Houston’s Premier PK3 – 12th Grade International Day School

Career or Major

*Adapted from the CollegeBoard’s Book of Majors

What is a major?

Your college major is the subject you will take the most courses in and learn the most about. It’s the area of study that your degree will be in, after you complete the required courses.

As an undergraduate, you will most likely work toward a two year Associate of Arts (A.A.) or Associate of Science (A.S.) degree, or a four-year Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Bachelor of Science (B.S.), or Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) degree.

Whatever your major is, you will probably take up to half of your courses in the liberal arts, to fulfill what is known as “general education” or “core” requirements. Most students take these general education requirements in the first two years of a four-year program.

How to choose a major

You may have no idea, at the moment, what you want to study in college. A good way to zero in on a major is to think of what interests you and what you are really good at. Examine your academic strengths and the subjects that inspire you to learn.

What activities do you enjoy, either in or outside school? For many students, hobbies and extracurricular activities are as important as class work. Maybe your major will relate to your experience in community or volunteer work, religious activities, scouting, sports, or the arts.

What are your values and your vision of the future? Think about what matters to you and how your priorities may affect your choice of a major. Then, look around and ask yourself how the world affects you. Look inside yourself and look outside at other forces in your life.

When to decide on your major

Many first year students are undecided about their majors. Most four-year colleges expect you to declare your major at the end of your second year. That gives you time to take courses, including the liberal arts requirements, in a number of fields before you settle on a major. For some degrees, you will want to declare a major as soon as possible.

Applied and academic majors

You can divide majors into two big groups- applied majors and academic majors. Applied majors prepare you for a specific career by giving you the knowledge and skills you will need in a particular line of work. Applied majors also prepare you for special licensing, certifications, or other credentials you’ll need in jobs like accounting, teaching, and social work. Academic majors are in the arts and sciences and include the humanities, science, and math. The academic majors don’t necessarily lead to specific careers. They prepare you for graduate studies or for professions in which a wide range of skills and creative talents are valued.

The right major at the right college

Which comes first, your choice of a major or your choice of a college? You should have some idea of what you want to study as you search for colleges because you will want a school with a strong program in that area.

Which comes first, your choice of a major or your choice of a college? You should have some idea of what you want to study as you search for colleges because you will want a school with a strong program in that area.

Concentrations, minors, double majors, and special programs

You may have even more options beside the choice of major. You may select a concentration that allows you to specialize in a topic within your major by taking a cluster of courses in the subject area. Another option is to add a minor to your major. A minor is course work in which you explore another field, but not exactly as widely or as deeply as for your major. Some colleges let you take a double major in related or even unrelated fields. In a double major, you complete two majors at the same time. Another option to consider is a combined bachelor’s and graduate degree. For many of these joint degrees you are accepted into both programs when you apply to college.

Pre-professional programs

To prepare you for advanced studies, some colleges offer pre-professional programs. These are advisory programs that lead you through a group of requirements that you can fulfill in almost any major. The best thing you can do if you plan to go to law school, medical school, or graduate programs is to get excellent grades in your undergraduate work. You’ll also need to prepare for the appropriate professional school or grad school entrance exam.

Switching Majors

Many students switch majors in college. If you find yourself in a major that you want to change, be sure to check with your academic advisor who can help you sort through electives, choose a major, change your major, and steer you toward completion of your degree.

Planning for now and for later

Think about your interests and talents while you read about the majors. Once you narrow the selection to a few majors, do some research on college programs in those majors. Ask about qualifications of faculty members and availability of resources for instance. You can also visit the websites of professional associations for specific careers and of leading employers of graduates in a particular major. Try to remain flexible. The world is changing so rapidly that jobs in demand when you declare a major may be different after you graduate.