It’s a commonplace of for-profit management that units can be characterized in one of three ways: rising stars, cash cows, and dogs. The savvy manager is supposed to feed the stars, milk the cows, and shoot the dogs. … We milk the cows precisely so we don’t have to shoot the dogs.
The “cows” are the profitable courses and the “dogs” are the unprofitable courses. Popular belief has it that English classes are cash cows because they require fewer resources than, say, chemistry classes. However, this blog says that English classes only break even because they also have smaller classes. The real cash cows are the social sciences. The biggest dog is nursing. The profit from teaching history, for example, makes it possible to train nurses.