As the school year gets underway and millions of matriculating students consider which major to choose, we got to wondering: Which degrees are most romantically compatible with one another? Are an anthropologist and an art historian intrinsically more likely to get together than, say, and English major and a physicist?
Now, we have the data to answer that question. By studying Census records representing 76,472,310 married couples who both have bachelor’s degrees, we were able to see which pairs of degrees were more or less likely to end up together. Click to enter a major on Time's college major compatibility form to see which other fields of study are most compatible.
In almost every case, like attracted like. Music majors, for example, are 22 times more likely to marry a fellow musician than the population at large with bachelor’s degrees. The award for most compatible majors goes to Performing Arts majors, who are 38 times more likely to marry one another, followed by Law majors (33 times more likely) and the above-mentioned music majors. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Business majors–the second most popular major, after Education–are only 1.7 times more likely to walk down the aisle together, followed by Family Studies majors (also 1.7) and Engineers (1.8).
Generally speaking, degrees in related fields tended to be more compatible. Someone with a history degree is more compatible than average with an art historian, English major or someone with a degree in foreign languages. But there are some surprises. Computer scientists are more compatible with undergraduates who majored in law than they are with those who studied math or statistics, in defiance of the assumption that all math-and-science types stick together. Likewise, physicists are particularly compatible with language majors (which is great news for the field of natural language processing).
None of this means that degree-pairing is necessarily the cause of these couples’ compatibility. In all likelihood, people with the same or similar degrees are more likely to find themselves in the same vicinity. Still, if you’re, say, an architect looking for love, you might want to consider hanging around your local art gallery. After fellow architects, you’re most likely to marry someone with a degree in Fine Arts.
Data was gathered from IPUMS for the years 2009-2014. To produce these results, we calculated which majors a person with a given degree was more or less likely than average to marry. We did that by comparing the popularity of a given pairing of two degrees to the overall popularity of each of the degrees separately. The data is gender-agnostic; in all cases, couples are represented twice in the data, once with each partner as the spouse. We simplified the degree definitions from IPUMS slightly for legibility. The record of those modifications is available here.
In the interest of transparency, TIME Labs has open-sourced the complete code used to conduct this analysis, available on our GitHub page.
Source: IPUMS-USA, University of Minnesota, www.ipums.org.