Ten majors at the University of Maryland have seen significant enrollment increases across the last decade, according to an analysis by The Diamondback.
Ten undergraduate majors with more than 100 enrolled students in 2012 have seen at least a 20 percent enrollment increase as of the fall 2022 semester. The business school holds half of those top 10 spots — boasting significant enrollment increases for the finance, information systems, marketing, management and operations management majors.
Management majors have seen the largest growth in enrollment at this university since 2012 — with a nearly 160 percent increase. Management and marketing majors are the only two academic programs at this university that have seen an increase in enrollment by more than 20 percent across both the last five years and last 10 years.
Nicole Coomber, a clinical professor of management and organization and the assistant dean for experiential learning at this university’s business school, speculated that management and marketing majors have seen an increase in enrollment because students are declaring them as supplementary secondary majors.
“There are a lot of careers that are tied with management like consulting, like sales, like relationship management,” Coomber said. “It’s a great second major because everybody has to work with people.”
About 40 percent of business school students are double majors, according to a business school spokesperson.
Junior management major Elyse Griffith was originally an accounting major, but switched to management. Griffith said degrees in fields like management and marketing are more versatile than other business degrees, such as accounting, because they can be used outside of a business industry.
Michael Kimbrough, an accounting professor and area chair of the accounting and information assurance department in this university’s business school, emphasized that with the increasing demand for technological skills focusing on data and artificial intelligence, students may be looking to pursue majors that allow them to enter industries they feel will shape the future. Students also want to work in areas that align with their values, Kimbrough said.
“Today's students are more mission-driven. They kind of want to feel that they're doing work that's important,” Kimbrough said. “They want to feel like they're doing creative work that helps solve problems that they care about.”
Technological advancements such as artificial intelligence have been a driving factor for significant enrollment increases in five other majors within the engineering school and the computer, mathematical, and natural sciences college, according to several faculty members at this university.
Samuel Graham, Jr., the engineering school’s dean, added that as students look for opportunities in space exploration, robotics and autonomy, they turn to fields such as aerospace, mechanical and computer engineering, which are all among the 10 majors that have seen the largest enrollment increases since 2012.
“Artificial intelligence, advances in space exploration, and the electrification of energy systems for state-of-the-art transportation are all examples of breakthroughs driving our society and economy — technologies designed by engineers,” Graham said in a written statement.
Christopher Cadou, an aerospace engineering professor, said the increased national conversation around space travel and new job prospects at companies, such as NASA and SpaceX, has led more students to pursue aerospace engineering.
“Before I started here, it was almost impossible for our graduates to get a job at NASA,” Cadou said. “Now students actually see an opportunity to work in that field — that really exciting field. In my mind, that’s probably why you have more students being attracted to space and you can certainly see in our program now.”
Donald Yeung, the associate chair of the electrical and computer engineering undergraduate education department, said that the development of artificial intelligence has also contributed to more students studying computer engineering.
Yeung said that computing “permeates every aspect of our lives.” This trend will continue through artificial intelligence advancements in cybersecurity, network development and more, he added.
Other university faculty members speculated that higher starting salaries for some majors, such as computer science, have incentivized students to pursue these fields.
Since 2012, computer science majors have seen a 128 percent increase in enrollment as of fall 2022, according to an analysis by The Diamondback.
In a statement to The Diamondback, the university’s computer, mathematical and natural sciences college said that career prospects are “promising for computer science majors.” A 2022 graduation survey from this university’s career center reported that 98 percent of computer science graduates at this university were placed with a range of “notable employers” with a median starting salary of $100,000.
In an interview with The Diamondback, university president Darryll Pines said this university is studying these trends in enrollment and working to ensure every department has sufficient resources.
“Department heads … are looking to see what trends are happening with enrollment of students, and then adjusting resources,” Pines said. “Teaching resources and other support resources to make sure they can handle and adapt to the trends.”