• October 31, 2014

Fastest-Declining Academic Fields at 4-Year Colleges

From 1971 to 2006, these degree-granting disciplines experienced the biggest drops in the proportion of four-year colleges that offered them.
Field % of colleges offering the field, 1971 % of colleges offering the field, 2006 Percentage-point decline
Core fields (offered by more than 50 percent of colleges in 1970-71)
Romance languages/literatures 75.6% 58.6% 17.0
History 91.6% 81.6% 10.0
Sociology 77.1% 67.7% 9.4
Mathematics and statistics 89.5% 80.3% 9.3
English 94.7% 86.0% 8.7
Chemistry 80.3% 72.6% 7.7
Economics 56.0% 49.4% 6.6
Physics 53.2% 47.4% 5.8
Education: teaching and curriculum 79.6% 75.3% 4.3
Biology/life sciences 88.5% 84.7% 3.8
Mass fields (offered by 20 percent to 49 percent of colleges in 1970-71)
Germanic languages/literatures 44.2% 26.6% 17.6
Home economics/consumer science 28.7% 22.2% 6.4
Classical languages/literatures 21.5% 16.8% 4.7
Geography 22.3% 19.3% 3
Geology/earth sciences 27.7% 27.2% 0.5
Niche fields (offered by 5 percent to 19 percent of colleges in 1970-71)
Administrative assistant/secretarial science 16.7% 1.2% 15.5
Zoology 10.8% 4.1% 6.7
Library science 6.6% 0.7% 5.9
Slavic languages/literatures 14.2% 9.3% 4.9
Botany 7.9% 3.2% 4.7
Agronomy/crop science 5.1% 3.0% 2.0
Industrial engineering 8.9% 7.0% 1.9
Sources: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics; Steven Brint, Kristopher Proctor, Kerry Mulligan, Matthew B. Rotondi, and Robert A. Hanneman, authors of "Declining Academic Fields in U.S. Four-Year Colleges and Universities, 1970-2006"
subscribe today

Get the insight you need for success in academe.