Top Majors: Business & Nursing Hold the Line

blue bars overlay photo of Gonzaga campus

February 04, 2021
Rachel Robson ('20)

Every year since 2000, the majors with the highest numbers of undergraduates are in the School of Business Administration. The school with the second-highest combined undergrad majors is the School of Nursing and Human Physiology. Let's take a closer look.

Getting Down to Business

Business has been the most popular undergraduate major in the U.S. since 1980, with the number of degrees rising nearly every year (National Center for Education Statistics). A growing economy, globalization and increasing usage of data and market research drive an upward trend in employment opportunities throughout business fields.

Focus areas for Gonzaga students are finance, marketing, human resource management, economics, accounting, international business, management information systems, entrepreneurship and supply chain management.

blue bars lie in graph style over photo of School of Business 

But why Gonzaga?

Ken Anderson, dean of the School of Business Administration, believes students pursue business at Gonzaga because of graduates’ success with job placements and test results, and the school’s values and vision.

The class of 2019 had a 96.7% success rate, meaning grads are either employed, continuing education, volunteering, in the military or not seeking employment, according to Gonzaga’s Career and Professional Development office, which surveys and tracks graduates for a First Destination Survey Report.

“When I was a senior in high school, I knew the Gonzaga School of Business had a high job placement rate out of college, which was important when I picked a university and a major.”
Hannah van Hollebeke (’22)

Graduates of Gonzaga’s accounting program enjoy especially high success. pass rates. With an 83.2% pass rate for first-time certified public accounting test-takers across all sections of the exam, Gonzaga ranks far above the national average of 57.5%. 

“We have excellent students, staff and faculty. We are committed to our vision and values and to the welfare of our students,” says Anderson. “We are within a great liberal arts institution and all those things, combined with our Jesuit tradition and our relatively small size, make us a fantastic choice for business education.”

Careers in Caring

Nationwide, the fastest growing undergraduate majors are in the health industry. Since 2005, the number of students who majored in health fields such as nursing increased 168% (National Center for Education Statistics). What has sparked this nationwide trend?

In the U.S. and globally, there is a shortage of nurses. Another factor for the high number of nursing majors could be a new requisite for the profession: The Institute of Medicine strived to have 80% of RNs obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or higher by 2020. As of 2019, the rate is only 56%, creating a strong need for students to pursue nursing at a four-year institution. 

blue bars lay in graph form over photo of nursing grads 

What distinguishing factors attract students to Gonzaga specifically?

First, Gonzaga offers a direct admission nursing program, which means nursing majors are directly admitted into the program their freshman year. Some universities have students apply for nursing after completing their first year, creating unease since students begin college not knowing whether they will be accepted into the program the following year.

Other perks? Gonzaga’s nursing program allows students the flexibility to study abroad, add a minor and pursue other interests by having an eight- or nine-semester option.

Associate Dean for Undergraduate Nursing Joan Owens believes teaching the blend of Jesuit ideals and a focus on critical thinking skills creates a pull toward Gonzaga. In addition, the rigor of the program leads students to preparedness for the National Licensing Exam (NCLEX) and sets students up for success as first-time test-takers.

Our last several cohorts have a 100% pass rate, where the national average is around 88%,” says Owens.

“From an academic standpoint, I chose Gonzaga’s nursing program over other universities due to the wonderful reputation and direct-entry program. But compared to other programs, it was the ‘Gonzaga Way’ that fully pulled me in.”
Kate Inge (’23)

Gonzaga’s approach to admissions, teaching and social atmosphere allows aspiring nurses to learn what it takes to be successful and fill necessary positions in the health care profession. 

What about the College of Arts & Sciences?
and biology consistently top the list, with Spanish maintaining the No. 1 spot in minors.

See what options at Gonzaga fit your dreams and goals.


TOP MAJORS – Graduate Version

Nursing: As a general field, Nursing has held the top spot for the last several years.

Leadership: If combined, the MA-Organizational Leadership and MA-Communication and Leadership Studies would have top billing.

Education: In 2020, Sport and Athletic Administration surpassed the School Administration degree in popularity. For 2021, advanced studies in Clinical Mental Health Counseling takes the lead for the School of Education offerings.

Law: In the early 2000s, Law consistently had the highest enrollment among Gonzaga graduate programs.

Business: Gonzaga’s MBA holds steady through time, holding the middle spot among all graduate offerings.

Ready for a graduate degree? Check out Gonzaga's online programs here.