Your college routine isn’t just about grabbing your morning coffee — it’s a well-thought plan to avoid eye contact with your friends, who are bright and cheery.
As they eagerly wait and chat for classes to start, you’ll likely slip back to your desk unnoticed.
While interaction is undoubtedly part and parcel of life at university, the best degrees for introverts exist. Better still, they make full use of your unique strengths.
After all, 56.8% of the world’s population are introverts, according to a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) global sample.
MBTI is one of the world’s most used psychological instruments. Developed by Isabel Myers and her mother, Katherine Briggs (based on their work with Carl Jung’s theory of personality types), this indicator is a self-report inventory designed to identify a person’s personality type, strengths, and preferences.
But before we move to the best degrees for introverts, we need to know whether we are one.
The world is said to be made of 40% extroverts, 40% introverts and 20% ambiverts (people who straddle both personalities).
How do you know which group you fall into?
4 traits of an introverted learner: Lessons from a neuroscientist
Introverts are more than those who appear to be quiet.
Friederike Fabritius, MS, a neuroscientist and trailblazer in the field of neuro leadership, shared with CNBC four traits that set introverts apart:
- Thinking more: Grey matter, which exists in the outermost layer of the brain, plays a significant role in mental functions, memory, emotions and movement. One Harvard study found that introverts have thicker grey matter compared to extroverts. They also show more activity in the frontal lobes, where analysis and rational thought occur.
- Focusing longer: Teachers thought Albert Einstein — a known introvert — seemed lost in his thoughts. The most influential physicist of the 20th century reportedly said: “It’s that I stay with problems longer.”
- Stronger moral compass: Introverts can stand their ground, even if it’s not popular. Less swayed by external events, they let their inner moral compass guide them. One 2013 study on social conformity proves this true, showing extroverts are likelier to follow the majority opinion, even if it’s wrong.
- Have special gifts: On average, introverts and extroverts are said to possess the same amount of intellect — but statistics show that around 70% of gifted people are introverts. To be considered “gifted,” one must show above-average intelligence or a superior talent in a particular area, such as music, art or math.
They say do something you love and you’ll never work a day. That’s true for the careers that the best degrees for introverts prepare you for.
They encourage and sharpen these four traits, letting you truly be yourself.
Best degrees for introverts: 10 highest-paying, most fulfilling courses where you can be selectively social
1. Veterinary Medicine
Since introverts often excel in quieter and more intimate settings, veterinary practice can be an ideal field of study due to its focus on animals and one-on-one patient care.
It’s a great way for introverts to develop deep, meaningful connections with animals — it’s a win-win situation that lets you communicate effectively without requiring extensive social interactions.
What’s more, the veterinary profession offers opportunities for introverts to work independently or in small, close-knit teams.
Save for the odd conference once in a while, there are no giant halls to make a speech in or many work meetings to make presentations in a s a vet.
A degree in veterinary medicine can lead you to work in one of the following careers:
- Animal nutritionist
- Veterinary surgeon
- Environmental consultant
Accounting is one of those math-heavy majors that are perfect for those who enjoy doing detailed, analytical work on their own.
Most accounting students spend their time alone learning how to prepare tax documents, financial reports, or similar documents.
In a field that rewards meticulous analysis, data interpretation, and attention to detail, they are tailored to the traits of an introvert — giving them an easier time to succeed.
An accounting degree can lead you to work in one of the following careers:
- Budget Analyst
- Financial Analyst
3. Computer Science
Do you have the logical and technical skills to learn complex computer programmes and codes for multiple hours a day?
Then, consider studying computer science.
This field is known as the ideal programme for introverts due to its solitary and intellectually stimulating nature.
After all, introverts often excel in focused, independent work, which lies at the core of programming and software development, where a single misplaced semicolon could make the entire code fail.
A degree in this field can lead you to work as a:
- Data scientist
- UI/UX designer
- Web developer
- Software developer
4. Liberal arts
A liberal arts education requires countless hours of reading at home, in the library and pretty much anywhere else.
It best fits anyone who can withstand days in solitary exploration of complex ideas through reading and reflection.
Liberal arts colleges also often design their classes to be small — creating more comfortable and engaging learning environments for introverts, allowing for meaningful discussions and relationships with their peers.
A liberal arts education emphasises written communication too, enabling introverts to express their thoughts in their most effective medium.
Graduates of this degree will often find themselves working as a:
- Technical writer
- Human resources specialist
- Graphic designer
There are different types of engineering, ranging from petroleum engineering to environmental engineering.
None, however, is as popular as mechanical engineering due to how transferrable knowledge is within this field.
As engineering students progress through their academic year, their curriculum can vary widely, depending on the chosen major.
Regardless of the field of engineering, the qualities necessary for students to do well are similar.
Since this is a STEM field, it requires sharp analytical, precision and problem-solving skills — traits which are more likely found among introverts.
Most engineering graduates tend to work in the field they’ve graduated in. That said, here are some popular engineering careers:
- Mechanical engineer
- Electrical engineer
- Engineering consultant
- Civil engineer
Most chemistry majors and chemists in various industry settings often work independently in labs — focusing and concentrating are critical when dealing with all sorts of chemicals.
Those sharing the same lab reportedly tend to leave one another alone too.
This makes for a conducive environment for deep analytical thinking and complex problem-solving to take place — which are crucial for any chemist to succeed.
This degree can open up opportunities for you to work as a:
- process chemist.
- chemical engineer.
- environmental scientist.
Listening, problem-solving, analytical thinking, patience — these are some skills psychologists need to have to become effective counsellors and psychotherapists.
Since these qualities are often found among introverts, it’s no wonder that psychology makes for an excellent major for those who are introverted.
What’s more, a psychology degree offers a range of career options that allow introverts to work on their own, conduct research, and provide one-on-one counseling (or, at most, to a couple or a family), thereby catering to their preference for smaller, quieter environments.
Of course, your career options aren’t just limited to being a psychologist upon graduating. Other career options include:
- Educational psychologist
- Human resource manager
8. Public Policy
If you think all public policy students have to become members of parliament or Congressmen and Congresswomen, think again.
Public policy is all about crafting and understanding the laws that govern everyday life, including how they affect people.
Knowing the right laws and regulations to put in place can be a delicate act of balancing conflicting interests, which requires a great deal of analytical skills and attention to detail.
It also takes a big team. You don’t need to be an MP or a politician to use your public policy skills. Instead, you can be the people behind the scenes in one of the following roles:
- Community relations coordinator
- Policy researcher
- Market researcher
- Political analyst
It’s true that architects have to have meetings with clients, other architects, and the rest of the team, especially if they are involved in a large project.
Most of the time, however, they work alone. Whether it’s developing reports and drawings at their office desks, driving to sites, or meeting clients, it’s likely for architects to spend hours and days by themselves.
After all, sketching schematics for a building plan requires grit, focus, and creative thinking — there can’t be distractions when one is tasked with developing designs to tackle modern engineering problems.
Being able to listen and empathise with clients — another special strength of introverts — is also a handy skill to have as an architect since you’ll be able to discover the exact problem they’re facing.
While most architecture graduates tend to work in the field, this degree can open up careers in other areas, such as:
- Interior and spatial designer
- Town designer
10. Creative writing
Last but not least, writing is one of the best degrees for introverts as it lets them focus on their favourite mode of expression.
Most writers either have an associate degree in English or a bachelor’s degree in English with an emphasis on writing or creative writing, while others may choose a journalism degree.
Writing is often a solitary endeavour, allowing introverts to work independently, free from the constant need for social interaction that may drain their energy.
Many forms of writing, such as journalism or non-fiction, require research and analysis, which can cater to an introvert’s natural inclination for in-depth investigation.
The career possibilities are also endless. Graduates in this field can work as:
- Freelance writers
- Technical writers