Wednesday, March 22, 2023

The Class of 2021 Declares Their Majors

story | Dion Ho, Senior Writer

photo | Yoonju Julie Jung


The Major Declaration Exercise for the Class of 2021 has concluded. With 232 students in the Class of 2021, up from 194 students in the Class of 2020, this round of major declarations will have a major impact on the student distribution across the different majors going forward.

The most obvious change in the statistics this year as compared to last year is that the number of students joining each major is more evenly distributed. While Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) and Mathematical, Computational and Statistical Sciences (MCS) are still the two most popular majors in Yale-NUS, both had fewer declarations despite the greater number of students in the Class of 2021 as compared to the Class of 2020. Notably, this is the first year in which the number of students who declared MCS decreased. In contrast, 11 majors enjoyed an increase in the influx of students, with thrice as many students joining the Physical Sciences as compared to last year.

This year also saw a surge in the number of students who declared a Social Science major. Every Social Science major saw an increase in the number of major declarations as compared to last year. In fact, discounting the students who declared Environmental Science (ES) since ES counts as a Science, Social Science and Humanities, more than half of the Class of 2021 declared a Social Science as their major. Notably, the number of students who declared an Urban Studies major has fluctuated once again, with 20 students majoring in the subject this year, 8 in the Class of 2020, 18 in the Class of 2019 and 9 in the Class of 2018.

On the other hand, two Humanities majors: Literature, and Arts and Humanities both received a smaller influx of students as compared to last year. While this decrease is partially offset by the large influx of students to the History major, overall, the percentage of students who declared a Humanities major dropped from 38% last year to 15% this year (excluding ES). Accordingly, Literature, Arts and Humanities, and Philosophy are the least popular majors for the Class of 2021, with 8 declarations each.

With examination of the trend across the 5 years: 2017 to 2021, PPE and MCS have fortified themselves as the two most popular majors by a significant margin. Moreover, Psychology, ES and Economics have consistently captured a significant share of each batch of students and they are now the next three most popular majors in Yale-NUS.

In contrast, while the Arts and Humanities major was the second most popular major for the Class of 2019, its popularity has slowly decreased across the last three years. With the addition of students from the Class of 2021, the Arts and Humanities major has for the first time been surpassed by many of the Social Science majors in the total number of students who majored in it.

Beginning with the Class of 2021, the number of students in each batch should stabilize at around 250 students. Next year’s major declaration statistics will be especially interesting as we may see a stabilization in the number of students who declare each major. Indeed, this year’s statistics have already shown that previously popular majors like PPE, MCS, Psychology, ES and Economics are remaining popular.

View our analysis of the Major Declaration Statistics of the previous classes here: 2020 part 1, 2020 part 2, 2019 and before.


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