What is a college major?

An academic major, major concentration, or simply major is a student’s main field of specialization during his or her undergraduate studies. A major program of study will include a specific number of required course and a number of elective courses relevant to the major. These are in addition to the general education or core education requirements needed to obtain a degree.

When should I declare a major?

At most colleges, you’ll be asked what you want to major in on the application but aren't required to declare a major until the end of your sophomore year. In fact, some schools do not allow students to officially declare their major until the end of their second year so that students can experience explore a core liberal arts curriculum and then choose the most appropriate major for them.

How do I choose?

Some students start college knowing exactly what they'd like to major in. Others have a career goal but no knowledge of what majors will get them there. Talk to your high school guidance counselor about your interests and match that up with the majors offered at the colleges you are interested in.  Keep in mind that most students change their major at least once so allow yourself some room to change your mind by choosing schools that offer a wide variety of majors.

What if I don’t know when I’m applying?

Then list yourself as undecided or undeclared on the application. This choice enables first- and second-year students to take more general courses while they decide on a major. Beginning your junior year, coursework becomes more focused and specific so it’s important to use this time to find where your interests lie. Take courses in areas that appeal to you, then try and focus on a subject that will interest and motivate you. Whatever you do, don’t.choose a major by the process of elimination—that could take quite awhile and a lot of extra money.

Must I select only one major? 

No. Depending on the college, you might be able to major in two fields, have a major and a minor, or even create your own major.  It is generally recommended that you make these decisions during your sophomore year, after you’ve had a chance to complete most of your core coursework and have begun to make some career decisions.

What if I know I want to go to grad school?

If you’re already thinking that graduate or professional school is in your future, consider colleges that offer Master’s or Pre-Professional Programs. Attending a college that offers a Master’s degree in your area of interest is beneficial in many ways – you’ll already know the faculty and will have a head start on the requirements. A Pre-Professional program (such as pre-dentistry or pre-law) ensures that your coursework is selected to assist in your pursuit of graduate or professional studies.

Does my major dictate my profession?

Sometimes. If you specialize in something like accounting, theatre or computer science, you're learning a specific trade and will likely continue with that. Most majors, however, prepare you for a range of careers that you can be trained for once you graduate. For most students, picking a college major is not the same as picking a career. It will be up to you to pursue what you like. Talk to as many people as you can about their jobs and use that to help determine what you want to do with your life.