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During the height of the Occupy Wall Street movement, the country was divided by percentages: 99% vs. 1%. Some American’s kept the debate to kitchen tables and closed doors, while others took to the streets to voice their opinion. There is no arguing that the 99% definitely garnered most of the media’s attention, but what about the 1%?

After an academic advisor from a Texas university wrote in to the New York Times questioning what the top 1% of earners studied while they were in college, the newspaper decided to investigate. Their findings ranged from the surprising to the expected. Can you guess what the top 1% of earners majored in?

Taken from the Census Bureau’s 2010 American Community Survey, these numbers show which undergraduate degrees the top earners held, how many were are in that major, the percentage that have made it into the top 1 percent and, finally, the percentage of the top 1 percent that represented those degrees.

Undergraduate DegreeTotal% Who Are 1 PercentersShare of All 1 Percenters
Health and Medical Preparatory Programs142,34511.8%0.9%
Economics1,237,8638.2%5.4%
Biochemical Sciences193,7697.2%0.7%
Zoology159,9356.9%0.6%
Biology1,864,6666.7%6.6%
International Relations146,7816.7%0.5%
Political Science and Government1,427,2246.2%4.7%
Physiology98,1816.0%0.3%
Art History and Criticism137,3575.9%0.4%
Chemistry780,7835.7%2.4%
Molecular Biology64,9515.6%0.2%
Area, Ethnic and Civilization Studies184,9065.2%0.5%
Finance1,071,8124.8%2.7%
History1,351,3684.7%3.3%
Business Economics108,1464.6%0.3%

Don’t Forget Accounting

One major that just narrowly missed our list was Accounting which holds 2,296,601 students (the highest amount)  and 3.9% in the top 1 percent. Accounting is an understandable contender in terms of majors, but what about things like Art History and Criticism?

This list just goes to show that not all of those in the top 1% are bankers and politicians (although they did place high on this list). To see the full list click here.

Will This Change Your Career Path

Whether you are thinking about college, or have a child thinking about college a big concern in money, the list offers food for thought. Everyone wants a stable career path, but the weakened economy and even weaker jobs market has inspired people to branch out and look for more fulfilling work.

As paychecks become less of a motivator, it begs the question of how the professional space will change in the future. Something tells me there are still going to be people striving to get into the 1% no matter how much blood, sweat and tears it takes.

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