Since the attempt to measure intelligence by standardized tests there have been those who wholeheartedly embrace the measures and others who argue that the tests are designed with a narrow demographic in mind. Critics say that such tests do not take into consideration class difference, ethnic diversity and even gender, and favor one or two forms of intelligence over others. Would a brilliant, introverted physicist be capable of empathetically managing a large team of people? Would an astronaut have what it takes to feed a community or raise a child? These are some of the questions we should ask ourselves when we attempt to categorize people by limited criteria like IQ.
People, communities and our world are all multifaceted. That said, since it became a measure of intelligence people have been fascinated with IQ. Most of us fall into the main group: 95 percent of those who take the test fall between the scores of 70 and 130. Below 70, a person is considered as having an intellectual disability. Above 130, one is considered in a gifted two percent, and Mensa will let you in. Above 145 you would be in the company of only 1,225 members of the Triple Nine Society, so-called because this is the top 0.1 percent, or the 99.9th percentile. You would need an IQ score of 160 to become the 121st member of the Prometheus Society, and this is where the buck stops.
StatisticBrain.com looked at 57 fields of third level academic study to compile a list with the of “IQ Estimates by College Major” with numbers collected from Educational Testing Services. The SAT scores of students across 57 chosen majors in the U.S. were averaged by category. These averages were then compared against one another to compile a list of the average IQ of the typical student in a particular field of study.
In terms of academic or “approved” intelligence as measured in tests, who scored the lowest by chosen college major? Read on to find out….
10. Evaluation and Research: 109
This trans-disciplinary field is described as evolving. Students are taught advanced research methods with the aim of becoming methodological and measurement specialists. This involves the construction and use of standardized tests, psychological measurements, educational assessment and cross-cultural assessment applicable in educational, social, health and psychological contexts. Graduates end up being versed in statistical analysis, research methods, research design, evaluation techniques, evaluative research, behavioral science research and more. It may not be rocket science, but it doesn’t sound like a piece of cake, either! With an average IQ of 109, students of Evaluation and Research are still well above the average American IQ of 98.
9. Public Administration: 109
These studies prepare students for working in the public service as civil servants who will implement government policy. It’s a pretty by-the-books and rule-following sort of field, in general, so creativity isn’t a top priority. But civil servants are the cogs that enable governments to function, whatever type of government that might be. People in this field end up belonging to one of six sub-fields: human resources, budgeting, policy analysis, organizational theory, ethics and statistics. Someone’s got to do it!
8. Other Education: 109
The field of “Education” as a stand-alone is listed as having students with the twelfth-lowest of IQs by college major. A couple of more specific education-related fields you will read about come in lower than this one. This generalized “other” includes the study of anything from teaching fundraising, becoming a TA, to college instructors in trades, i.e. someone who teaches others how to be an electrician, a writer, or even a paramedic. A well-known phrase comes to mind: “Those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach.” However, if someone cannot, how do they teach it? While the educators have an average IQ of 109, they’re still above the average so Americans needn’t be concerned.
7. Elementary Education: 108
Many argue for better salaries for teachers. Elementary teachers raise our future. They teach future teachers, doctors, lawyers and fire chiefs. How then, are they paid so poorly, when compared to, for instance, pro athletes or models? According to the statistics compiled by Statistic Brain in this list, it is because what these people impart is not hard to do. Again, one thinks of the subjectivity of IQ and wonders if it should not include measures of emotional intelligence: things like patience and compassion. Sure, a rocket scientist would have the knowledge and intelligence-level to impart what they know to 8-year-olds, but would they have longevity in the field? While elementary school teachers have a lower IQ than many other college fields on average, this is an area that requires a high ‘EQ’ and plenty of artistic creativity – things that aren’t generally represented by IQ.
6. Administration: 107
As with No. 9 in our list, Public Administration, the people who study this field will be followers, learning how to run systems so that the rest of us can live in a world where things run smoothly. Without administrants, there would be no schools, no hospitals, no city transport, no television or radio, no warehouses…. These students are learning how to do the paperwork and how to redirect us when we have needs they cannot meet. They may not have all the answers, but they do have way more experience than most of us at finding what needs to be found, or at least at pointing us in the right direction.
5. Home Economics: 106
The study of home economics at the post-secondary level is not just making muffins or learning how to cut a pattern and use a sewing machine. This field is both broad and necessary, and includes areas such as interior design, institutional management, hygiene, commercial cooking, food preservation, child development—that is, anything to do with the management of home and the community. Also referred to as human ecology or family and consumer sciences, people studying in this field learn about the economics of community management, an aspect of life without which communities would flounder.
4. Special Ed: 106
Students in this field learn how to care for the developmentally delayed and those with physical, emotional or mental challenges. Students learn about adapting materials and equipment, making settings more accessible and designing any interventions that will help special-needs students learn to be more capable and independent. This is all done with the aim of giving those with special needs’ the opportunity for greater success than if they were left to the regular educational system where they were simply one of a number within a classroom not designed to give them that extra boost. As in elementary education, the features of what makes a good Special Ed teacher go far beyond IQ.
3. Student Counseling: 105
Covering psychological therapy, academic counseling, career counseling and residential counseling, students in this field learn to provide a wide range of counseling services on college campuses. A significant number of students are away from home for the first time and have to survive in a large, unfamiliar environment with no one to govern them but themselves—a daunting task for young adults, many of whom end up battling depression, among other things. Without the support of their counselors, many students would not make it through to graduation.
2. Early Childhood: 104
This is the study of caring for and teaching children aged 0-6 years, which includes daycare and preschool-age up to kindergarten or grade 1. Students in this discipline learn about many things, from lesson planning and implementation to public speaking, food hygiene, music, children’s literature, child psychology, first aid and more. Emphasis is placed on children’s physical as well as emotional safety. Perhaps learning through hands-on experience/field study will teach students in this college major what they most need to know: that they are imparting not just smarts, but also socially-acceptable behaviors, kindness, emotional respect and more.
1. Social Work: 103
The Merriam-Webster definition of social work is: “any of various professional activities…concerned with providing social services and especially with the investigation, treatment, and material aid of the economically, physically, mentally, or socially disadvantaged.” Is it a sign of lower intelligence to want to help the less fortunate? If so, count us in. Intelligence associated with putting one’s own needs first may aid someone wanting to reach the top in terms of money and power, but this is emotionally short-sighted. A long-term view better envisions how to fit everyone into the picture. If ignored, those who could become contributing members of society may become instead those who ignore or worse rebel against the common good.
As with many other subjects on this list, a high level of emotional intelligence is one of the most important factors in social work study. Thus the students’ IQs and grades, while still higher than the average American’s, are usually less significant than their proactive experience when colleges are assessing who’ll be granted entry to a social work course.