December 2021

IZA DP No. 14964: College Majors and Skills: Evidence from the Universe of Online Job Ads

published in: Labour Economics, 2023, 85, 1-17

We document the skill content of college majors as perceived by employers and expressed in the near universe of U.S. online job ads. Social and organizational skills are general in that they are sought by employers of almost all college majors, whereas other skills are more specialized. In turn, general majors––Business and General Engineering––have skill profiles similar to all majors; Nursing and Education are specialized. These cross-major differences in skill profiles explain considerable wage variation, with little role for within-major differences in skills across areas. College majors can thus be reasonably conceptualized as portable bundles of skills.