Human Ecology


Be a people person's people person.


Human ecology…take a wild guess what you'll be studying. Yep, if you were looking for the study of extraterrestrials, you're in the wrong place.

And really, why wouldn't we want to study ourselves? We're a pretty interesting bunch. We've conquered the planet with our opposable thumbs and superior intellect, set up intricate cultures, built monuments visible from space, and perfected the fine art of the viral meme. You'll never be bored when you're around humans.

Confused, maybe. But not bored.

Human ecology is all about thinking critically—both in the abstract, general sense, but also specifically about humans. Obviously, all the critical thinking in the world won't help you understand the human mind. We're way too weird and complex for that. But if you get a degree in human ecology, you'll have a better understanding than most about how humans work.

That's right. You'll finally be able to sort-of understand our shenanigans. We're looking at you, Will Sasso.

So, that's the human part. What about the ecology? Well, that's where the science comes in. Yes, this degree involves science. Human ecology is an incredibly broad field—big enough to encompass both the humanities and science. Good thing you're so smart.

For the humanities, you'll be studying things like psychology, fashion, and family structures; for the science, you'll get to learn all about nutrition, exercise, food preparation, and medicine. Basically, you'll learn about all the things that people are involved with in some way or another.

At some schools, you can major in just human ecology, but most human ecology programs require students to pick a concentration since human ecology is so broad. So depending on what you concentrate in, this major will prepare you for your career field in various ways.

Like most college majors, human ecology will give you those sweet critical thinking skills that you need to survive in the real world. However, unlike most college majors, a human ecology degree can take you basically anywhere. You aren't even limited to humanities vs. science.

There are no limits to where this thing can take you, because you will have been trained to understand people. And people, dear Shmooper, are everywhere. There's no escape. Just give up now.

The flip side of all this is that you'll probably have to get a secondary degree in a more specific field. If you do want to go into something like medicine or diplomacy, just walking up to the person at the desk and saying, ''I'm a professional people person! Hire me!'' won't get you very far. Your post-grad options will usually involve more education, depending on what your concentration is.

A barista won't have to get a PhD in coffee (though that could be cool), but a doctor will have to go through med school. Whatever you choose, this major is a challenging and valuable experience that basically anybody can do.

Famous People who majored in Human Ecology

It's difficult to track down ''real-life'' famous people with this major because so many people are known for their secondary degrees in advanced dietary counseling or whatever. But that doesn't mean it isn't important. Pretty much any fictional character could very well have this major, because most people in movies or TV shows have to deal with other people. Like in Grey's Anatomy. We're pretty sure any of those characters could have done a human ecology major at some point.

Percentage of US students who major in Human Ecology:

0.21% (General Social Science)

Stats obtained from this source.