Top 10 Most Popular Majors at Stanford

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Most students know that Stanford is one of the country’s most prestigious colleges. However, far fewer prospective applicants possess an in-depth understanding of the most popular majors at Stanford University and the courses that set the school apart. 

While virtually all Stanford programs are going to be engaging and academically challenging, there are a few that have gained significant popularity. Keep reading to learn more about the best majors at Stanford University and the classes students should put at the top of their wish lists.

What Majors is Stanford Known For?

Students who are admitted to Stanford University will have a breadth of programs and courses to choose from. The college is made up of seven schools, including the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences, the School of Engineering, the School of Humanities & Sciences, the School of Law, the School of Medicine, and the Graduate Schools of Business and Education.

Amongst these schools, the School of Engineering is arguably the best known, as it ranks second on the U.S. News’ list of Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs. Since interdisciplinary study is extremely important at Stanford, the university has created several ways for students to explore different fields and integrate them into their learning experience.

For example, the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment is a hub for the college’s interdisciplinary environment and sustainability research. Similarly, Stanford’s Global Engineering Programs (GEPs) provide students with the opportunity to learn about technology and engineering on a global scale while gaining real-world experience and developing networks across the globe.

Top 10 Most Popular Majors at Stanford

While the School of Engineering may be amongst the most famous, the most popular Stanford majors span all of the university’s schools. Some of the top programs to consider include:

#1 Computer Science Major

The Stanford computer science major was founded in 1965 and has maintained its reputation for academic excellence and digital innovation ever since. The program is dedicated to exploring the subject areas of computer science, including a student’s ability to apply the defining processes of computer science theory, abstraction, design, and implementation to solve problems in the discipline.

High school students who know that computer science is one of their passions can begin honing their skills well before college by working one-on-one with a private computer science tutor, like our own Brian.

Some popular career opportunities that students with computer science degrees typically pursue include:

  • Software engineer
  • Web developer
  • Data scientist
  • Product manager
  • Information technology specialist

#2 Economics Major

Another popular major for quantitative-minded students is the economics major. At Stanford,  economic courses are grouped into the following core areas of focus: Behavioral & Experimental, Finance, International & Development, Government Policy Analysis, Quantitative Methods, Business Strategy, and Regulation. 

If high school students are looking to get a jump start on preparing for an economics major, they can study with a tutor who has dedicated expertise on the subject, such as Kelcie, our economics tutor here at IvyWise.

Some career opportunities for a student with a Stanford economics major include:

  • Financial analyst
  • Accountant
  • Researcher
  • Investment analyst
  • Business analyst

#3 Human Biology Major

Students who are interested in pursuing the life sciences shouldn’t overlook another of Stanford’s most popular majors, the Stanford Human Biology major. It is one of the college’s largest undergraduate majors, and approximately 50% of Human Biology students go on to pursue a medical degree. Here at IvyWise, we’re lucky to count some of our own faculty as Stanford alums, including Alex, who has shared her own insights into what Stanford is like

The school also has a renowned marine biology program, which boasts state-of-the-art laboratories and an extensive library of marine science books, journals, and other resources. Top careers for human biology graduates include: 

  • Biological science professors
  • Researchers
  • Doctors
  • Anthropologists
  • Social sciences professors

#4 Management Science and Engineering Major

The Management Science and Engineering major leads at the interface of engineering, business, and public policy. The department’s mission is, through education and research, to advance the design, management, operation, and interaction of technological, economic, and social systems.

Career opportunities for this popular Stanford major include:

  • Business analyst
  • Management consultant
  • Data analyst
  • Operations research analyst
  • Budget analyst

#5 Symbolic Systems Major

Symbolic Systems isn’t just one of the most popular Stanford majors, it’s also one of the most unique. The program integrates knowledge from diverse fields of study, including computer science, linguistics, mathematics, philosophy, psychology, and statistics. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg once visited the major’s labs and said that some of the smartest people at Facebook come from Symbolic Systems.

Given its interdisciplinary nature, a Stanford symbolic systems major can pursue a range of career opportunities, including:

  • Program Manager
  • Product Manager
  • Software engineer
  • Strategic consulting
  • Financial analyst

#6 Political Science Major

Students should consider Stanford’s popular political science major if they want to engage with issues such as public policies, governance systems, and institutional design. The department offers a breadth of courses taught by leading experts in domestic and international politics.

Some potential career opportunities for a political science major at Stanford include: 

  • Political reporter
  • Social media manager
  • Lawyer
  • Social worker
  • Campaign manager

#7 Mechanical Engineering Major

Given the notoriety of its engineering school, it’s no surprise that Mechanical Engineering is among the most popular majors at Stanford. The program emphasizes a mix of applied mechanics, biomechanical engineering, computer simulations, design, and energy science and technology. 

Potential career opportunities for students with this major include:

  • Aerospace engineer
  • Biomedical engineers
  • Automotive engineer
  • Manufacturing engineer
  • Patent lawyer

#8 Electrical Engineering Major

Another of Stanford’s best majors is the Electrical Engineering major. The curriculum is organized into several disciplinary areas: bio-electronics and bio-imaging; circuits and devices; computer hardware; computer software; music; signal processing, communication and controls; and photonics, solid state and electromagnetics; and energy and environment. There are also several interdisciplinary elective areas so that students can expand their horizons and work cross-functionally through various departments.

Popular career opportunities for this major include:

  • Controls engineer
  • Design engineer
  • Test engineer
  • Communications engineer
  • Systems engineer

#9 International Relations Major

International Relations is another of Stanford’s most popular majors. The program is an interdisciplinary major that studies the interaction of actors in international politics, including state and non-state actors such as the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, Amnesty International, and other NGOs.

Potential career opportunities include:

  • Politician
  • Diplomat
  • Economist
  • Foreign affairs analyst
  • Intelligence specialist

#10 Mathematics

Last but certainly not least, the mathematics major is designed to provide students with a broad understanding of mathematics in several areas, including logical reasoning, generalization, abstraction, and formal proof. Courses in this department focus on the creation, analysis, and interpretation of mathematical models to communicate reason-based arguments. The mathematics degree prepares students for careers in the corporate sector and government agencies, and for graduate programs in a variety of quantitative fields.

Potential career opportunities include:

  • Mathematician or statistician
  • Actuary
  • High school teacher
  • Data scientist
  • Market research analyst

How Do I Choose a Major At Stanford?

Choosing a college major can be challenging for any student, and at Stanford, the breadth of top-tier programs can make it feel even more complex. At most colleges, students can change their major until their sophomore year, so it’s ok to be unsure about your area of focus when you begin college. Take some time to reflect on the academic subjects that interest you most, your future career goals, and the projects and assignments you’ve excelled in thus far.

Can You Double Major at Stanford?

If you’re interested in more than one major, you might wish to consider pursuing a double major option. At Stanford University, it is possible to add a secondary major to your coursework. 

However, it’s important to keep in mind that double majors will need to fulfill all of the requirements for both majors with no overlapping courses, which means students will need to plan ahead and meet with their academic advisor to ensure they have all the credits needed to graduate with their desired degree. 

If these Stanford majors sound compelling to you, read our article on how to apply to Stanford.





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