Deciding on a Major

Students may declare their majors at any time during their academic careers, but should do so before registering for courses for the junior year or applying to participate in off-campus study programs. Bear in mind that although your major will direct your studies, the vast majority of Arts & Sciences majors will effectively prepare you for any number of career options.

Many students use their first year to explore options: investigate potential majors with professors and advisers in the respective departments; select courses that will both fulfill general education requirements and give a good sampling of the majors in which they are interested.  This is a time to focus on courses that seem most interesting to you and to try new things.  By the end of your sophomore year you should be able to make your decision.  Further delays may result in additional time needed to graduate.

After The First Year
Meet with your adviser each semester!  Begin to work together to narrow down your choices and decide on a major.  Share your thinking about possible majors.  Discuss your strategies for exploration and academic planning.  Some departments have courses that must be passed, or standards that must be met before a student will be accepted as a major. To help get you started, you should:                 

Assess your interests….

  • What types of jobs or careers can you see yourself doing well?
  • What topics hold your attention? 

Examine your abilities....

  • Where do you excel?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • What skills do you have?

Perhaps look back to your time in high school to see where your strengths lie….

  • What were your favorite subjects?
  • What kinds of extracurricular activities did you participate in while in high school?
  • What kinds of things did you learn from part-time or summer jobs?

Other options that may help you to narrow your focus:

  • Professors, including your academic adviser -- many can speak with experience about career opportunities in given fields

  • Classmates, especially upperclassmen -- these students are deep into their majors and may have had internships or gone through job interviews

  • Alumni -- many alums appreciate opportunities to talk with current students

  • Family and friends -- they know a lot about you and will see where you are thriving

  • Visit the Career Services Center, where career testing and counseling is also available

  • Talk to everyone you can!  Find out what courses were taken by people in your area of interest. What degrees are required beyond the undergraduate degree?  What careers are graduates with these interests likely to enter?

  • Get involved!  Active involvement in campus and community activities will help you focus on your strengths, interests, and skills.

  • Consult the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook

Many students change their majors over the course their college careers. But knowing your major can help you focus your academic plan.