Watch CBSN Live

Business majors: College's worst slackers?

COMMENTARY. Ever wonder why business is the most popular college major in the United States?

Maybe it's because business majors have the most fun.

Plenty of research has suggested that business majors are the slackers of the higher-ed world and a national study released today certainly confirms that they aren't trying as hard as other students.

That's the conclusion that you can draw after reading the annual report of the National Survey of Student Engagement, which explores the habits and experiences of students as it attempts to measure what academic practices are working on the nation's college campuses. Students from 683 American and 68 Canadian schools participated in this year's survey, which is commonly referred to as Nessie.

Business majors, according to the survey, studied the least among college students. The average business student studied just 14 hours a week. In contrast, engineering students, the hardest workers on college campuses, studied 19 hours a week.

Weekly time spent studying by major

  • Business -- 14 hours
  • Social sciences -- 14 hours
  • Education -- 15 hours
  • Arts & humanities -- 17 hours
  • Biological sciences -- 17 hours
  • Physical sciences -- 18 hours
  • Engineering -- 19 hours

Social science majors, which includes such disciplines as psychology, sociology and political science, also studied an average of just 14 hours a week, but a greater percentage of social science students (23%) studied more than 20 hours a week.

Only 19% of seniors pursuing a business degree studied more than 20 hours a week. In comparison, 42% of engineering majors and 36% of majors in physical science -- such as physics and chemistry -- studied more than 20 hours a week.

Percentage of seniors who spent more than 20 hours a week studying

  • Business -- 19%
  • Social sciences -- 23%
  • Education -- 26%
  • Arts & humanities -- 31%
  • Biological sciences -- 34%
  • Physical sciences -- 36%
  • Engineering -- 42%

Higher-ed slackers

Why are business majors the slackers of higher education?

I'd suggest because they can get away with it. Business is an easy major that requires little meaningful writing and there's a lot of group work.

No wonder that more than one out of four college students graduates with a bachelor's degree in business.

More on MoneyWatch: