Which Subjects Have the Happiest Students? | Top Universities

Which Subjects Have the Happiest Students?

By Chloe Lane

Updated April 22, 2021 Updated April 22, 2021
  • TheKnowledgeAcademy sent out a happiness survey to results 4,203 university students to find out which university faculty's students are the happiest. 
  • We will be counting down the subject areas with the happiest students, as well as revealing the top university in the world to study that subject according to the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021. 

Have you ever wondered which subject area has the happiest students? If you’re still undecided about which degree programme to study at university, you might be interested to discover which courses students are most satisfied with.  

TheKnowledgeAcademy's happiness survey was sent out to a random sample of 4,203 university students between the ages of 18-24 from UK universities with high levels of student satisfaction. The survey asked these students how happy they are on a day-to-day basis on a scale of one to five. 

We will be counting down the subject areas with the happiest students according to the findings of TheKnowledgeAcademy's happiness survey, as well as revealing the top university in the world to study that subject according to the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021

Will your degree be featured in the top 10 happiest subject areas? Read on to find out! 

10. Modern Languages 

Modern languages student

Tenth in our list of the happiest university subject areas is modern languages, with a score of 2.58 out of 5.  

If you’re looking to study modern languages, the best school to do it is either Harvard University in the US or Oxford University in the UK, both of which rank in joint first position globally in the QS World University Rankings by Subject: Modern Languages. 

View the best schools to study modern languages here.  

9. Arts and design 

Arts and design student

In ninth place is arts and design, with an average happiness score of 2.63 out of five. Arts and design courses can vary from essay-based programmes such as history of art, to practical programmes such as textile design. Although the structure of your degree will depend on the exact programme you study, most arts and design courses require you to build a portfolio of work which may then be showcased to the public. 

The best university in the world for arts and design is the UK’s Royal College of Art in London, according to the QS World University Rankings by Subject.  

View the best schools to study art and design here.  

8. Media and communication 

Media and communications

In eighth place of the subjects with the happiest students is media and communications, with a score of 2.87 out of five. Diverse and dynamic, media and communications degrees cover everything from radio to podcasts, social media to blogs and cinema to television. 

The best university to study a degree in media and communication is the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands.  

View the best schools to study media and communications here.  

7. Accountingfinance and business 

accounting student

Accounting, finance and business rank seventh in the countdown of the subjects with the happiest students. Graduates typically earn a high salary and have a wide variety of career options available to them, ranging from accountants to investment bankers to management positions.  

The best school to study accounting, finance and business in 2021 is Harvard University, according to the recently released QS World University Rankings by Subject.  

View the best schools to study accounting and finance here and business here.  

6. Computing 

Computing student

With a student happiness score of 3.18, computing ranks in sixth place.  

Throughout your degree, you will gain a specialist knowledge of computer science theories, methods and practices and understand a range of programming languages, as well as the ability to understand complex numerical data. The best university in the world to study computing this year is Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US. 

View the best schools to study computer science here

5. Mathematics 

Maths student

Entering the top five now, we find another analytical degree: mathematics. Mathematics students rank their happiness as 3.22 out of five. Mathematics degrees usually involve a combination of pure mathematics (theory and abstract) and applied mathematics (practical applications to problems). MIT is the highest ranked school in the world to study mathematics out of the 507 universities featured in the subject rankings this year. 

A degree in mathematics gives access to a range of industries, with maths graduates occupying roles such as accountant, actuary, statistician, technician, economist or market researcher. Discover more about careers with a maths degree here.  

View the best schools to study mathematics here.  

4. Natural Sciences  

natural sciences student

Fourth in the countdown of the subjects with the happiest students is natural sciences with an average happiness score of 3.62 out of five. Natural science degrees focus on understanding the natural world from a variety of perspectives including chemical, physical, mathematical, environmental and geological.  

In total there are 501 ranked universities offering natural science degrees. Once again, MIT hosts the top programme for this subject area. View the full QS World University Rankings by Subject: Natural Sciences.  

3. Engineering 

engineering student

In the top three happiest subject areas to study at university is engineering with a score of 3.87 out of five. Engineering degrees are highly valued by graduate employers around the world and of all the subject areas surveyed engineering students are most optimistic about their future according to TheKnowledgeAcademy.  

There are many different types of engineering: chemicalcivilelectricalmechanicalaeronautical and environmental. In total, there are 520 ranked engineering schools around the world, including the best performing engineering school, MIT.  

View the best schools to study engineering here.  

2. Sport and exercise science 


Sports and exercise science students are the second happiest students according to TheKnowledgeAcademy’s survey. In the happiness survey these students rank their happiness as   4.07 out of five on average. In general, sport and exercise science students felt they have plenty of time to do their hobbies. 

The UK’s Loughborough University is the best university in the world to study sports related subjects of the 120 featured in the World University Rankings by Subject this year.  

View the best schools to study sports and exercise science here


 humanities student

The subject area with the happiest students is humanities, with a score of 4.23 out of five. Humanities degrees encompass history, classics, English literature and philosophy, amongst others. Humanities degrees help students gain a wealth of transferrable skills which can be applied to almost any graduate role.  

Of the 508 schools featured in the arts and humanities subject rankings, the UK’s University of Oxford is the best performing.  

View the best schools to study the humanities here

Main image: Brooke Cagle on Unsplash 

This article was originally published in April 2021 .

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