The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 63.0°F | Partly Cloudy

Course VI Continues as Top Major Choice; Biology Physics Trends Stabilize

By Brett Altschul

The Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science continues to attract the most sophomore majors, with 317 students overall, according to the annual report of major declarations from the Registrar's Office.

Mechanical engineering, biology, and chemical engineering rounded out the top four. Each department saw an enrollment similar to last year's figure.

The number of students choosing the VI-2 (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science) division of EECS rose dramatically, from 66 last year to 154 this year. The number of students choosing VI-1 (Electrical Science and Engineering) and VI-3 (Computer Science and Engineering) remained about the same, at 66 and 97, respectively.

Biology, physics trends stabilize

The growth of the biology department leveled off this year with 120 majors. The Class of 1997 had 130 majors, compared to 75 from the Class of 1996.

Another trend, the decline in physics majors, ended this year. The department saw a 13 percent increase over last year's enrollment as the number of sophomores rose from 48 to 54.

The distribution of students between the School of Engineering and the School of Science changed very little from last year. About 62 percent of sophomores declared engineering majors while 26 percent chose majors in science.

In addition, the School of Humanities and Social Science and the Sloan School of Management each garnered 4 percent of the major choices while 2 percent chose majors in the School of Architecture and Planning. Three percent, or 32 students, did not designate a major. The distribution of students into the different schools did not significantly change from last year.

One department that did see a remarkable change was ocean engineering, which realized an increase from just one sophomore last year to five this year. "We don't think it is a random fluctuation," said Professor of Naval Architecture Justin E. Kerwin '53.

"We have been developing a new undergraduate curriculum in ocean engineering and have been making an effort to encourage freshmen to consider it. We hope that this is a trend, and that there will be another increase this year," Kerwin said.

The total number of registered students for the Class of 1998 rose to 1,087, compared to 1,067 in the Class of 1997.