Degree Year


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts




Civil engineering, Major choice, University of Waterloo, General engineering, Undergraduate, Job market


The problem: students in General Engineering at the University of Waterloo are not choosing as often as before to enter Civil Engineering. Increasing numbers of students are choosing Mechanical or Electrical Engineering, creating a large imbalance in the three class sizes. There is tremendous concern about whether this is a long or short run trend, why this imbalance exists, and about what, if anything, should and can be done to correct this imbalance. In this paper, I will construct a logit model of student choice and apply directly to those students who have been in General Engineering at the University of Waterloo. I will attempt to discover the answer to the question- Why are students no longer choosing as frequently to enter Civil Engineering?

This paper is unique in that it attempts to build a relatively sophisticated model of undergraduate choice of major and to test it empirically. Very few studies have focused on the choice of major (or department) even briefly. Choice of major is important topic because it helps to determine the future distribution of high level skills among labor; it certainly ought not to be neglected. Those studies which have looked at choice of department, have given the subject cursory glances at best. The studies have not attempted to include factors unique to the student (e.g. aptitude, interests), nor have they looked at non-salary market characteristics such as numbers of jobs. We shall find that these factors are the most important ones in explaining choice of department and should be considered. We shall find that the large fluctuations in proportions of students entering each department are caused primarily by the cyclical fluctuations in the job markets.

Included in

Economics Commons