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Nursing, Engineering Top Enrolled Majors, Specialized Ed at Bottom

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Since 2010, 2,099 students have enrolled in either nursing, mechanical engineering or human
development and family science at NDSU.

One hundred majors are available for North Dakota State students. How many students enrolled in a major varies, from 864 to one.

Nursing, mechanical engineering and human development and family science, respectively, are the most popular enrolled majors over the last five years at NDSU, the registrar’s office found. Meanwhile, physics education, behavioral statistics and earth science education area the least enrolled majors in the same time span.

Since 2010, 864 students have enrolled in nursing, 724 in mechanical engineering and 511 in HDFS, while three enrolled in earth science ed, two in behavioral statistics and one in physics education.

‘Does not surprise me’ 

Alan Kallmeyer understands how popular mechanical engineering can be.

The mechanical engineering department chair said the field is flexible with good prospects.

“It does not surprise me,” he said. “When I look at national trends, mechanical engineering is on the rise.”

NDSU’s trends in mechanical engineering “match very closely” with national numbers, Kallmeyer added.

“Mechanicals can go into almost any field and work and find a job,” he said. “Being a much more general degree I think is what really attracts a lot of students to our programs.”

Kallmeyer said regional firms “keep telling us we need more” mechanical engineers, a similar reason for how Kallmeyer said he views the popularity of nursing at NDSU.

“Nursing doesn’t surprise me at all because again, there’s a big need for nurses,” he said. “I think students tend to go where they know there’s good job prospects.”

Junior Alexandra Nissen, a nursing major, said anyone passionate about nursing should enroll in NDSU’s program, though it is “extremely competitive.”

The nursing program accepts “only about 50 students” per semester, she added.

“NDSU nursing students are well prepared, professional and are confident in their skills compared to other (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) programs,” she said.

Joel Hekter, HDFS interim department head, said students choose HDFS for its variety of career opportunities. 

“These students choose HDFS because we prepare them for a wide variety of careers working with children, families, or elderly people,” he said. “Other students who have chosen to be elementary teachers or social workers like our dual degree options with Valley City State and Minot State that allow them to pair our HDFS degree with professional credentials for employment, all in four years and all on our campus.

“Several students also choose HDFS as preparation for graduate school in counseling or couple and family therapy.”

Hekter also said he was “not really” surprised by HDFS ranking as the third most enrolled NDSU major and added the major has relevance to “everyone’s daily life.”

“Also, the demand for workers in the human services will always be there and it increases with population growth,” he added.

Not unimportant  

Earth science education and physic education had four students enrolled in the majors since 2010 at NDSU.

To William Martin, department of education head, “it is not surprising,” as he said the department has been aware of the low enrollment for some time.

“Since physics and earth science are typically only offered for one year of schooling, there are fewer teaching positions for individuals with just that major,” he said. 

But that’s not to say specialized education majors are not important, he added. 

“Other teaching majors require course work in physics and earth science — particularly science education majors who want to have the credential to teach physics or earth science along with other content areas,” Martin said. “They are not required to have the full major, but must complete significant course work in those areas to be eligible to teach the classes in high school.”

He added “only the largest schools” have positions for such teachers as smaller schools need teachers who can instruct multiple courses, such as mathematics.

“Both are subjects taught in most schools so there is a need for qualified teachers, but that includes teachers who don’t have a major in the subject, just the required level of course work,” Martin said. “It also is true that the demand for qualified science (and math) teachers generally exceeds the supply in the state and nation.”

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