Economics, not history, is the hot major for undergraduates





What's your major? Around the world, college undergraduates' time-honored question is increasingly drawing the same answer: economics.

U.S. colleges and universities awarded 16,141 degrees to economics majors in the 2003-2004 academic year, up nearly 40% from five years earlier, according to John J. Siegfried, an economics professor at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., who tracks 272 colleges and universities around the country for the Journal of Economic Education.

Since the mid-1990s, the number of students majoring in economics has been rising, while the number majoring in political science and government has declined and the number majoring in history and sociology has barely grown, according to the government's National Center for Education Statistics.

"There has been a clear explosion of economics as a major," says Mark Gertler, chairman of New York University's economics department.

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