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Undeclared Program: Steps to Choosing a Major

Step 1 » Step 2 — Gather Information and Explore Options » Step 3 » Step 4

The next step in the decision-making process is to compare what you found out about your own interests, skills, and values with the majors offered in the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences.

  • Establish a short list of 5-6 possible majors.
    • Use the list of majors to eliminate the majors that do not interest you.
    • Use the General Catalog and department requirement worksheets to explore the majors for which you have some interest or curiosity. Read the upper division course descriptions and the major requirements.

Remember to think broadly about majors, as many majors relate to numerous career fields and prepare students for similar work environments and graduate programs.

  • Go to the department office and pick up their materials.
  • Browse the departmental website.
  • Know which majors are selective or require breadth courses to be met in a specific manner.
  • Discuss course selections with an Undeclared Academic Advisor that will keep your options open while exploring. 
  • Attend informational and pre-professional workshops.

Ask yourself the following questions for each of the majors you are considering:

  • Does this major’s required course work complement my interests and abilities?
  • Is this the best major to address my multiple interests?
  • Are there any prerequisite courses that may be particularly difficult for me?
  • Do the courses in this major match my learning style? 
  • How much freedom will I have to take elective courses?
  • Does this major require a lot of writing, quantitative skills, foreign language courses?
  • What areas of research are the faculty engaged in?  
  • Are there other important considerations for me?

The earlier you narrow your focus, the more options you will have available to possibly address multiple interests through a double major, a minor, electives, and off-campus educational opportunities such as Education Abroad, UC Washington Center Program, or UC Sacramento Program.

Additional resources:

What Can I do with a Major in. . .?

"Five Signs You Should Change Your Major" via monsterTRAK.com

Major to Career converter via MonsterTRAK.com

THE MAJOR CHOICE CHECKLIST (adapted from the University of Buffalo)

Keep in mind, that ANY major can, in theory, lead to ANY career. Take time to dig deeper using the following questions:

  1. Where have graduates of your program gone? What specific organizations have hired them and for what positions? Do any of these areas represent a good fit for my own needs and goals?
  2. What specific prerequisites are required for admission to this major? Is there a GPA requirement? What is the declaration process?
  3. What courses and experiences are required to complete this major? Are there internship or practicum requirements? How about research opportunities? Does the department offer a listserv that I can join?
  4. Which courses have I already taken that will apply to this major? Toward breadth requirements? Which further coursework will be required?
  5. What other programs does the department offer? Minors?  Which of these options fit my needs best?
  6. What skills and competencies will I develop through this major?
  7. What might I dislike about this major?
  8. Where do my strengths need to be to do well in this major?
  9. What is the department’s class size?
  10. Who can I contact with future questions?