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Choosing a major

As you think about a possible major, ask yourself these questions:

  • Which is more important to employers in my field of interest: academic credentials or work experience?
  • Do employers in my field of interest require a particular degree or major to progress in my career? Or is it more important to have a bachelor's degree and the major is less important? Does the employer prefer a generalist degree?
  • What is important to professionals in my future career, my current employer and work peers? What is important to me and to other significant people in my life?
  • How many credits beyond the minimum 120-124 will it take to complete my preferred major? Would it serve me better to choose a shorter major or program in order to finish sooner?
  • Will I pursue a master's degree in the future? Will I need a bachelor?s that prepares me for the master's? Do I need to build in graduate school prerequisites?
  • Do I have strong credentials or a lot of experience in my chosen field? In general, those with weaker experience in a field are advised to select a focused major in that field rather than a general or individualized program.
  • Am I selecting this degree because I don't know what else to choose?

Step 1

Become familiar with resources and services that can assist you in choosing your major and understanding your career options.

Planned Completion Date:________________

Step 2

Develop a list of all the academic majors and careers you want to explore

  • Read about majors in which you have an interest
  • Ask about career and interest assessments available at the Career Center
  • Seek ideas from your instructors, relatives, classmates, friends, etc.

Think big. Think outside the box.

Planned Completion Date:________________

Step 3

Gather information about the majors and careers on your exploration list

  • Learn about degree requirements for these majors by meeting with your academic advisor and reviewing details about the program.
  • Meet with faculty who teach in these majors to learn more about the curriculum, courses in the major, and what you can do with each major after graduation
  • Talk with people who work in the careers you are interested in. Find out what they do, what they like about their career, what skills and knowledge they need, and how they got into that career.
  • Read about the careers related to your potential majors at the Career Center and library
  • Keep a journal as you go through your exploration with entries describing your activities, what you have learned, and your thoughts

Planned Completion Date:_______________

Step 4

Evaluate majors and careers and narrow your choices

  • Eliminate any majors or careers you have no further interest in considering
  • List all the pros and cons for the remaining majors and related careers that you are considering
  • Discuss with your academic advisor or the career center how your major and career choices connect and schedule a follow-up appointment
  • Narrow your choices to 2 to 3 majors you will explore further

Planned Completion Date:______________

Step 5

Evaluate the majors on your "narrowed down" list

  • Make a list of your interests, skills, and values. Which majors or careers do your interests, skills and values fit with?
  • What are potential rewards or practical issues you need to consider when reviewing your list of majors and related careers
  • Write down any additional pros and cons that you?ve learned about these majors and related careers
  • Review and compare pros and cons
  • Meet with the academic advisors, faculty and department chairs who work in these programs and find out about the course work and career opportunities
  • Contact the Alumni Association for information by major about graduates who are available to talk to students about their studies and their careers since graduating
  • Review your journal entries

Planned Completion Date:_________________

Step 6

Choose your major and minors!

  • Based on your evaluation of the majors on your narrowed down list, decide which major best fits your values, skills and interests
  • Consider a double major, or adding a minor in other fields of study in which you are interested.
  • Contact your academic advisor for help in determining requirements and the feasibility of your choice.
  • Declare your major and plan what courses you should register for in the next semester.

Planned Completion Date:___________________