“The college years” are typically thought of as the period of time when you’re old enough to make your own decision, but still immature enough to receive a lot of grace for being irresponsible. Pizza, beer, and frat parties are common staples of many college students. Staying up all night, sleeping late, and skipping classes are routine practices for those who are more committed to their social lives than to their academic studies.
In spite of all of this, most students manage to attend and pass enough classes to gain the sufficient amount of college credits required to graduate and move to the next phase of life. And along the way, they’ve also learned how to achieve the perfect balance between studying and partying.
However, not all college majors are created equal. Some degree paths have more rigorous academic requirements, which are not conducive to an active social life. Depending on which major you choose, you may miss some Greek mixers and road trips. That is, if you expect to do well in those majors.
According to the 2013 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSEE), the majors with the most time requirements can put a serious dent in your personal and social life. Perhaps you’re thinking, “Well, what’s the big deal. All majors require a significant amount of time.” And they do.
However, there’s a difference of seven hours a week between the NSEE-identified major that requires the most time commitment, and the degree that had the least time requirement, according to the survey respondents. That’s 28 hours a month. And even if you subtract three months for downtime between semesters or quarters, that’s an extra 252 hours a year.
So how was this list compiled? Well, students from 586 U.S. and 27 Canadian colleges and universities participated in the 2013 survey. These students attend schools ranging from the University of Alabama at Birmingham to Michigan State University to Boston College to the University of Toronto.
The list focuses on how much time college seniors spent preparing for class, reading, and writing papers.
So which majors did not make the list?
- Communications, Media and Public Relations: 12 hours per week
- Social Service Professions: 13 hours per week
- Business: 14 hours a week
- Social Science: 14 hours a week
- Education majors: 15 hours a week
Keep reading to find out which majors can put a serious dent in your social and personal life. Not saying that you shouldn’t pursue them – just be prepared to burn the midnight oil.
6 5: Biological Sciences, Agriculture, & Natural Resources
Time Requirement: 16 Hours/Week
In addition to prepping an average of 16 hours every week, these senior students also spent an additional eight hours reading material for class. And they estimated that they wrote about 66 pages of assignments their senior year.
At North Carolina State University, students in biological sciences may specialize in molecular, cellular and developmental biology; integrative physiology and neurobiology; human biology; or ecology, evolution, and conservation biology.
Those in agricultural sciences learn about soil and water conservation, agricultural production, and poultry science. These students take such classes as chemistry, physics, biology, and may take neurobiology, physiology, horticultural science, and soil and water conservation.
Students in natural resources can choose from a variety of concentrations, including ecosystem assessment, policy and administration, economics and management, soil resources, or marine and coastal resources.
So what’s the payout for students who major in these study-intensive areas? According to salary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, zoologists and wildlife biologists make a median annual wage of $57,710. Conservation scientists and foresters earn $58,060 annually, and agricultural and food scientists make $58,610. Environmental scientists and specialists earn $63,570, and microbiologists make $66,260.
5 4: Health Professions
Time Requirement: 16 Hours/Week
Students in health professions also spent seven additional hours per week reading, and cranked out an average of 75 pages of writing assignments.
At the University of Alabama at Birmingham, examples of degrees in health professions include occupational therapy, health care management, biomedical sciences, health information management, medical technology, nuclear medicine technology, and respiratory therapy.
Students often use an undergraduate degree in health professions as a stepping-stone to get a master’s degree in genetic counseling, nutrition sciences, occupational therapy, biotechnology or clinical lab sciences. Other students attend medical school and study optometry, dentistry, gynecology, neurosurgery, and other medical specialties.
Physicians and surgeons are some of the highest paid professionals in any industry, earning anywhere from $187,200 to $230,000. Also, dentists make $149,310, and pharmacists earn $116,670. Other medical professionals, such as occupational health and safety specialists earn $66,790, while orthotists and prosthetists make $62,670, and dieticians and nutritionists make $55,240.
3 3: Arts And Humanities
Time Requirement: 16 Hours/Week
Add another eight hours in reading assignments, and 80 pages of writing assignments.
Arts and Humanities include visual and performing arts, and at Ohio State University. It also includes such majors as English, French, German, and other foreign languages, in addition to linguistics and philosophy. Other degrees in this field include romance studies, world literature, film studies, history, and history of art.
Many people think that a liberal arts education is easy, but consider this: While you were watching the computer-generated movie version of “Beowulf” with Angelina Jolie, English majors had to read the original text. All 3,182 Old English alliterative verses of it.
So are these students richly rewarded for their efforts? Nope. Obviously, it’s a labor of love.
Fine artists, such as painters, sculptors, and illustrators earn $44,380 annually. Museum conservators, archivists and curators make $51,910. College-level foreign language and literature teachers make $58,620, and that usually requires a master’s degree.
2 2: Physical Sciences, Mathematics, & Computer Science
Time Requirement: 17 Hours/Week
Seniors in physical sciences, mathematics and computer science spent an additional six hours reading assignments for class, and wrote roughly 58 pages of assignments.
It’s not a lightweight field. For example, at the University of California at Los Angeles, UCLA, students in atmospheric and oceanic science study such issues as greenhouse warming, climate change, air pollution and the ozone layer.
Chemistry and biochemistry students may learn about theory and computation, organic and inorganic chemistry, analytical chemistry and physical chemistry. Students majoring in physics study plasma physicals, nuclear physics, accelerator physics, and atomic molecular optical physics.
In astronomy, students learn about black holes, cosmic catastrophes, stellular evolution, galaxies and cosmology. Statistics includes statistical models and algorithms, statistical consulting, and mathematics.
Chemists and materials scientists earn $73,060, and geographers earn $74,760. Network and computer systems administrators make $72,560, while software developers earn $93,350. Statisticians with a master’s degree earn $75,560, while mathematicians with a master’s degree earn $101,360. Students who obtain a doctoral degree in physics or astronomy can make $106,360 annually.
1 1: Engineering
Time Requirement: 19 Hours/Week
In addition to spending the most time studying per week, senior engineering students stated that they also spent five hours reading, and wrote about 86 pages of assignments.
There are a variety of engineering specialties to choose from, including civil engineering, chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, and petroleum engineering. Other specialties include electrical engineering, electronics engineering, nuclear engineering, and aerospace engineering. Still other branches of engineering include environmental engineering, mining and geological engineering, industrial engineering, materials engineering, and marine engineers.
Regardless of the specialty, most engineers take chemistry, physics, and advanced mathematics such as trigonometry and calculus.
Engineers each lucrative salaries across the board. At the “bottom” of the pay scale are agricultural engineers at $74,000, industrial engineers at $78,860, and civil engineers at $79,340. Mid-range salaries include $85,150 for materials engineers, $86,980 for biomedical engineers, and $89,630 for electrical and electronics engineers. Crossing the $100K threshold are computer hardware engineers at $100,920, aerospace engineers at $103,720, nuclear engineers at $104,270, and petroleum engineers at $130,280.
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