An Analysis of Trends in Major Selection on the Wilf and Beren Campuses
In an extensive review of declared majors on campus, it has become clear biology is the largest declared major on both the Wilf and Beren campuses, comprising 26.0% and 33.3% of all declared liberal arts majors, respectively.
At Wilf, Accounting was the second most popular major, with 104 students, followed by psychology in a distant third, with 59 declared majors. At Beren, Psychology took the number two spot with 123 majors, followed by shaped major with 52 declared majors, and English, with 41.
In terms of Yeshiva University’s liberal arts undergraduate programs, the sciences, known by the acronym STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), dominate declared majors. At YU, STEM majors include biology, chemistry, computer science, math, physics, and the physical sciences. At Yeshiva College, STEM accounts for 60.0% of declared majors, while at Stern College for Women, STEM accounts for 42.7% of declared majors. Last semester, both undergraduate programs had 250 STEM majors, respectively.
However, these percentages must be tempered by noting that the vast majority of STEM majors are biology students, the largest major on both campuses. In Fall 2017, there were 124 declared biology majors at YC and 187 declared biology majors at SCW. At Beren, biology majors compose 75% of all STEM students, a percentage that has remained virtually unchanged over five years, even with the formal launching and growth of the computer science major downtown, in which there are now over 20 declared student majors.
The story of the social sciences on the two campuses is different both substantively and in terms of trends. At Beren, the percentage of social science majors is essentially flat, increasing just 0.4% in the last five years. The social sciences include majors like psychology, economics, sociology and political science.
The number of students majoring in psychology, by far the largest social science major at Beren, has also remained flat (122 in 2012, 123 in 2017). Psychology accounts for 78% of the declared social science majors at Stern.
Currently there are just 4 economics majors at Beren, and there have not been more than 12 since 2013. Interestingly, the number of sociology majors has declined significantly from 22 to just 6 over those five years.
In contrast, on the Wilf campus, the number of social science majors has declined by nearly 36% in the same five-year span. The social sciences now comprise just 13.2% of declared majors at Wilf.
Like at Beren, psychology is the largest social science at Wilf, with 59 out of 114 students (51.7%), part of the more equitable distribution of social science majors at the uptown campus.
A significant part of the decline in social science majors uptown is attributable to a decline by half in students studying Economics since 2012. Currently there are just 26 economics students at Wilf, compared to 51 in 2012.
The remainder of the uptown social science majors is composed of 35 political science students, with little change since 2012 and 3 sociology majors, down from 16 five years ago.
On a whole, the number of humanities majors have declined significantly since 2012, as reported by The Commentator in December. In Fall 2017, humanities majors represented just 4.7% of declared majors (44 students) on the Wilf campus and 10.9% of declared majors (82 students) at Beren. Majors like English, philosophy, history, the languages, and the arts compose the humanities disciplines.
While there is less information available on the breakdown of majors in Syms at both Wilf and Beren, it is possible to determine the percentage of students majoring in accounting currently, and compare it to the percentage since 2012.
At Wilf, accounting majors currently compose 20.1% of Business undergrads. The percentage of Syms students studying accounting has declined year after year since Fall 2012, when the percentage was nearly 36%. Interestingly, despite a dramatic increase of over 200 students in Syms since 2012 (to 517 students, from 309), the current number of accounting majors is less than it was in 2012, when there were 111 accounting majors. Today, there are 104. This means that while Syms has grabbed larger shares of the overall Wilf undergraduate population, it has done so by attracting students almost entirely to Finance, Marketing, Management, and Business Intelligence and Marketing Analytics.
A similar but less dramatic shift is evident from the number of accounting students at Beren. While the undergraduate population at Syms-Beren has nearly doubled from 90 to 169 since 2012, the number of accounting students now is essentially the same as it was in 2012 (despite a rise and drop between then and now). The percentage of Syms-Beren students majoring in accounting has dropped 9.7%, from 23.3% to 13.6%.
*Trend graphs for this article were created by Shlomo Friedman
Editors’ Note: The percentages and numbers listed refer to the number of declared majors. Students are able to declare multiple majors, and in these cases, both majors were counted. Additionally, students are given a three semester period from their arrival on campus to declare their major, so many current students in their first few semesters are undeclared. Only the declared majors of full-time students were considered.
All numbers were obtained from YU’s Office of Institutional Research.