Institute for Economic and Social Research

Seminar | Di Wang, China Agricultural University


Time: May 13 (Fri.), 1:30 -3:00 pm (Beijing Time)

Title: Is a Broader Major More Attractive? Evidence from the Meta Major Reform in China’s College Education

About the Speaker:

Di Wang is an Assistant Professor in the College of Economics and Management at China Agricultural University. He obtained his Ph.D. in Economics from University of California, Santa Barbara. His research focuses on environmental economics and development economics.


There are still some debates about whether students should be assigned into a narrow specialty or a broader major when entering college. With the administrative data of China’s National College Entrance Examination in the period of 2006-2011, this study joins the debates by investigating the effects of the meta-major reform on students’ application behaviors, which can reveal their preferences over the breadth of specialty. Once a college implemented the reform on one undergraduate program in a specific year, students in this program could finalize their choices of narrow specialties until sophomore year or junior year, after taking a set of general courses. The results of difference-in-differences regressions show that, the average admission score for meta majors is about 2 points higher than that for single-subject majors. The effects increase with college’s reputation and meta major’s breadth. These findings suggest that students value breadth and flexibility when making decisions on college application. Moreover, students from higher SES families show stronger preferences over major breath. It’s probably because they have more resources to afford the uncertainties associated with major breadth or have higher expectations of pursuing graduate study.


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