This article reviews the recent literature on the determinants of college major choices. We first highlight long-term trends and persistent differences in college major choices by gender, race, and family background. We then review the existing research in six key areas: expected earnings and ability sorting, learning, subjective expectations, non-pecuniary considerations, peer and family effects, and supply side factors. We examine and compare the various approaches employed by previous research and highlight key areas for future research.
We thank Esteban Aucejo, Joe Altonji, Arnaud Maurel and Todd Stinebrickner for their helpful comments. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.