An old piece of wisdom in romance is that opposites attract. Perhaps it's true in some ways, but when it comes to college majors, we found more evidence that many Americans just want to date themselves

As part of the US Census, Americans are asked about their marital status, as well as their college major if they have an undergraduate degree. We analyzed US Census data and found that Americans marry people within their own major at an unusually high rate. Looking at the 50 most common college majors, over 10% of married partners that both have college degrees had the same major. This number is as high as 21% for certain majors. 

The data also shows that when it comes to love, people who are in an extreme gender minority in their field of study -- like male nurses and female engineers -- are the most likely to marry somebody in their major.


According to the 2012 American Community Survey, conducted by the US Census Bureau, approximately 28% of all married American couples over the age of 22 had both graduated from college.  It is important to note that the 2012 individual level Census data did not recognize same-sex marriage. From the 2013 Census onwards, which is not yet available, the Census will report on same-sex couples.

For the 50 most common majors, the table below shows the rate at which people chose to marry others in that field for two degree couples.

Source: American Community Survey 2012. Estimates are survey weighted and likely accurate within plus or minus 1%.

Theology and Religious Vocations majors sit at the very top of the list. This may be because of how influential religious beliefs can be on compatibility, and, for many, how tied they are to the institution of marriage. It is one of the few majors that may very directly correlate to certain beliefs or lifestyles. The high ranking of Music majors could be for similar reasons. 

The majors lowest on this list mostly appear there because they are heavily tilted towards one sex. For example, due to the paucity of men who study Family and Consumer Sciences, it’s tough for a heterosexual woman to find a match. But those few men in the field have a particularly good shot of finding love in their area of study. The same is true for other individuals who are the minority in a major that tilts heavily towards one sex.

The next list looks at just the chances of only women marrying someone of the same major. We find that General Engineering jumps from 14 on the previous list -- which included men, who make up the bulk of most General Engineering programs -- all the way up to number 1.

Source: American Community Survey 2012. Estimates are survey weighted and likely accurate within plus or minus 2%.

The same is true for men in female-dominated disciplines like Nursing and Elementary Education.  Not only is there major demand for male teachers in elementary schools, but there also seems to be major demand in the marriage market.

Source: American Community Survey 2012. Estimates are survey weighted and likely accurate within plus or minus 2%.


Whether it is because of shared interests or mere convenience, Americans who have obtained college degrees are uncommonly likely to marry individuals with their same major. This is particularly true for those individuals who choose a field of study in which they are the minority sex. College students beware, your choice of major may have romantic consequences.

This post was written by Dan Kopf; follow him on Twitter hereTo get occasional notifications when we write blog posts, please sign up for our email list.

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