Stream Selection after Class 10th

For most students in class 9th and 10th, visions of a career path are mostly restricted to childhood dreams.

“I’ll grow up to be a pilot…a teacher…a doctor!”

Ever since those early flights of fancy, very few actually give their career choice a serious thought.

Yet as class 9th ends or class 10th begins, all of a sudden, this question starts coming up in a big way. Parents, family, teachers (sometimes even friends) can’t stop talking about how you need to choose your stream after class 10th and that it is time you start deciding.

Now, you haven’t even started thinking about your career or stream yet, how are you supposed to choose a stream that’s going to be there with you for 2 years, and a career that may stay with you for the rest of your life?

Alright, let’s not panic here. Stream choice can seem like a daunting task, but it is actually not that difficult if you are aware of your options and engage in a bit of diligent research and introspection.

The best thing to do is to take it a step at a time. So, why not start with the basics? Let’s first look at what stream choice is all about, and the streams in class 11 CBSE, along with the subjects offered in each.

What are the Streams in Class 11th?

CBSE offers 3 stream options which determine the subjects you will study in your class 11th and 12th and the career options you would ultimately have in the future.

The 3 streams in class 11 CBSE are:

  1. Science
  2. Commerce
  3. Arts/Humanities

Let’s look at each of them in detail.

1. Science: The Study of the Physical and Natural World

This is one stream that most of you would have a fair bit of idea about. Not just because everyone studies science subjects till class 10th at least, but also because this is a stream people can’t seem to stop talking about. From statements like, “Go for the science stream so that you can become an Engineer or a Doctor” to even “You are good at academics, you would be thinking of opting science, I’m sure?”

While these notions hardly hold a candle to reality, chances are you would have some type of understanding about what the science stream entails.

The Science stream, as I mentioned above, relates to the study of the physical and natural world through the study of pure sciences and their applications in the real world. From understanding how the laws of gravitation govern planetary motion to learning about the structure of the atom, you will uncover the many mysteries of the world around us.

Thus, innate curiosity and keenness to explore, coupled with a logical thinking ability are essential to be successful in this stream.

What are the subjects in Science in class 11?

The science stream has two sub-branches, divided based on the third subject you study:

  • Medical – Physics, Chemistry, Biology, English, Optional Subject
  • Non-Medical – Physics, Chemistry, Maths, English, Optional Subject

Physics and Chemistry are common to both the branches and the primary difference lies in whether you opt for Mathematics (PCM) or Biology (PCB). However, students sometimes go with a combination of the two (PCMB), choosing to study Mathematics in place of the optional subject. A PCMB combination has its own pros and cons, and it is a decision you should take only after careful consideration.

While the first 4 subjects are tied to the stream you choose and are compulsory for all students to study, CBSE gives you a choice for your 5th subject or optional subject.

The board offers many choices, but the most commonly-opted for optional subjects with science are:

  • Medical – Psychology, Biotechnology, Mathematics, Economics, Home Science, Fine Arts, Physical Education
  • Non-Medical – Computer Science, Economics, Physical Education, Engineering Drawing, Fine Arts, Psychology

Which career options do you have with the Science Stream?

Although the medical branch has been so named because it opens a pathway to a career in Medicine after class 12th, don’t be misled by the name thinking that is all there is to it. There are many alternate careers and routes available with the stream if you decide to go that way.

From options in the biological and life sciences, such as Zoology, Botany, Microbiology, Biochemistry, to options in allied fields like Nutrition, Pharmacology, Psychology, Biotechnology, etc., there is a  lot of options for you to explore. Apart from these, those interested in medicine, yet not willing to go the standard MBBS route can even explore alternate branches of medicine (like Dentistry, Ayurveda, Homeopathy, etc.) or allied medicine fields (like Physiotherapy, Clinical Research, Audiology, etc.)

Similarly, popular opinion dictates that Engineering is the only option (or the only suitable option) for PCM students. Well, that is definitely not the case. Non-medical students can build their careers in a wide range of exciting fields such as Architecture, Aviation, Statistics, Defense, Design, Ethical Hacking, Merchant Navy, Computer Applications, Physics, Chemistry, and the list goes on.

2. Commerce: The Study of Trade and Business

The next in line, Commerce is not without its own associated myths. The most popular ones being, “Commerce is good for average students who cannot get into science” or “Commerce is only suitable for students from business families.”

These are again a far cry from the truth. Commerce is a field that relates to the study of business, trade and finance. Commerce students study how goods and services are exchanged, how businesses operate, how financial transactions occur, how the economy of the country works, and more. The indispensability of commerce and its related careers to our day-to-day living makes it a lucrative field to explore, and one with a wide choice of career options too.

While you may or may not choose to study Mathematics as part of Commerce, numbers form the base for this stream. A strong hold over calculations and fundamentals of maths, and the ability to deal with large amounts of data are critical elements of success in the commerce stream.

What are the subjects in Commerce in class 11?

Commerce is a stream that students generally have the least idea about since its three main subjects are new to most students.

The following are the subjects you are required to study: Accountancy, Business Studies, Economics, English, Mathematics (or optional subject)

Accountancy as subject covers concepts related to the managing of the income and finances of a business or an individual. You study topics like transactions, expenditure, cash books, memos, trial balance, trading, profit, etc. and learn how to make a balance sheet.

On the other hand, as part of Business Studies, you study about the types of businesses and organizations, differences between private and public sector companies, models of business, business finance, international trade, etc. For Economics, you study about Indian economic development, statistical tools, demand and supply, government budget and economy, etc.

For the fifth subject, the board gives a choice between Mathematics and other elective subjects. Thus, if you are not very comfortable with maths, you can choose not to study it.

The optional subjects available with the Commerce stream are:

Informatics Practices, Physical Education, Computer Science, Multimedia and Web Technology, Entrepreneurship, Legal Studies, Psychology and Fine Arts

Which career options do you have with the Commerce Stream? 

The commerce stream is a popular choice amongst students looking to build their career in the fields of accounting, banking, finance and related areas. With the right knack for numbers and data, you can build a highly lucrative and financially rewarding career in these fields.

The major and popular career options for commerce students after 12thinclude Chartered Accountancy (CA), Company Secretary (CS), Actuarial Science, Management, Economics, Bank PO, Investment Banking, Stockbroking, Finance, Entrepreneurship, Law, Hotel Management, and many more.

3. Humanities: The Study of Human Society and the World

Humanities as a domain have been widely misunderstood and disregarded in the past, but as we complete the second decade of the 21st century, things are changing fast. Not considered as a stream for academically weak students anymore, more and more students are looking to opt humanities for the wide range of subject and career options it provides.

Humanities is a very broad domain that covers areas related to the human society, relationships, culture and systems. These fields help you gain a deeper understanding of how the world and society around us work and how human society, laws and norms have evolved over time. From the study of how people interact in group settings to the study of the legal rights of citizens, everything comes under the purview of humanities.

Students who are aware and curious to learn about world affairs, social issues, historical events and society are the ideal fit to explore humanities as their stream in class 11th and 12th.

What are the subjects in Arts/Humanities in class 11?

As opposed to science and commerce which offer a small window of choice (mainly in choosing the optional subject), humanities offers students plenty of choice in their subjects.

You can choose from a range of main subjects including History, Political Science, Economics, Geography, Sociology and Psychology.

Some schools allow students to take up these subjects in any combination they like, while others provide more fixed choices, such as choosing between Geography and History, Political Science and Economics, etc.

Optional Subjects with Humanities include: Maths, Home Science, Legal Studies, Fine Arts, Physical Education, Media Studies

Humanities with Mathematics is another combination that is becoming popular with students these days. Keeping maths as your 5th or 6thsubject opens up career options for you in Economics, Business and Finance.

Which career options do you have with the Arts/Humanities Stream?

The most prevalent myth about the humanities stream is that it has limited career options available after 12th. And why not, what can one even do with subjects like History and Geography anyway? Well, this statement just emphasises how less aware most people are about humanities.

Many highly lucrative and sought-after career options lie ahead of humanities students once they clear their class 12th. Design, Law, Psychology, Economics, Management, History, Archaeology, International Relations, Hotel Management, Event Management, Mass Communication, Journalism, Civil Services, Social Work, Sociology, Photography, Fashion Communication, Content Writing, are a few of the possible fields available due to the wide applicability of humanities.

Not just that, there are more and more new fields also coming up in the humanities domain, a few fields that did not even exist a few decades back. These include fields such as Gerontology, Public Policy, Habitat Policy and Practice, Gender Studies, Rural Studies and Development, Museology, and Art Restoration, etc.

How to Choose Your Stream After Class 10th

Now you would be thinking, “Thanks for all the information, Sarvpreet! But how do I decide between them?”

As you begin the process of choosing your stream for class 11th, start first by learning as much as you can about each stream. Use the information above as a starting point, but go beyond and read the course structure and look at the books for each subject to gain a better understanding of what you will study.

There’s going to be a world of difference between what you have studied up till class 10th and what you’ll be studying in these two years. Thus, it is important that you know exactly what is going to lie ahead (especially important for subjects you have never studied, like Accounts).

Talk to people like your seniors and elder siblings who have been through this to learn about what each of them entails. Many schools also allow you to take a few classes for each subject before you finalise your choice.

Finally, if even after exploration there are doubts and you are not sure which stream and subject combinations are best for you, feel free to take the help of career counsellors to guide you.

Which stream are you leaning towards the most? Share with us in the comments below!



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