Are you considering getting your degree from a U.S. college or university? With programs like CISL’s University Pathway, you easily can! First, you attend CISL classes and complete Converse’s rigorous English for Academic Purposes program to make sure that you have the English skills necessary to succeed in the American university classroom. Then, you work closely with the Pathway Coordinator to select your school.

The decision making doesn’t end there, though! After selecting a school, students must make their next incredibly important choice: what to study! Choosing a major can be stressful, but it should also be exciting! Today we are looking at the five most common majors at U.S. colleges and universities. But first, make sure you know these important vocabulary words related to studying in the U.S.

Words Related to Studying at a U.S. College or University

General Education/GE: the basic classes that everyone must take, regardless of their major subject of study. All students are expected to take classes in subjects such as the arts, science, and literature. General education is typically for the first two years of college; the next two years are more focused on your major.

Major (noun): the main focus of study; what you will receive your degree in. The majority of your classes will be related to this subject after you complete your general education.

  • Example: My major is Criminal Justice. I want to be a detective.
  • Example: What’s your major?
  • Example: I think I want to switch majors.

To major (in something): to be studying a particular subject; used to describe what you are doing at university.

  • Example: I am majoring in Political Science.
  • Example: My dad, brother, and I all majored in Education.
  • Example: What are you majoring in?

Double major (noun/verb): to complete two programs (majors).

  • Example: I double majored in Science and Art History.
  • Example: He wants to be a double major in Business and Japanese.

BA: Bachelor of Arts; one of two degree options at four-year colleges or universities.

  • Example: He has a BA in Literature.
  • Example: I will receive my BA in two years.

BS: Bachelor of Sciences; one of two degree options at four-year colleges or universities.

  • Example: She is getting a BS in Biochemistry.
  • Example: My mom has a Master’s in Engineering and a BS in Physics.

To declare (a major): to officially tell the university or college what degree path you have chosen.

  • Example: I have to declare my major by the end of this semester.
  • Example: Have you declared yet?

Undeclared: to not have chosen a major yet.

  • Example: I entered the university undeclared.
  • Example: All of my friends and I are undeclared.

The 5 Most Popular Majors in the U.S.

Class Computer Studying

5. Education

If you would like to be a teacher or work in public education or administration, this is an excellent choice for you! Most students choose a concentration, such as elementary school, secondary school, special education or adult education.

What you learn: Education students will study education theory, some philosophy, and child psychology and development. Additionally, students take classes related to the subject of specialization. (For example, students wanting to become history teachers will take many history classes.) Many students also receive first-hand experience by working in a classroom as a student-teacher, which is a rewarding experience!

Where you can study this: Merritt College, Santa Barbara City College, and more!

CA Academy of Sciences

4. Biology

Because Biology serves as the basis for so many sciences, this is an obvious choice for the science lover! The best thing about a Biology major is that it is a very broad subject, so the options are many when it comes to future careers or study.

Many students go on to study in master’s or PhD programs. Other become doctors, physician’s assistants, veterinarians, teachers, or researchers for scientific studies. Those who look for work directly after university are often lab technicians, teachers, research assistants, and technical writers: some work in marketing or sales for pharmaceutical companies or food science industries.

What you will learn: Biology students can expect to take classes in subjects such as biochemistry, evolution, genetics, microbiology, plant anatomy and zoology.

Where you can study this: Berkeley City College, Santa Rosa Junior College, Whatcom Community College, and more!

3. Nursing

The demand is always high for qualified and passionate nurses, and students recognize this need when selecting a major and future career. If you’d like to help people and contribute to improving public health, then this is the major for you.

In addition to working in hospitals or doctor’s offices, nurses also work for private companies, teach, or even work as technical writers.

What you will learn: Nursing students study subjects such as human health, medicine, the sciences, human anatomy, and public health.

Where you can study this: El Camino College, Merritt College, South Western Oregon Community College, and more!


2. Psychology

Like Biology, Psychology is another broad major that can be a foundation for many careers and/or further education. Students who wants to be a licensed counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist will need to pursue advanced degrees.

Psychology majors find work in many fields, including education, research, advertising or marketing, public health, politics or business.

What you will learn: Psychology study is broad and fascinating. In addition to many other topics, students learn all about the human personality, learning methods and patterns, cognition, behavior, development, and abnormal psychology.

Where you can study this: El Camino College, Santa Barbara City College,  Santa Rosa Junior College, and more!

Interview Business English

1 Business Administration and Management

It probably comes as no surprise that Business is the #1 major for U.S. students!

What you will learn: Business students learn how to effectively run and manage a business through classes in business administration, purchasing and logistics, marketing, accounting, finance and human resources. Classes also focus on how to develop crucial skills such as decision making, leadership and management.

Students go on to work in management, marketing, sales, advertising, financial analysis or entrepreneurship. Some students also choose to continue their education with a Master’s in Business Administration.

Where you can study this: California International Business University, Fisher College, Lincoln University (including an MBA), South Western Oregon Community College, Full Sail University, and more!

If you are interested in obtaining your degree from an American university, contact CISL and learn more about the CISL University Pathway Program.