5. Cybersecurity: Large companies and governments are moving aggressively to protect their computer systems. Between 2014 and 2016, the Pentagon plans to add more than 4,000 experts at its Cyber Command. Specialists in cybersecurity can also expect to find openings in health care, energy and at security services firms.
The National Security Agency is identifying centers of excellence in cyber operations, starting with Dakota State University, the Naval Postgraduate School, Northeastern University and the University of Tulsa.
In one essential course at DSU, "students learn to 'lift the hood' of the software program, see how it works, determine where it is vulnerable and then write code to exploit that vulnerability," says Josh Pauli, associate professor of cybersecurity.
[See photos of the hot college majors.]
6. Data science: The International Data Corp., a Massachusetts-based technology market research firm, says the global volume of computerized data is doubling every two years. This will help create some 4.4 million jobs worldwide by 2015, estimates Connecticut-based technology research firm Gartner Inc. Interested students should consider a major in data science or business analytics (No. 7 below).
The College of Charleston is one of the few institutions to offer an undergraduate degree in data science. By studying statistics, math and programming, graduates learn to help government agencies, consulting firms, scientific organizations and a variety of companies from e-commerce giants to big-box stores to develop strategy, understand customer behavior or predict market trends.
7. Business analytics: While closely related to data science, business analytics is primarily a business major, says Kenneth Gilbert, head of the department of statistics, operations and management science at the University of Tennessee, which launched a degree program in 2010. Courses include computer software, math, statistics and communication skills.
Rutgers Business School introduced a business analytics and information technology major for undergrads in 2011. The University of Iowa offers a B.S. in business analytics and information systems, while Old Dominion University features a major in business administration/business analytics.
8. Petroleum engineering: New technology has opened up shale formations thought unproductive 10 years ago. A new crop of petroleum engineers will be needed to tap these reserves; half of the current supply is expected to retire in the next decade.
Grads, who can expect high starting salaries of more than $100,000 a year, will find employment in three areas, says Robert Chase, chair of the department of petroleum engineering and geology at Marietta College: as drilling engineers who supervise the effort to access oil or gas; as production engineers who design and install the equipment needed to produce it; and as reservoir engineers who analyze how much can be recovered.