Humanities, business continue to be most popular majors


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Megan Miller is the last undergraduate student who will be able to put a her commercial recreation major on a resume. 

The Lapeer senior is registered as a commercial recreation and facilities management major, which is no longer offered at CMU. According to a spring 2016 report by the Office of Institutional Research, some majors are populated by only one undergraduate student, while others have hundreds.

Top 5 majors

#1 psychology, 636 students

#2 marketing, 472 

#3 accounting, 364 

#4 logistics management, 361

#5 kinesiology, 320

Majors with one student

ADM: organization administration

ART: three dimensional concentration

child development;  general concentration

interpersonal communication concentration

Earth science, K-12 graders

integrated leadership studies

music: organ major

physics, 6-12 graders

community leisure services administration concentration

commercial rec. and facilities management concentration

speech major

Psychology is the most popular major on campus, with 636 undergraduate students signed. An additional 14 juniors and seniors are majoring in graduate preparation.

Career Services Director Julia Sherlock said some majors might have more students than others, but one career path isn't necessarily a better choice because of those numbers.

"It is all individually-based," Sherlock said. "There is no guarantee for success or failure, it all depends on the individual's motivation and how they decide to leverage their skills to a particular employer."

The top five majors

Nationally, psychology has a high enrollment rate. It was fourth in the nation during the 2011-12 school year, awarding 109,000 bachelor degrees to students across the United States, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics.

After graduation, students with bachelor's degrees in psychology don't typically get a job within their field of study. Mark Reilly, a professor of psychology and neuroscience, said this is because psychologists and clinical psychologists are required to attend graduate school.

Instead, people with bachelor degrees in psychology commonly go for entry-level jobs relating to human services, like sales or marketing.

Reilly said psychology is still useful with a bachelor's degree because the field relates to human services and emphasizes skills in understanding why people do what they do. 

"Management, human resources -- it all involves behavior," said the undergraduate director. "Companies are interested in hiring people that have an understanding of psychology."

Sherlock agreed psychology students can get jobs in multiple fields.

"The science of behavior is going to be applicable in a lot of business situations," she said. "You can do almost anything you want because you are considered schooled and educated."

The second, third and fourth most popular majors at CMU are all in the College of Business Administration: marketing, logistics management and accounting. A National Center for Education Statistics report states more business degrees were given out in American universities the 2011-12 school year than any other, totaling to approximately 367,000 business degrees.

Sherlock said the job market for students coming out of the College of Business with these degrees is thriving.

"These three are very popular majors and very highly recruited at Central Michigan University," she said. 

The fifth most popular major at CMU in spring 2016 is exercise science; kinesiology, with 320 undergraduate students this semester. 

Less popular majors

The report by the office of OIR shows 11 majors listed with only a single undergraduate registered. 

Some majors, like two types of recreation specializations, are no longer available to new signers and consist only of upperclassmen who signed before the major was dropped from the program.

The larger recreation major students can go for now, recreation and event management, has 249 students registured for spring 2016 .

Others, like speech, a music major in the organ, or earth science for kindergarten through 12th graders, have very few students because the disciplines are more specific in nature and appeal to a smaller pool of students.

Those majors typically have multiple categories, like music, which has 10 categories for students to choose from, one of which is the organ major. 

Sherlock said a student majoring in playing the organ would have a limited market to choose from in orchestras, but could be creative and teach.

"They would have to look at their market niche, see where the demand is," she said.

Most of the top five are non-specific, general majors like with many different job positions and sub categories within. Those sub-categories are not listed at CMU as specific sub-majors, like music majors are.They fall under the general heading.

Miller, who is her major's only student, said she chose commercial recreation after originally being an education major. She decided education wasn't for her and went to an adviser to explore other options. 

"I explored what I would think I'd like and what-not, tried out a class and liked it," she said. 

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