What’s your major?
Alberta postsecondary students by field of study
By Rob Roach, ATB Economics 23 November 2023 2 min read
According to new data on postsecondary enrolments from Statistics Canada, there were almost 204,000 students studying at public colleges and universities in Alberta in 2021/22.* This works out to about 9% of total enrolments in Canada.
When it comes to what these students are taking, business, management and public administration was the most popular category at 18% of all enrolments in Alberta.
The second most popular stream was health and related fields at 16% of the total followed closely by social and behavioural sciences and law at 14%.
While the three most popular categories involve science, technology and math to varying degrees, those who stress the importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) from an educational and economic perspective would like to see more enrolments in architecture and engineering (10%), physical and life sciences (7%), and mathematics, computer and information sciences (5%).
They would also like to see more women in these fields. As of 2021/22, women accounted for just 26% of enrolments in math, computers and IT and 24% of architecture and engineering students. They do, however, outnumber men in the physical and life sciences at 58% of the enrolments in this category.
None of this is to say that one field of study is “better” than another as they are all important, impart a wide range of valuable skills, and may be the best fit for individual students. With that said, given the looming shortage of STEM workers linked to rapid technological change, a greater tilt toward fields of study that stress STEM skills would likely be beneficial for both students and the economy.
*Enrolments are based on students enrolled in the postsecondary institutions at the time of the fall snapshot date, that is, a single date chosen by the institution which falls from September 30th to December 1st. Therefore students who are not enrolled during this time period are excluded and enrolment totals do not represent a full academic year. This has a greater impact on colleges as they have a continuous intake of students and shorter programs. It should also be noted, enrolments are based on program counts and not student counts. If a student is enrolled in more than one program as of the snapshot date, then all of their programs are included in the count.
Answer to the previous trivia question: At 139 m, Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey is the world’s tallest roller coaster.
Today’s trivia question: What percentage of total enrolments at Alberta’s public colleges and universities were women as of 2021/22?