Top 20 Degrees for the Future

An image of a technology student for our article on the Top 20 Degrees for the Future

Wouldn’t it be great to know how much money you’ll make after college or if you will find a job right after you graduate?

Since the future is uncertain, how do you plan for it during your college years?

First, look for a degree that’s in demand.

Then look for a related career with the biggest payoff.

The top 20 best degrees for the future we have listed below show promise for the future. They check the boxes in terms of:

  • job growth
  • strong demand
  • strong earnings potential

Read on to learn which courses of the future you should take, along with the best majors for future.

1. Sustainable and Renewable Energy

If you want to be a leader of green economy, you need a top 10 degree for the future.

In this program, you’ll study how policy change affects our natural world. You’ll also increase your awareness of the world’s natural resources.

While few bachelor’s programs exist in this subject, there are related majors you can choose. From ocean science to ecology. But all programs prepare you for graduate school or a career.

Plan on taking these courses of the future:

  • Earth’s dynamic weather
  • Greening the economy
  • Solar energy trends

You will also take classes in economics and technology. Graduates go to work as scientists and techs, but most go to graduate school.

Lastly, this STEM major offer strong job growth and good wages. But some jobs require a master’s degree.

Find top schools for best degrees for the future at:

Illinois State University
Penn State World Campus

2. Industrial and Organizational Psychology

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports average wages of $92,880 for this career. However, top 10% of workers in this occupation earn more than $200,000 per year.

But the first step toward going to work is to earn one of the most useful degrees for the future.

First, you will need to take classes that cover topics from hiring and staffing to how people behave on the job. You will also take classes in leadership and management.

Once you enter your senior year, plan on completing a final project or thesis. Since most psychologist jobs require a master’s degree, you should go to graduate school.

However, the end result is a stable career with high wages. In fact, U.S. News and World Report ranks this job #3 in best science jobs and #26 in best STEM jobs.

Schools for top degrees in demand for the future:

Purdue Global
Southern New Hampshire University

3. Atmospheric Sciences

Want to explore weather and environment-related topics? This degree will help.

With this degree you can also become a meteorologist.

Your classes will cover topics like:

  • Earth systems
  • Ocean systems
  • Satellite and radar
  • Weather patterns

You can get either a bachelor’s or master’s degree and go to work with government agencies like NOAA and the National Weather Service.

You can also work for private consulting firms.

But before you choose your school, make sure it’s accredited. These programs follow the guide of the American Meteorological Society.

Find top programs for the best college degrees for the future at:

UMASS Lowell
University of North Dakota

4. Game Design

Remember when you were told to get off the screens? Well, what if you could make money building games and playing them?

Video game designers and software developers work for companies like Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft.

But to work for these companies as a game designer, you need training and a college degree. However, training comes from a game design program.

In these programs, you take courses of the future like:

  • 3D modeling and animation
  • Graphics game engine
  • Virtual reality

You can even pick up a minor or take classes in game art or mobile game design.

Lastly, once you graduate, you will find many job openings since this is one of the most in-demand careers. Game design has a lot to offer. It’s no wonder it’s seen as one of the top degrees for the future.

Top programs for game design:

Lindenwood University
Rochester Institute of Technology
The University of Arizona

5. Epidemiology

In this program, you will study diseases. You will also learn what causes them and how to prevent them.

You will take science courses and complete lab work. Your courses cover topics like:

  • Biostatistics
  • Chronic diseases
  • Community health
  • Intro to public health

But to work in in labs, colleges, pharmaceutical companies, or public health agencies, you need a graduate degree.

Once you’ve earned your degree, you will enjoy a strong job growth and good pay. In fact, average wages are $74,560. However, top 10% of employees make $126,040 per year.

Find top degrees for the future at:

Indiana University
University of Illinois Chicago

6. The Internet of Things

High demand jobs for the future include IoT-related careers. But to land a top job in IoT, you need a degree.

This program teaches you how our devices “talk” to each other. From watches to home security systems, you learn about the language of our smart devices.

You also learn how to trouble shoot and think critically. As a result, you graduate ready for work in a high demand job.

In this program, you take courses that explore topics like:

  • Cybersecurity
  • Data analysis
  • Intro to computer design
  • Sensors for IoT

Additionally, all of what you learn in school allows you to work in different fields. For example, energy, medicine, and transportation are all fields that hire these specialists.

Find top IoT degrees of the future at:

Florida International University
University of New Mexico

7. Robotics

How do you start your dream job in robotics?

First, you must get a college degree.

Bachelor’s in robotics programs cover computers and engineering courses. They teach you how code and program robots or robotic elements.

Classes teach how to:

  • design robots
  • operate robots
  • “think” like a robot
  • troubleshoot problems

But after you graduate college, you can work as a robotics engineer. This in-demand career will last well into the future. For instance, the auto industry hires thousands of robotics engineers each year.

Lastly, this job pays well and offers a strong job outlook.

If you enjoyed math and physics in high school, consider a degree in this field.

Find some of the best degrees to get for the future at:

Lawrence Technological University
Maryville University

8. Artificial Intelligence

AI is a popular career choice for college students in STEM. Thousands of job openings occur each year.

In addition to passion, students go into the field of AI for the pay. AI professionals earn between $96,000 and $200,000 per year.

But to land a top-paying job in this field, you need a degree.

Considered one of the best degrees to get for the future, AI programs offer courses like:

  • Computer vision
  • Ethics
  • Functional programming

You also take seminars and complete research projects.

Find top AI programs at:

Carnegie Mellon University
University of Colorado Boulder

9. Health Information Technology

Interested in health care and technology? Want to earn a degree that blends both your interests?

Consider a degree in HIT.

In this program, you learn how to analyze, process, and manage health information. You also learn how to code and store medical records.

You take classes like:

  • Critical thinking
  • Healthcare data management
  • Health law and ethics
  • Intro to computers

Students complete 120 credits for a bachelor’s degree. You also complete an internship or a field experience.

According to the BLS, strong wages and good job growth draw students to the field. Additionally, the average salary for an HIT manager is about $100,000 per year.

Top HIT programs include:

Southern New Hampshire University
University of Central Florida

10. Mechatronics

This field of engineering teaches you about the design and production of automated equipment. It also teaches you how manufacturing processes work.

As you can tell from the name, mechatronics is a combination of mechanisms and electronics. But a degree in it is much more.

Some programs focus on computer-integrated manufacturing, while others look at practical physics. From fluid power to statistics, you learn about the field through lab-based projects and discussions.

Plan on taking courses in:

  • Circuits
  • Components
  • Control techniques

With a bachelor’s degree, you can go to work at companies like GE, GM, IBM, NASA, and Tesla. You can also earn high wages.

Find the best majors for the future at:

Capitol Technology University
Kent State University

11. Chemical Engineering

In engineering, the best courses to study for the future include chemical engineering. And a chemical engineering degree promises good wages and strong job growth.

In fact, a 9% job growth through 2030 is expected. That’s 2% higher than the average for all other engineering fields.

In a bachelor’s degree program, you take courses like:

  • Chemical process thermodynamics
  • Intro to chemical engineering
  • Mixtures
  • Process labs

Upon graduating, you can go to grad school and earn a master’s degree or go to work in an entry-level job.

Find the most useful degrees for the future at:
Florida Tech
North Carolina State University

12. Nursing

About 194,500 job openings for RNs will result through 2030. As a result, nursing is one of the best degrees for the future.

Not only is the job rewarding, but also ideal if you want to help people. You can also earn high wages and find employment in every city and state.

Nursing college majors take classes like:

  • Community health nursing
  • Evidence-based practice
  • RN health assessment

Plan on taking many labs with your classes because lab work prepares you for patient care. You learn how to examine patients and provide care based on their symptoms. You also learn to work alongside doctors and other nursing staff.

Upon graduating, you can earn an MSN and specialize in a field of nursing, such as family, geriatric, or nurse education.

Currently, community health nurses are in high demand.

Find top nursing programs at:
Baker University
Simmons University

13. Biomedical Engineering

Biomedical engineers earn average wages of about $93,000 per year. However, the top 10% see more than $150,000 per year.

But to earn these strong wages, you must have a degree in the field.

If you have an interest in science and math and want to use your passion to solve complex problems, this major is a good fit.

In this program, you learn how to apply science to engineering principles. You also learn how the field relates to healthcare and medicine.

You take classes in:

  • computers
  • biomedicine
  • physics

You also complete lab work and projects.

But when you’re finishing, you hold one of the best bachelor degrees for the future.

Find the best college degrees for the future at:
Duke University
University of Arizona

14. Computational Linguistics

Interested in the language computers “speak?” Want to know what makes Alexa and Siri “think?”

This program teaches you about the latest advancements in grammar checking and speech. It also teaches you how machines translate information.

You take courses that explore how computers model our natural language.

If you have a strong computer science background and enjoy math and statistics, this major is a good fit.

Once you’ve chosen your major, you can focus on a subfield like:

  • AI
  • Data science
  • Machine learning
  • Robotics

Lastly, once you graduate, you can enjoy high wages and stable job growth. In fact, workers in this field earn over $170,000 per year. However, the average pay is about $110,000 per year.

Find top computer programs at:
Stanford University
University of Rochester

15. Information Technology

For years, even decades, IT has offered job growth and security. The field also pays strong wages for college grads. In fact, six-figure salaries await students with IT degrees.

But to land a top-paying career in IT, you must hold a college degree.

IT programs are offered at nearly every college. You should, however, only pursue a degree from an accredited school.

IT programs offer courses like:

  • Computer science
  • Computer systems software and hardware
  • Information technology

Within an IT program, you can tailor your degree to fit your interests or career goals. Popular specializations include cybersecurity, health information management, and IT management.

After you earn a degree and complete a focus area, you can land a job in just about any industry. From healthcare to business, IT jobs await those with training and skills.

Since there are different career options, IT is a popular program for college students.

Find the best degrees to get for the future at:
Arizona State University
Purdue University Global

16. Big Data

One of the fastest-growing fields in the world is data science. This field studies big data from:

  • business
  • computers
  • economics
  • social sciences

Students take courses with topics like”

  • Cloud computing
  • Databases
  • High performance computing

You also take business and social science courses. Because of its strong foundation in liberal arts, you graduate ready for work in nearly every field. In fact, students go to work in business, economics, education, and healthcare.

This major is good for students who are both STEM-bent and have interests in social sciences.

Find the top big data programs at:
Bellevue University
University of North Dakota

17. Construction Management

Construction managers make close to $100,000 per year. But more than the good wages is the strong job growth that’s expected over the next ten years. In fact, this career will see an 11% job growth.

How do you become a construction manager? School and training.

However, you won’t spend years in college. Some programs offer AA degrees that take two years, while BA degree programs take four years. But online programs often take less time to complete.

Courses prepare you for work in the field. They also teach you how to:

  • manage construction sites
  • plan projects
  • survey

You graduate ready to go to work. However, you will need training before moving up the ranks of a company. But if you work for yourself, you can run a business with only the training you received from college. You might, however, want to start out with smaller projects before you expand to larger ones.

Construction management programs also prepare you for work as:

  • building engineers
  • building surveyors
  • estimators
  • fire risk assessors
  • site managers

Find top programs at:
Everglades University
Indiana State University

18. Electrical Engineering

Electrical engineers earn strong wages. They also see good job growth in the field. In fact, a 7% job growth is expected over the next decade.

But to work in this field, you need a college degree. In fact, a bachelor’s degree from an ABET-accredited school is required by most employers.

You can earn your degree online or in-person. While in-person programs take four years to complete, some online programs take two to three years.

Electrical engineering top courses of the future you will take include:

  • Circuits
  • Intro to engineering
  • Signals and systems

After your degree, you need job experience. To get this before you graduate, plan on completing an internship in college.

But once you’ve earned a degree and gained work experience, you’re ready for a career in this top field of the future.

Lastly, your career choices aren’t limited. In fact, you can go to work as an electrical engineer in just about any industry, from computers to healthcare.

Find top degrees of the future at:
Arizona State University
Boston University

19. Drone Technology

All degree levels are available in the study of unmanned aerial systems and vehicles, from associate’s to master’s degrees.

Since this field is poised to be a game-changer for industries like agriculture and retail business, it’s no wonder why it’s considered a degree for the future. The field is expanding.

To keep up with growth, new programs have emerged. Drone technology programs teach you how unmanned aircraft work. They also prepare you to earn your FAA license as a certified operator.

You take courses that cover topics like:

  • Aviation weather
  • Drone pilot training
  • Intro to technology

After you earn your degree, you can find work in:

  • agriculture
  • construction
  • search and rescue services

Drone engineers earn top wages. In fact, earnings hover around $80,000 per year. However, top earners make about $142,000 per year.

Find the best majors for the future at:
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Kent State University

20. Data Analytics and Business Intelligence

Are you good at math and enjoy learning about business topics?

Do you like researching and problem solving?

This field of business combines math and statistics. It requires strong math skills and the ability to look at data and draw conclusions.

Degree programs in this subject prepare students for careers in business, marketing, and sales. You can also land a job as a data or market analyst.

Wages for market researchers and analysts are high. In fact, the top 10% in this role make more than $127,000 per year.

In addition, 22% job growth is expected over the next ten years. As a result, you should see plenty of job openings after you graduate from college. But to land a job as an analyst, you need a college degree. In fact, bachelor’s degrees are required by most employers.

Find top degrees in demand for the future at:
Clarkson University
Creighton University

BDP Staff
October 2021

Related:

This concludes our list of the top 20 degrees for the future.

Brenda Rufener
Author

Julie McCaulley
Expert

Carrie Sealey-Morris
Editor-in-Chief