story | Dion Ho, Senior Writer

photo | Dion Ho, Senior Writer


From March 19 to 23, 182 students from the class of 2020 declared their majors in the annual Major Declaration Exercise. The following data on students’ choice of major was provided to The Octant by the Dean of Faculty Office on March 29.

The two most popular majors are Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) with 34 students and Mathematical, Computational and Statistical Sciences (MCS) with 33 students. Conversely, the two least popular majors are Physical Sciences with four students and History with five students.

A graph of the percentage composition of major declarations per class since the class of 2017 (DDP is excluded)

This year saw significant changes to the distribution of majors as five majors reached an all-time high in their student intake: PPE (34), MCS (33), Psychology (17), Literature (12), and Philosophy (7). Conversely, four majors are at an all-time low in their student intake: History (5), Global Affairs (7), Urban Studies (8), Anthropology (9). The number of Environmental Studies majors has remained fairly constant since the inaugural batch. There are 13 Environmental Studies majors in the class of 2020, which matches the yearly average of the last three cohorts. The number of Double-Degree Law Programme (DDP) students also remained fairly constant at 12, as compared to the yearly average of 11 students.

The percentage changes in major declarations and number of DDP students as compared to last year

As compared to last year, there are some major percentage changes in the number of students who declared each major. The two biggest increases came from PPE and Literature. The number of PPE majors increased by 162% from 13 students to 34, while the number of Literature majors increased by 140% from 5 students to 12.

The increase in PPE majors also resulted in a reversal of last year’s trend, with PPE reclaiming its position of the most popular major in Yale-NUS from MCS. However, the number of PPE majors from the class of 2019 was particularly low compared to the classes of 2017 and 2018, which partly explains the massive percentage increase in the number of PPE majors this year. MCS, meanwhile, has steadily increased its student intake since the inaugural batch. The number of MCS majors increased by 50% from 22 students to 33 this year.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, History and Urban Studies suffered the greatest percentage decrease in their student intake. The number of History majors dropped by 64% from an all-time high of 14 students for the class of 2019, to only five this year. The number of Urban Studies majors also dropped by 56% from its relatively high intake of 18 students last year to eight students this year.

It should also be noted that the class of 2020 is significantly larger than the classes of 2018 and 2017. Therefore, even though the Urban Studies major’s intake of eight students this year is comparable to the intake of nine students from the classes of 2018 and 2017 each, the percentage composition of Urban Studies majors in the class of 2020 is much lower.

A unique change in this year’s major declaration statistics is the decrease in diversity of declared majors. 67 students in the class of 2020 selected a PPE or MCS major, forming almost 40% of the 182 students who participated in the exercise. In comparison, the nine least popular majors had a combined intake of 69 students. However, students will be able to change their major even after the Major Declaration Exercise.

This article serves to provide the highlights of this year’s major declaration statistics. A follow-up article with more in-depth statistical analysis will be published in the near future.