Two Roads Diverged in a Wood

The connection between undergraduate major and occupation

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both/and be one traveler, long I stood
and looked down one as far as I could…

—From “The Road Not Taken,” by Robert Frost

Although it’s highly unlikely that poet Robert Frost had undergraduate majors and occupations in mind when he wrote “The Road Not Taken,” his poem offers insight on the link between the two. The bottom line: The path you take as an undergraduate matters, but your major is just one of many decisions that contribute to your occupational choices.

“Your choice of major is not as closely linked to your occupation as most people imagine,” says Emily Bardeen, director of Alumni Career Services. “For example, the business world draws students from across the University, not just the Comm School. And your choice of undergraduate major doesn’t limit you to a certain occupation. Look at governmental studies majors, for instance. They aren’t all going into government service.”


Cameron Mura on 04/18/2018

Neat—There are only two undergraduate major areas (left side of the circle) that are fully connected to all of the clusters of occupations (on the right).  One of these major areas I may have suspected (I’m biased!), but not the other. Also interesting is the strength of the correlation between some of the fields and the number of eventual occupational areas: Commerce <-> Business is quite strong, as is Health Sciences <-> Healthcare/Medical, but many of the other areas become pretty dispersed.

Charles Chamberlayne on 04/18/2018

It would be interesting to see which fields graduates enter immediately, or soon after graduation followed by a chart showing how many of those graduates change to a different career field after 10 to 15 years.

Robert on 04/18/2018

I like this graphic.  The logic should be applied to how majors help the local economy and/or Virginia economy to show UVA’s impact across the Commonwealth…  Just a thought.

Thomas Armstrong on 04/18/2018

Excellent piece and it offers insight that is too often “lost” in the basic career services office which tends to think that there is a direct connection between a major and a job.  It is the skill set of the major (and the person) that ultimately contributes to success.

Peter Alamilla D'05 on 04/18/2018

This is a sweet graphic.  It must have taken a lot of time to compile the data.

Ellen Klemm Feeney, BA 1983 on 01/04/2018

Very interesting graphic.  This will help my daughter, who is applying to UVA and considering majors, see that a major need not pigeon hole her into one professional area.  It can actually open doors where she might not expect.  Thank you!

C. Rudy Rash, SED '78, GARC '81 on 08/18/2016

One of the most confusing graphics I have ever seen.  It looks like several colored inks spilled into a bowl of water.  Do the tapering of the color bans indicate dropping out among the number of majors transitioning to an eventual career?  Likewise, do breaks in the color bans indicate that the number of majors making a transition to their eventual career stopped at a certain level.  A more important question might have been, “why do these transitions occur after a significant investment in a particular academic major?”.

Ron Furgerson on 08/17/2016

This is fascinating to me.  I do wish there could be a finer breakout of the professions, e.g., the type of government services, since there is such a great variety within any one field.

Elizabeth A Trought PhD on 08/17/2016

Interesting display of relationship between majors and careers.  I am asked all the time about how majors relate to careers.  I must admit I do not necessarily agree with this but still interesting. I know so many people who started with Health care majors who ended up in business??