The College Majors With The Largest Vocabularies

We analyzed 200,000 resumes to determine the majors with the largest vocabularies.

Chris Kolmarby Chris KolmarGuides - 2 years ago


Coming out of college as an economics major, one of my first jobs was as an analyst in a healthcare consulting firm. I was excited to get started looking for fraudsters that were charging for more procedures in a day than were physically possible.

I wasn’t expecting to be hit with an entirely new language in the process. But that’s what happens when you enter a new field — you have to pick up on the lingo.

In my particular case, I received a crash course in healthcare jargon. Everyone talked about “benes” (beneficiaries), their “codes” (Medicare and Medicaid treatment codes), and their “outcomes” (How patients fared based on the treatment received).

From there, I moved into real estate and online marketing with two new sets of languages to learn. Throw in some coding over the past couple of years and my resume is now filled with acronyms and words like AVM, closing costs, SEO, SqL, UX, and A/B Testing that I’d never heard of in college.

I’ve only been out of school for seven years and I’ve learned what’s probably the equivalent of another language.

All this got me thinking — which majors in college can expect to learn the biggest vocabulary during their career?

And, as luck would have it, we just finished processing over 2 million resumes with this exact data.
vocabulary-by-major

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10 Majors With The Largest Vocabulary Size

Major Rank Unique Word Count
Physics 1 39,958
Engineering/Industrial Management 2 39,274
Aerospace, Aeronautical And Astronautical Engineering 3 38,683
Chemical Engineering 4 37,284
Computer Engineering 5 36,554
Chemistry 6 36,456
Mathematics And Computer Science 7 36,301
Civil Engineering 8 36,050
Electrical/Electronic/Communications Eng Technology/Technician 9 35,920
Project Management 10 35,769

The Major With The Biggest Vocabulary – #1 – Physics

physics-words

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I guess the language section of the SATs might matter a bit more for Physics majors than you’ve been conditioned to believe.

My lawyer dad always says something can’t be more unique than something else, but I’ll make an exception for physics. Of the almost 40,000 unique words found on physics majors’ resumes, 14.5% of them were not found in any other major’s resumes. And while some of the more popular unique words reference famous physicists, companies, or labs, we are also left with gems like:

  • Toroidal
  • Multiwavelength
  • Polytrope
  • Refractivity

For those playing at home, here’s a quick excerpt from Wikipedia on Polytrope (not to be confused with polytope, obviously):
In astrophysics, a polytrope refers to a solution of the Lane–Emden equation in which the pressure depends upon the density in the form P = K \rho^{(n+1)/n}

After having fun looking into words unique to physics, it dawned on me that many of the majors with the biggest vocabularies are STEM majors. That was in stark contrast to what I expected going in — I figured the psycho-babble of Psychology would end up in the number of one spot.

Example Physics Resume

The Most Popular Major – #41 – Psychology

psychology-major

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Apparently psycho-babble has a relatively limited scope of vocabulary as Psychology only ranks 41 out of the top 100 majors. Only about 7% of the words found on psychology major’s resume are unique to their careers.

What Psychology does show is how standard words are across all industries — for the most part there’s at least another person coming from some other major with a career experience similar to yours. Psychology embodies this finding because so many psychology majors go into fields that have (relatively) little to do with Psychology. You can be anything from a researcher to a real estate agent to a marketing manager.

And the statistics play that out as Psychology has the second lowest percent of words unique to the major, only the synergizers in “Business administration and management” have a more boring set of language.

Example Psychology Resume

Analyzing A Whole Lotta’ Resumes — The Data And Methodology

The core of the Job Graph on Zippia applies machine learning algorithms to a dataset of over 2 million resumes, and counting, to determine common career paths for people with similar backgrounds. In my case, I wasn’t so much interested in what people do in their careers; I wanted to see the pure size of the vocabulary people with the same major learn over the course of their career.

To do that, I performed a token analysis on the resumes of people with the 100 most popular majors focusing on the job descriptions and responsibilities section. Since some majors within the top 100 are wildly more popular than others (Psychology is 100x more popular than “Sales and Marketing Operations/Distribution”), I only considered a random sample of 2,000 resumes for each major.

I removed all punctuation from the dataset and each word is counted once. As a quick example, can’t, cannot, and can not would be four unique words.

This process is certain to count typos as unique words, the data still provides a relative sense of which majors essentially become Shakespeare over the course of their career. Let’s dive into some of the interesting cases in the data.

100 Most Popular Majors Ranked By Vocabulary Size

Major Rank Unique Word Count
Physics 1 39,958
Engineering/Industrial Management 2 39,274
Aerospace, Aeronautical And Astronautical Engineering 3 38,683
Chemical Engineering 4 37,284
Computer Engineering 5 36,554
Chemistry 6 36,456
Mathematics And Computer Science 7 36,301
Civil Engineering 8 36,050
Electrical/Electronic/Communications Eng Technology/Technician 9 35,920
Project Management 10 35,769
Biology/Biological Sciences 11 35,617
Bioengineering And Biomedical Engineering 12 35,571
Liberal Arts And Sciences/Liberal Studies 13 34,524
Engineering Technology 14 34,329
Electrical And Electronics Engineering 15 34,238
Computational Science 16 33,966
Industrial Engineering 17 33,914
Mechanical Engineering/Mechanical Technology/Technician 18 33,897
Educational, Instructional, And Curriculum Supervision 19 33,614
Urban Education And Leadership 20 33,602
Industrial Electronics Technology/Technician 21 33,508
Computer Software Engineering 22 33,169
Information Technology Project Management 23 32,825
Management Information Systems And Services 24 32,640
Communication 25 32,615
Theology/Theological Studies 26 32,539
Special Education And Teaching 27 32,439
Organizational Leadership 28 32,408
Art/Art Studies 29 32,384
International Business, Trade, And Tax Law 30 32,346
Environmental Science 31 32,329
Economics 32 32,264
Information Science/Studies 33 32,192
Public Administration 34 32,189
Design And Visual Communications 35 32,083
Logistics, Materials, And Supply Chain Management 36 31,993
Computer Programming, Specific Applications 37 31,985
Nonprofit/Public/Organizational Management 38 31,916
Public Health 39 31,901
Cad/Cadd Drafting And/Or Design Technology/Technician 40 31,865
Psychology 41 31,803
Information Resources Management 42 31,753
Journalism 43 31,644
Political Science And Government 43 31,644
Environmental Design/Architecture 45 31,531
Health/Health Care Administration/Management 46 31,348
Investments And Securities 47 31,303
English/Language Arts Teacher Education 48 31,301
Theology And Religious Vocations 49 31,093
Sales And Marketing Operations/Marketing And Dist Teacher Educ 50 30,826
Social Sciences 51 30,587
Pharmacy 52 30,561
Banking, Corporate, Finance, And Securities Law 53 30,486
Marketing/Marketing Management 54 30,439
Business Administration And Management 55 30,425
Computer And Information Systems Security/Information Assurance 56 30,240
Accounting And Business/Management 57 30,114
Social Work 58 29,985
Health And Physical Education/Fitness 59 29,916
Criminal Justice/Safety Studies 60 29,605
Computer Systems Networking And Telecommunications 61 29,580
Real Estate 62 29,570
Kinesiology And Exercise Science 63 29,264
Information Technology 64 29,151
Construction Management 65 29,006
Human Resources Management/Personnel Administration 66 28,986
Liberal Arts And Sciences Studies And Humanities 67 28,977
Health Information/Medical Records Administration/Administrator 68 28,876
Speech Communication And Rhetoric 69 28,626
Clinical Laboratory Science/Medical Technology/Technologist 70 28,614
Photography 71 28,472
Fine/Studio Arts 72 28,426
General Studies 73 28,318
Physical Therapy/Therapist 74 27,994
Science Teacher Education/General Science Teacher Education 75 27,943
Counselor Education/School Counseling And Guidance Services 76 27,677
Auditing 77 27,652
Medical/Health Management And Clinical Assistant/Specialist 78 27,420
Mass Communication/Media Studies 79 27,174
Human Services 80 26,928
Accounting And Computer Science 81 26,918
Corrections And Criminal Justice 82 26,832
Automotive Engineering Technology/Technician 82 26,832
Elementary Education And Teaching 84 26,672
Legal Assistant/Paralegal 85 26,535
Graphic Design 86 26,300
Public Relations, Advertising And Applied Communication 87 25,304
Adult Health Nurse/Nursing 88 25,231
Health/Medical Preparatory Programs 89 25,110
Culinary Arts/Chef Training 90 24,698
Communication Disorders Sciences And Services 91 23,493
Welding Technology/Welder 92 23,312
Interior Design 93 23,173
Early Childhood Education And Teaching 94 22,998
Allied Health And Medical Assisting Services 95 22,451
Practical Nursing, Vocational Nursing And Nursing Assistants 96 22,340
Speech-Language Pathology/Pathologist 97 22,146
Cosmetology/Cosmetologist 98 21,393
Pharmacy Technician/Assistant 99 20,870
Radiologic Technology/Science Radiographer 100 20,495

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