Ranked: Most Popular U.S. Undergraduate Degrees (2011–2021)
In an era of soaring tuition fees and mounting student debt, choosing which undergraduate degree to pursue has become a crucial decision for any aspiring college student. And it always helps to see which way the winds are blowing.
This visualization by Kashish Rastogi, based on data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), examines the changing landscape of undergraduate degrees awarded between the 2010–2011 and 2020–2021 academic years.
Undergraduate Degrees Growing in Popularity
The NCES classifies all four-year bachelor degrees into 38 fields of study. Of these fields, 21 saw an increase in graduates in 2020–2021 compared to 2010–2011.
While only those with more than 30,000 graduates have been shown in the graphic (to prevent overrepresentation of large changes in small pools of graduates), the full list is available below.
|Rank||Field of Study||2010–2011||2020–2021||% Change|
|8||Security & Law|
Let’s take a look at the areas of study that were most popular, as well as some of the fastest growing fields:
Computer and Information Sciences
Bachelor’s degrees in this discipline have grown by 144% since 2010–2011, with over 100,000 graduates in 2020–2021. The allure of the tech sector’s explosive growth likely contributed to its popularity among students.
Undergraduate degrees in health professions saw an 87% increase, attracting nearly 260,000 graduates in 2020–2021. This field accounted for 13% of the total graduating class, reflecting the growing appeal of the healthcare sector.
There were 50,000 more engineering graduates in the U.S. in 2021, up 65% from 2011. With a median income over $100,000 per year, engineering graduates can usually rely on good wages as well as versatility in future careers, capable of finding jobs in tech, design, and communication fields, and of course, becoming future entrepreneurs.
University graduates in this field, which focuses on the integration of the study of biology with health and medicine, grew by 46%. A subset of this category—epidemiology—has been in the limelight recently thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While this category recorded a modest 7% growth in graduates, its popularity has been indisputable in the last decade, representing the largest proportion of the graduating class in both 2011 and 2021.
Fields with Declining University Graduates (2011‒2021)
Meanwhile, 17 areas of study experienced declines in the number of completed university degrees. We explore some of the notable ones below:
|Rank||Field of Study||2010–2011||2020–2021||% Change|
& Gender Studies
|16||Mechanic & Repair||226||221||-2%|
Popular in the 1970s, the English undergraduate degree has gone through peaks (80s and 90s) and troughs (2000s and 10s) of popularity in the last 50 years. Between 2010–2011 and 2020–2021, the number of students with an English degree has fallen by a third.
The state of English’s woes are even making its way to pop culture, like in Netflix’s The Chair, which follows the head of a struggling English department at a major university.
The existing teacher shortage in the United States does not seem to be getting fixed by a burgeoning supply of new grads. In fact, the number of university graduates in Education fell 14% between 2011 and 2021. With concerns around stagnant wages, burnout, and little to no support for supplies, many teachers are seeing an already demanding job becoming harder.
In the classic era, the liberal arts covered seven fields of study: rhetoric, grammar, logic, astronomy, mathematics, geometry, and music. Now, liberal art degrees include several other subjects: history, political science, and even philosophy—but students are meant to primarily walk away with critical thinking skills.
The modern world rewards specialization however, and a wider-scope liberal arts degree is seeing fewer takers, with a 10% drop in graduating students.
This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.
Ranked: The World’s Top 10 Automotive Exporters (2000-2022)
Data from the World Trade Organization highlights the world’s 10 largest automotive exporters in 2022.
Ranked: The World’s Top 10 Automotive Exporters
According to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, over 85 million motor vehicles were built around the world in 2022.
In this graphic, we add context to this massive figure by ranking the world’s 10 largest automotive exporters. The list is based on data from the World Trade Organization (WTO) and includes countries from nearly every corner of the world, highlighting the global nature of the industry.
Top 10 Exporting Countries
The data we used to create this graphic is included in the table below. It represents each country’s share of the total export value of global automotive products in both 2000 and 2022.
“Automotive products” are defined by the WTO as motor vehicles, parts and accessories for motor vehicles, and internal combustion engines for propelling said vehicles. This grouping excludes motorcycles and trailers.
(% of world exports)
(% of world exports)
|🇰🇷 South Korea||2.6%||5.1%||+2.5|
From this list we can identify which countries have experienced the most growth or decline over the past 22 years.
Countries With the Most Growth Since 2000
The automotive exporters that grew their share of global value the most since 2000 are China (+7.7 pp), Mexico (+3.2 pp), and South Korea (+2.5 pp).
There are clear drivers behind each of these growth stories.
For example, China became the world’s largest car market back in 2009, which accelerated the growth of its domestic automakers. China is also home to some of the world’s biggest automotive suppliers, including Weichai (diesel engines), Hasco Automotive (drivetrain and air conditioning systems), and CATL (EV batteries).
Mexico, on the other hand, has grown its auto industry by enticing global brands to construct their factories there. The country’s competitive edge includes cheaper labor and a land border to the United States.
Finally there’s South Korea, whose growth is largely attributed to Hyundai Motor Company. The Seoul-based automaker recently became the third largest on a global basis, trailing only Toyota and Volkswagen.
Countries With the Biggest Decline Since 2000
The automotive exporters that declined the most since 2000 are Canada (-7.2 pp), Japan (-6.4 pp), and the U.S. (-2.6 pp).
Canada’s auto industry has experienced a steady decline in recent years, though new EV-related investments could turn things around. In March 2022, Stellantis and LG Energy Solutions announced the construction of a $3.5 billion EV battery plant in Windsor, Ontario.
Canada’s automotive industry is largely concentrated in the province of Ontario, which neighbors Michigan, the top state for U.S. car production.
Money3 weeks ago
Visualized: How Long Does it Take to Double Your Money?
Markets6 days ago
Charted: What are Retail Investors Interested in Buying in 2023?
Maps2 weeks ago
The Incredible Historical Map That Changed Cartography
Markets5 days ago
The $109 Trillion Global Stock Market in One Chart
China4 weeks ago
Charted: Six Red Flags Pointing to China’s Economy Slowing Down
VC+2 weeks ago
What’s New on VC+ in September
Markets3 days ago
Ranked: 15 of the World’s Least Affordable Housing Markets
Markets4 weeks ago
The 25 Best Stocks by Shareholder Wealth Creation (1926-2022)