A closer look at the most popular Kent State majors



James King

1. Exploratory – 1,163 students*

“Each year, approximately 700 first-year students choose Exploratory as a major,” said Eboni Pringle, interim director of undergraduate studies.

Exploratory is the most popular major at Kent, offering students a way to transition into university life.

“I wasn’t always an Exploratory major,” said freshman Aaron Evans. “I came in as an Intervention Specialist, which is a type of special education teacher. I quickly found out that it wasn’t for me.”

That’s when, Evans said, he decided to switch his major to Exploratory.

“Most students will chose a major by their sophomore year,” Pringle said.

Pringle added that students who choose Exploratory are interested in learning more about their choices and how those choices line up with their personal interests and skills.

“I want to mentor and coach kids outside the classroom,” Evans said, “so I’m looking at different options through the Exploratory program.”

Pringle said students will meet one-on-one with their academic advisor until they choose a major.

“The students also enroll in career exploration courses, which are a great opportunity for the students to solidify their decision about their major and future career,” she said.

Evans said his advisor points out helpful classes with enthusiastic professors.

“We also offer the EXCEL Living-Learning Community for Exploratory majors,” Pringle said. “Next year we’re excited because of partnership with Residence Services, we will be able to admit 240 students instead of 75. They’ll all live in Lake Hall.”

Evans said his experience with his advisor has been very beneficial so far.

“I’ve heard the department gets mixed reviews, but I feel I am in good hands with my advisor,” he said.

2. Nursing – 1,038 students*

Students come in as Pre-Nursing majors, and each semester, the Nursing program accepts about 100 students.

“We have a great program here,” said Laura Dzurec, dean of the Nursing College. “Just because a student is in the Pre-Nursing major does not guarantee a spot in the Nursing program.”

Dzurec said that nurses need to be extremely dedicated to the field.

“Our students want to help people,” Dzurec said, “but they have to be extremely skilled in order to do so.”

Freshman nursing major Renee Wise said she grew up around nursing because her stepmother was a nurse.

“I went to a vocational school during high school for a medical program, shadowed other nurses, and learn the basics. I knew for sure that’s what I wanted to do.”

Wise also received her State Tested Nursing Assistant license through her vocational school work.

“We’re a tough program,” Dzurec said, “it’s a heavy course load, and students must complete a lot of clinical hours.

Dzurec said for each hour of class work, a nursing student will have three hours of clinical labs.

“The department is helping me so much,” Wise said, “they are giving me knowledge about human anatomy and basic science that are necessary for nurses, but they also structure the program to be difficult, forcing you to become the best nurse you can be.”

Nursing students have to take a wide range of classes such as biology, pharmacology, nutrition, sociology, psychology, and chemistry.

“It’s a highly competitive program,” Dzurec said. “Out of everyone we chose to become nursing majors, the lowest GPA was a 3.6.”

Dzurec said the students have to deal with a lot of emotional burden that other majors don’t.

“Our students take care of real people,” Dzurec said. “There is distress, ethical concerns, and sadness in what we do. But there’s also a lot of joy.”

3. Psychology – 864 students*

“We offer a broad program, which I think students find appealing,” said Dr. Jocelyn Folk, undergraduate faculty advisor and associate professor of psychology. “There’s a great variety of what can be done with a degree in psychology.”

Folk’s specialty is understanding the cognitive processes underlying the ability to comprehend and produce written language.

“I’ve always found an interest in people and their behaviors,” said freshman psychology major Courtney Thaman. “One of my favorite hobbies is people-watching, and I want to find out why people act the way they do.”

Folk pointed to many areas that students can study, including child and adolescent, social, health, and cognitive psychology.

“Our students look at each area, and, when they get into the higher level classes, they’ll choose a concentration,” Folk said.

Students will typically choose a concentration around junior year.

“I want to find how much personality is based on genetics,” Thaman said. “How much is based on the environment? These are all really interesting questions that I hope to learn by studying psychology.”

Folk said that there are many opportunities for employment after graduation.

“Psychology is an extremely broad subject, and our program narrows that down to the concentrations,” Folk said. “Within each concentration, there are many different job opportunities.”

For example, students who focus on child and adolescent could become counselors or choose among a wide variety of other majors, she said.

“Of course, the department also helps students with finding internships and research opportunities,” she said.

Undergraduate students have the chance to study with graduate students for opportunities to look into what they want to study.

“The psychology department is offering me some opportunities to start research,” Thaman said. “It’s great that they offer this, and it lets me see if I want to continue with psychology.”

4. Fashion Merchandising – 692 students*

“There are a lot of disciplines supported within the Fashion Merchandising major,” said Dr. J.R. Campbell, Director of the School of Fashion. “It’s such a large industry tied to personal expression and identity, which I think people find appealing.”

Campbell mentioned that the Kent State School of Fashion is unique because it’s the only notable fashion school in the Midwest.

“I chose fashion merchandising because it’s such an intriguing industry,” said junior fashion merchandising major Lorie Gantz. “You have the opportunity to influence what people buy, how they shop, and what the next trend will be. Fashion is something that has always been around, and though it changes, it will be a key part of society.”

Campbell noted that fashion is an extremely fluid major where students have a wide variety of concentrations to choose from.

“A student can do so much with fashion,” Campbell said. “It allows for corporate work, merchandising, retail, small business, and many others.”

The department also takes an active role in the student’s success.

“The fashion school does a good job preparing you for graduation,” Gantz said. “The advisors are very helpful at giving you many options about studying abroad and we’re forced to broaden our horizons.”

The School of Fashion also has a remarkable amount of experts keeping the students connected.

“There’s an advisor board for the School of Fashion,” Campbell said, “it includes CEO’s of fashion companies, retail managers and merchants, which allows for continued connections with the industry that benefits the students.”

Campbell said the school offers many study abroad options including Florence, Hong Kong, Paris and New York City. Students in the fashion school are required to complete a professional internship and some common classes.

For example, Gantz said that students must complete a keystone seminar for their degree, which includes research about jobs, networking, and resume writing. Students also research cities other than New York or Los Angeles where they can find a potential job.

“I learn vital and useful information everyday in this class, and I’m very glad they offer it,” Gantz said.

Campbell mentioned they’ve had up to a 90 percent job placement for graduates in the past.

“Our students are highly competitive,” said Campbell, “while they probably won’t be able to find a job here in Ohio, there are plenty of opportunities in other locations.”

5. Business Management – 600 students*

“We offer students a well rounded background for the business world,” said Felix Offodile, the academic department chairperson for the College of Business Administration.

Offodile said the first two semesters will expose students to a wide variety of business practices such as accounting, marketing, economics and computer information.

“We feel students do come to Kent State to study Business Management,” Offodile said.

Offodile said students do not typically move out of Business Administration but rather move within the college itself.

“I’m a Business Management major because I’m following my family’s footsteps,” said freshmen Business Management major Anthony Parnell. “My mother is a manager for a company and my dad studied business management at Lakeland Community College.”

The College of Business Administration is starting to expand its reach to other colleges.

“We also started to offer many minors in the college,” Offodile said, “and we find many students from other colleges such as Nursing, Fashion and Architecture are taking these minors to make themselves more marketable and well-rounded.”

The department also offers many internships to its students.

“The department is helping me a lot,” Parnell said, “I’ve gotten offered internships already, which is really great.”

Offodile said business is an important component to a well-rounded higher education.

“Business drives our world,” Offodile said. “While most students don’t know extensively about business, they find having a grasp of the basics is extremely helpful in their respective fields.

* Data is from the Research, Planning and Institutional Effectiveness. Data provided by Wayne Schneider, director of RPIE.

Contact James King at [email protected].