Emma Wall, a junior dance major, joined the College of Performing Arts at Chapman University to pursue her passion for dance and create a career out of it. Photo by Azuki Umeda.


When pursuing a college education, students have a variety of options but often stress about choosing a major that explores their creative passion or a major that promises financial stability.

“I would have liked to major in something relating to the environment, but I chose to major in business because I thought it was applicable to many professions,” said senior business administration major Jackson Robert.

One of the main differences with majors in the business school and the schools involving performing arts or education is the economic value and career security that the degree is proven to provide.

“I think people go into other schools because the careers for majors such as business are more available and solid. With the arts, you are constantly striving to get your work out there,” said Emma Wall, dance major and junior at Chapman University.

Chapman’s Institutional Research Office would not provide the exact numbers of how many students are enrolled in each major, but in Fall of 2018, 21% of the student population was enrolled in Chapman’s Agyros School of Business and Economics. In contrast, only 5% of the student population was enrolled in the College of Performing Arts, according to the 2018-2019 fact sheet.

Chapman University offers 42 majors, but it is most known for its business, film, communications, and psychology departments. Photo by Haley Younkin.

STEM, business, and health are the highest-paid majors and account for over 46% of college graduates, states The Economic Value of College Majors. Those involved in the arts, social work, and education had some of the lowest median earnings. 

“The economic risks and returns to Bachelor’s degrees vary greatly among different majors. For today’s high school graduates, and an increasing share of middle-aged adults who are pursuing a Bachelor’s degree, the decision about what to major in will have critical economic consequences for the rest of their lives,” the report states.

Most students lean towards majors that are connected to the labor market. About 86% of respondents in Chapman’s January 2019 Infographic Newsletter said a “stable and secure future” was important to seniors when considering a career path.

While some students are choosing their major because of the payoff, Associate Dean of the School of Communications Andrea Weber said that employers are also looking for communication, problem-solving, teamwork skills.

“A lot of it is niche. Some majors are very specific to a particular job which make options more limited, while communication studies or strategic and corporate communications gives students the ability to go into many different fields,” Weber said.

Senior Maya Dhairyawan, a strategic and corporate communications major, said she chose her major because of its flexibility.

“I knew it would give me good background knowledge and it was also broad enough that if I changed my mind about PR, I could explore other career options,” Dhairyawan said. “Most of the people I have met within the major chose it because it’s broad, but it also offers relevant information that everyone can use in real life.”

Even though many students pick majors that seems unreliable, many stick with them because of the passion they have for the subject.

“I chose to major in dance at Chapman because I want to build a career out of it. The arts are tricky because nothing is ever stable. They don’t appeal to everyone, which I understand, but can’t relate to,” said Wall.

Haley Younkin
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