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Study abroad : Subject Guides

Top 5 undergraduate degrees for 2023

Discover the top 5 undergraduate degrees over five million international students have enquired about. We highlight the benefits, the job opportunities and salaries on offer.

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Do you know that you want to study abroad but are you still not sure what subject or degree to take?  We know it’s a big decision. Knowing what other international students have chosen can help you reach a decision that is right for you.

From January to December 2022, over five million international students searched the Hotcourses Abroad website for the top undergraduate subjects of their choice. Read on to discover those top five degrees, the subjects on offer and possible career opportunities upon graduating.


1 Engineering 

Studying for an undergraduate engineering degree tops the list of qualifications most searched for by international students. In addition, two engineering specialisations attract the most attention. These are aerospace engineering and mechanical engineering. 





Average salary per year

Find courses

Aerospace Engineering

Highly technical

Develop innovative, efficient, and practical design solutions for technology used in the aerospace industry and the military.

You could work on:

  • Satellites 
  • Rockets 
  • Propulsion systems 
  • Planes
  • Military hardware

GBP 36, 545

USD 101, 447

AUD 95,216


aerospace engineering 

Mechanical Engineering

Develop effective system and process solutions for mechanical systems.

Overlaps with many other engineering disciplines.

Requires a wide knowledge of engineering principles.

Subjects covered in degree could include:

  • Control systems 
  • Robotics 
  • Materials engineering 
  • Machine learning 
  • Sustainable energy
  • Solid mechanics 

GBP 36,191

USD 87,503

AUD 114, 069

mechanical engineering

*Indeed.com – correct at time of writing




Career opportunities for mechanical engineering graduates are good to excellent. With an employment rate of 96 per cent and a top ten ‘ jobs to have’ rating by the U.S. News & World Report, it’s not a surprise that it remains a popular choice. 


2 Accounting

If you have a love of numbers, an eye for detail and excellent analytical skills, then studying accounting could be perfect for you. Accountants are needed across many sectors, with skills that are in demand by employers. This is especially true for accountants with professional certification. 


Studying for a degree in accounting will take you between three and four years to complete. Some of the topics you’ll learn about include:

  • Statistics 
  • Corporate finance 
  • Investment banking 
  • Financial markets 
  • Tax law 
  • Risk management 
  • Data science
  • Data modelling 


Accounting is sometimes considered the ideal qualification for introverts. However, working as an accountant will still require great interpersonal and communication skills, plus critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. 


Once you have qualified, you can work as an accountant, but also in other professions or roles that include:

  • Economist 
  • Risk analyst 
  • Tax advisor 
  • Data analyst
  • Investment manager
  • Financial advisor 


3 Medicine 

Studying medicine is sometimes described as a calling in life rather than just a degree. It’s a qualification that takes time, dedication, and many hours of hard work. However, it also gives you a unique opportunity to have a positive impact on people’s lives. Studying for a degree in medicine abroad remains close to the top on many international student lists.

Studying for a medical degree will differ depending on the destination you choose. Remember that in Canada and the USA, it is only offered a part of graduate education, and you must have completed a related undergraduate qualification in subjects such as biology, chemistry, or life sciences first. However, it is possible to study towards a professional qualification in medicine at undergraduate level in the UKAustraliaIreland, and New Zealand


Medicine is a varied discipline with many medical specialisations available. This often requires additional study over and above an undergraduate degree. Some medical fields you could follow, include:

  • Paediatrics 
  • Emergency medicine 
  • Pathology 
  • Anaesthesiology 
  • Neurology 
  • Oncology


There are many benefits of becoming a doctor, from being able to help patients to having a dynamic and engaging career. If you qualify as a medical doctor, you will have dedicated between six and eight years of your life to the field, so it’s good to know that medical professionals have a high employment rate and excellent career opportunities.


Salaries will vary by country, specialisation, and experience. See table below for a general idea:

Average salary for a doctor


GBP 40,27 – 53,398


USD 174, 813


CAD 70,000


AUD 160, 875

*correct at time of writing


Discover the best medical schools in:



4 Business

A degree in business or business-related subjects is one of the best undergraduate degrees to choose as it gives you a great deal of flexibility. You could choose more general business degrees such as business studies, business management or business analytics, or you may choose a more specialised field such as:


Whichever area you decide to focus on, what you learn during your degree programme will be easily transferable and adaptable to any industry or position. You will develop excellent communication and negotiation skills, learn management skills and critical thinking skills. All of these skills are in-demand and will increase your chances of employability. If it’s your own business that you want, then a business degree will teach you entrepreneurial skills too.


With such a broad subject field, the career on offer are also wide. Below are just a small sample of possible positions and the average salaries around the world.


Average salary in each destination





Hotel Manager




Human Resources Manager




Marketing Manager




Sales Manager




*correct at time of writing


Find the best business schools in:


5 Computer Science

Technology has transformed the way in which we live and will continue to do so, which means that a degree in this area will guarantee a career in the future.



The UK is currently experiencing a shortage of skilled workers in the computer science field. According to a recent report, data is now the most important skill to have in UK tech. There has been a 1006% increase in demand for data skills in the past three years. The US Department of Labor website states that computer tech jobs are expected to grow 14.6% in the next nine years. The situation is similar in Australia, Canada and other destinations around the world.


As well as a guaranteed job and competitive salaries, studying computer science at undergraduate level will also give you:

  • Opportunity to work in a wide range of industries
  • Opportunity to make an impact on the world
  • Wide and in-depth knowledge
  • Remote working opportunities
  • Transferable skills such as:
    • Critical thinking
    • Problem-solving
    • Analytical skills
    • Attention to detail


The career options open to you are endless, below are just a selection of them:

  • Data analyst
  • App developer
  • Software developer
  • Cybersecurity analyst
  • Systems analyst
  • Mobile developer
  • Web designer
  • Network architect
  • Artificial intelligence engineer
  • Teacher


 The table below gives an idea of the salaries on offer:

Average salary in each destination





Data analyst




App developer




Software developer




AI engineer





See our article on what to expect when studying computer science and best universities for computer science.


Our very quick tour of the five most popular undergraduate degrees for international students is now over. If you feel you’d like to know more about undergraduate courses read our guide explaining what undergraduate education is and what types of bachelor’s degrees there are on offer. Use our course matcher tool to find the right one for you.




Want to check which program suits you the best?
Find out with our new "Course Matcher" tool!

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