Kiplinger updates its rankings of college majors annually. Above is our list of the best college majors for a lucrative career from the 2017-2018 academic year. Keep in mind that ranking methodologies can change from year to year based on the data available at the time, changes to how the data was gathered, switches to new data providers and tweaks to the formulas used to narrow the pool of candidates.
Arkansas State University offers a handful of online degrees for students at the undergraduate and graduate level. Bachelor's options for online students include degrees in business fields such as organizational supervision, strategic communications and social media management, and business administration. Other major fields include creative media, criminology, and digital innovation, and an accelerated RN-to-BSN track that students can complete in 12 months or less. Arkansas State also offers 10 online master's degrees concentrating in education and teaching fields.
Online courses involve email assignments, streaming video lectures, and proctored exams. In addition to the fully online programs listed above, Bama by Distance offers primarily online and blended degree options. Nontraditional students seeking a degree can also choose the New College LifeTrack option, a hybrid online and on-campus program for nontraditional students that awards degrees in four general subjects.
Of all the many engineering fields that appear on this list, this major unfortunately turns out the lowest entry-level pay. But you can expect that salary to reach six figures by mid-career. (And hey, Mexican business mogul Carlos Slim—one of the richest people in the world—studied civil engineering and gets by just fine.) And the opportunities are far more plentiful than they are in many other engineering fields. Civil engineers, who design and supervise the construction of airports, sewer systems and other large projects, are expected to add more than 38,000 positions to their already robust ranks of 323,245 by 2027. Median pay for this job is $83,283 a year.
What if I want to go to grad school? If you think law school, medical school or grad school is in your future, you should know that some colleges offer pre-professional advising programs (such as Premed or Prelaw). These programs are not the same as majors, and you will still need to choose a major in another subject. As long as you fulfill a grad school's course requirements, it really doesn't matter what you major in.
At Central Michigan University, undergraduate students can choose from 12 online bachelor's programs. These include degrees in specialized fields such as fashion merchandising and design, international relations, public and nonprofit administration, and a BS in community development track with three specialization options. The university also offers 13 online master's degrees and three online doctorates, most of which focus on business administration or education. Online students represent roughly 25% of CMU's total student population.
The University of Missouri features an online Bachelor of Education Studies. This program is one of relatively few that are designed for teachers who want to work with adult learners in education but in non-school settings such as HR training, churches, nonprofit organizations or community colleges. Admission requires a minimum of 24 college credits with a 2.5 GPA. The degree has an interdepartmental structure and examines topics such as career counseling, vocational education, and special education. Sample courses include Workforce Education Teaching Methods, Positive Psychology, and Developmental Aspects of Human Learning. Tuition per credit is $284.80 for residents and $369.70 for nonresidents.
If you have a creative bent, then you know that it can be more difficult to find online programs that match your interests. The Savannah College of Art and Design—a private, nonprofit university— has addressed this need by offering high-quality online programs tailored to meet the needs of nontraditional students. And their programs, offered at the undergraduate and graduate level—have found their way to national rankings.  
But not all college degrees are created equal. To determine which majors typically come with the best hiring prospects and pay, we studied the data for 102 popular college majors. We looked for courses of study that tend to lead to fat paychecks—both right out of school and further along your career path. We also sought out majors that are in high demand based on recent online job postings as well as long-term growth expectations for related occupations. Plus, we factored in the percentage of workers with given degrees who feel their jobs have a positive impact on the world because having a sense of purpose can be just as important as having a good payday.

Three of the best colleges for undergraduate biology programs are Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Harvard University. These schools offer students a variety of program options and research opportunities. Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Harvard University offer some of the best degree programs in biology, and all three are highly ranked by U.S. News and World Report. Biology majors at these universities can participate in classroom instruction and perform research in state-of-the-art campus laboratories. Students might be able to specialize in subjects like ecology and evolution, marine biology, or biochemistry.

A member of the ten-school Concordia University System, Concordia University-Saint Paul is a private, nationally ranked, Christian (Lutheran) university.  Concordia Saint Paul (CSP) offers numerous degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate level to over 1000 enrolled online students. And U.S. News & World Report ranks many of their online program among the best of their kind.

In addition to the standard bachelor's pathways listed above, transfer students with an associate degree can follow an accelerated cohort track with the same group of students and complete their undergraduate studies in two years or less. Other available options include course clusters that combine three interrelated courses into a single 12-week term. The school offers open enrollment, so students may begin their coursework at various points throughout the calendar year.


Online students face a set of unique issues. Whether you’re wondering about online student disability services, LGBT support at online colleges, or paying for your online degree, our library of guides is here to help you. Planning to transfer credits from an online college? We’ll walk you through the importance of enrolling in accredited online colleges to ensure your hard work does not go to waste. We collected questions from parents, educators, and students to discover the most pressing issues they faced, and then put our team of experts to work finding in-depth answers.
The University of North Carolina at Wilmington features an online Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education. The program focus is on developing professional competency for teaching and school leadership. It will result in North Carolina licensure to teach K-6. Admission requires a minimum of 24 credits with a 2.5 GPA. In addition to the core curriculum, an 18 hour concentration is required, chosen from science and health, fine arts, ESL, international studies, math, and technology. The field requirements include some on-campus practicums and the student teaching must be done in North Carolina. Classes in the program include Teaching Diverse Learners K-6, Social Studies Curriculum and Instruction K-6, and Psychological Foundations of Teaching. Online tuition for state residents is $150.10 per credit and $625.27 per credit for nonresidents.

Most online courses at Missouri State are asynchronous, and students generally earn their bachelor's in four years or less. All baccalaureate degrees culminate in a capstone assignment that requires students to construct a public affairs project or presentation around their major. The university allows students to transfer up to 90 credits toward their undergraduate degrees.
Online courses involve email assignments, streaming video lectures, and proctored exams. In addition to the fully online programs listed above, Bama by Distance offers primarily online and blended degree options. Nontraditional students seeking a degree can also choose the New College LifeTrack option, a hybrid online and on-campus program for nontraditional students that awards degrees in four general subjects.
As a student, you have many options available to fund your education. Some of the most common financial options include Federal Financial Aid, scholarships, grants, the cash plan, the third-party billing plan, the military or government billing plan, tribal funding and third-party private student loans. Learn about each option to determine your eligibility. 
Once you know what degree level you want to pursue, think carefully about what majors will have the biggest impact on your current career or future job prospects. Different majors teach different skills and have different points of emphasis. Multiple studies have shown that what you study has a bigger impact on future earning potential than where you go to school.
The coursework in the education certificate will vary, depending on the program’s goals. Many programs are designed to certify teachers in a particular subject area, such as elementary or secondary education. These programs discuss instructional abilities and teaching theory. Some programs are aimed at experienced educators and discuss education administration and leadership topics, such as human resources issues and professional communication techniques. Other certificates are useful for seasoned teachers who want more knowledge in a particular teaching area, such as teaching students with disabilities or using educational technology.

City University of Seattle (also known as CityU) is a private, nonprofit university that offers accredited degrees from the undergraduate through doctoral level. With a commitment to serving working adults and transfer students, CityU is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top schools for online bachelor’s degree programs, and among the top online programs for veterans in the U.S.


Choosing your field of study is the first step in your online education, a process that takes time, commitment, and energy. The online degree program you decide to pursue will affect your career path, income potential, and level of employment. Online colleges offer a number of diverse options, and your area of interest may cross over several different degree programs. To help you find the online degree program that matches your interests and gives you best chance of financial success, explore our online degree comparison tool for information about earning potential, degree costs, and time commitments.
Oregon State follows a quarterly calendar and provides four start times throughout the academic year for online students. Tuition for undergraduate online courses costs the same irrespective of a students residency status. Military veterans and servicemembers also qualify for certain tuition benefits, including financial aid that covers the cost of up to 16 credits per year. Oregon State University receives regional accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Because Appalachian State exclusively offers degree completion programs at the bachelor's level, incoming students need at least 30 credits from another accredited institution. The school also reserves several institutional scholarships for transfer students. Appalachian State University receives regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology ranked as the seventh best national university on U.S. News and World Report's 2017 list. MIT's Department of Biology offers a Bachelor of Science in Biology, as well as a minor in biology for students who may be interested in other disciplines. Students within the department have access to 14 research programs, including those dealing with cancer, cloning, stem cells, and cellular biology. Biology majors at MIT can choose between two programs: one which prepares students for careers in research, known as Course VII, or on for students not pursuing lab research roles, known as Course VII-A. Ph.D. programs are also available through specializations in areas like developmental biology, cell biology, biochemistry, immunology, and neurobiology.

All online students pay the same per-credit tuition rate regardless of their major or state residency status. Active-duty military personnel receive a substantial tuition discount. Additionally, students do not need to pay for application fees or transfer credit evaluations. Concordia University receives regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

With monthly starts and accelerated eight-week courses, CSU-Global makes higher education both immediately accessible and remarkably efficient. The University also insists on absolute transparency in costs and fees—which includes a tuition guarantee so you know exactly what you will have to pay. They also integrate a data-driven approach that measures key student performance metrics to ensure that their courses are doing what they need to.


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Our rankings of the best online colleges and universities are a jumping off point to help you build your own list of prospective programs that meet your needs. Remember, many factors that contribute to the quality of a degree program are intangible. You won't find data points here or elsewhere that fully capture the level of faculty support, peer networking or academic and professional stimulation found in one program versus another. Please contact your schools directly for more information.
For each of the 102 college majors, compensation research firm PayScale provided median annual salaries for entry-level workers (with five years or less of work experience) and mid-career employees (with at least 10 years of experience). PayScale also provided “high job meaning” scores, which indicate the percentage of workers with each college major who say their work makes the world a better place. Workforce research firm Burning Glass Technologies supplied the number of online job postings listed between the third quarter of 2017 and the second quarter of 2018 that were seeking applicants with each of the 102 college majors. Projected 10-year growth rates from 2017 to 2027 for related occupations came from Emsi, a labor-market research firm owned by Strada Education. Emsi collects data from dozens of federal, state and private sources, including the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In finalizing our rankings, we combined some similar majors to avoid redundancy.
Texas-based Southwestern Assemblies of God University offers many different pathways for students seeking a religious degree. These include online undergraduate programs in fields such as Bible and theology, church ministries, and theological studies. Secular options include online bachelor's degrees in counseling, criminal justice, elementary education, and TESOL. Additionally, the university offers multi-concentration online bachelor's degrees in business administration and human services and 19 online master's and doctoral degrees.

Another school that is no stranger to national rankings, the University of Florida—located in the city of Gainesville—is breaking down geographical barriers to higher education. The University of Florida offers access to more than 200 online undergraduate and graduate degree and certificate programs. And as a student, you’ll be a member of The Gator Nation, along with thousands of students and alumni around the world.
Still, the generous pay might make relocating and competing for the few spots worthwhile, if you’re interested in this subject. The median income for nuclear engineers is $103,043 a year. And in the top-paying states, the average annual wage ranges from $122,950 in Idaho and $138,970 in New Mexico, according to the BLS. To get started in this lucrative field, you definitely need a bachelor’s, but some employers may require a master’s degree or even a PhD. Whatever education level you attain, expect your course load to include many math and science classes, as well as more specific classes such as nuclear engineering design, nuclear-risk assessment and management and thermal hydraulics for nuclear plants.
About 81% of online students are also employed, so the convenience of distance education works in their favor, allowing them to complete classes around their employment schedule. While almost 63% of students say that the courses they took were to further their career, only 17% claim that taking courses was due to a desire to change careers. These responses may suggest that many online students are looking to expand their current professional skills, including the skills needed for a job promotion, rather than shift career paths entirely.

Located in New York City, Pace University is a private institution with stellar online programs. With over a decade of experience in online education, Pace University is home to one of the top online Bachelor’s programs in the country (U.S. News & World Report)  as well as other high ranking programs at the undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate level.   
National University features an online Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education. The program focus is on inclusive curricula and best practices for educating children birth to age 5.  Admission requires a diploma with a minimum GPA of 2.0 or the GED. Transfer students should also have a minimum GPA of 2.0. Policies on transfer credit and credit for prior experience are generous. Classes are offered in a one class per four-week term format. Courses offered include Partnering with Families, Music, Movements, Drama, Dance, and Crisis Trauma and Abuse. Online tuition is $370 per quarter credit. National University's home campus is in San Diego. The program requires a teaching practicum, and a background check is mandatory. NU is extremely military friendly. Arkansas residents should check with the admissions office regarding program availability.
Central Michigan University is a public research university—the largest university in Michigan—and a highly regarded provider of online education. CMU Global Campus (which houses their online programs) offers 27 degrees and multiple professional certificates from undergraduate through doctoral levels. CMU has been highly ranked for their online Bachelors, Graduate Education, and MBA programs (U.S. News & World Report).
This article was written by AcademyOne's CEO and Founder David K. Moldoff who has worked in higher education for over thirty five years. Mr. Moldoff has been developing student centered enrollment systems since the 70's spanning multiple institutions, policies and practices. Mr. Moldoff graduated from Drexel University through the cooperative education program and majored in economics with a minor in marketing.
Downside: The job market is highly competitive with just 35,275 petroleum engineers working in the U.S. today, even after experiencing an impressive 91.3% jump in their numbers over the past decade. The good news is that growth is expected to continue at a rate of 13.1% over the next 10 years, beating the 9.7% growth for all jobs. But again, your job prospects are limited to certain parts of the country, with Texas housing about half of all the positions in the U.S., according to the BLS. Also, the industry in inextricably tied to notoriously volatile oil prices, so the job market may be just as hot and cold.
One of three campuses in the world-class University of Illinois, the University of Illinois Springfield is widely acclaimed for their leadership in online learning. UIS offers over 45 degree, certification, and graduate certificate programs for nontraditional students, many of which rank among the best in the country. Students encounter an intellectually rich environment with top-notch faculty and online resources.
Demand for expertise in this field is building. Expectations for population and business growth in the U.S. for the next several years fuels the need for new homes, office buildings, hospitals, schools and structures of all kinds, as well as the improvement and maintenance of existing buildings and infrastructure, such as roads, bridges and sewer pipe systems. That means growing opportunities for construction managers, an obvious professional goal for this academic path. Plus, their median income is a solid $71,781 a year.
Online students at WSU Global Campus benefit from many student supports including personal academic assistance, a worldwide alumni network, and access to their unique Global Connections program. WSU is constantly expanding online course offerings—and these programs constantly garner national acclaim. WSU has ranked at the top of U.S. News & World Report’s online rankings for Bachelor’s, MBA, and Graduate Engineering programs.
If you’re willing to take those risks, expect to study plenty of math and science. At the University of Texas, a top school for this field, some courses for the petroleum engineering degree include: engineering, energy and the environment in the first year; mechanics of solids in the second year; petrophysics in the third year; and reservoir geomechanics in the final year.

Once you know what degree level you want to pursue, think carefully about what majors will have the biggest impact on your current career or future job prospects. Different majors teach different skills and have different points of emphasis. Multiple studies have shown that what you study has a bigger impact on future earning potential than where you go to school.
Appalachian State offers a hybrid Bachelor of Science in Middle Grades Education, with some courses offered online and some requiring an on-campus presence. This is a degree completion program, requiring at least 30 college credits and a minimum 2.0 GPA. The degree covers grades 6-8. The major has three concentrations: language arts and science, language arts and social studies, and science and social studies. The curriculum combines liberal arts and teaching content and skills. The program can lead to licensure in North Carolina. Segments of the program require practicums on campus, and student teaching must be done in-state. Courses include Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age and Language Arts in the Middle Grades. In-state tuition is $143 per credit and $643.50 per credit for nonresidents.
Core classes in the education program explore the structure of public education, major topics and issues in public education, cultural effects on student achievement, education around the world, and the political state of education. Other classes explore curriculum development, evaluation techniques, and teaching techniques. To earn a four-year degree in education, students also take a number of general courses in math,biology, the arts, and the humanities.
You've done all the prep work -- you've gotten good grades in high school, scored well in the world of standardized testing, and been accepted into the college you want to attend -- so enjoy all your hard work while laying the groundwork for a successful college career. Don't be a statistic; be determined to make it through your freshman year -- and beyond. Take advantage of your network of new friends and professors, have fun while learning as much as you can, and get the most out of your college experience.
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