Responding to a discussion on today’s earlier post, I happened to look up some statistics on undergraduate degrees in the United States — and, as the Taboola ads say, you will be shocked!
This table shows the changes in undergraduate degrees awarded over the past forty-five years. There’s been a total 132% growth in the number of degrees, so if a field is at 232% of its 1971 total it’s just keeping pace. Here are some winners and losers.
Education (73% of the 1971 total in 2016)
Foreign languages (84%)
Social sciences and history (about flat!)
Math and statistics (about flat)
Business (330% of the 1971 total in 2016)
Biomedical sciences (327%)
CompSci (2,990%, duh)
Health professions (943%)
Gender and race studies (302%)
Homeland security, law enforcement, fire fighting (2,913%)
General humanities (581%)
Visual and performing arts (310)
That last one caught my eye. In 1971, this country graduated about 25% more bachelor’s-degree engineers every year than it did psychologists. In 2017, we had 116,861 engineering majors and 115,640 psychology majors. This might lead you to think that there are about as many engineers as psychologists working in their field at the moment. The truth of the matter, however, is that there are apparently 106,000 psychologists working in the country compared to more than 1.6 million engineers! Obviously the vast majority of psych grads don’t go on to get the advanced degrees they’d need to practice, but still — who is advising all these people to get that degree? What happens to all of these would-be psychologists? Here’s a hint: instead of writing prescriptions, they’re writing on coffee cups. Maybe it’s not your bartender you should be sharing your troubles with, but your barista. Be aware, however, you’ll be sharing your therapist with this guy.