What Should I Major In? – Student Guide to Choosing a Major
On this page
Back to top
- What is FAFSA Student Aid?
- How To Apply For FAFSA Student Aid?
- What Happens After Applying For FAFA Student Aid?
- Faqs About FAFSA Student Aid
- Additional Resources about FAFSA Student Aid
What should I major in? This is a burning questions for a lot of college students. A college major is a subject that students study to earn their degrees. It typically includes various courses and accounts for a large percentage of the degree requirements. A college major is also a second degree program or additional education on top of an original degree. Today, students must determine their college major by considering what they would like to study and the future careers they wish to pursue. Thanks to an increase in specializations, this process has become easier—but it still requires a fair amount of research.
What Should I Major in?
Because choosing a college major is so important to a student’s future, it should not be taken lightly. Students should understand the requirements for different majors, and they should also know what type of degree and career paths are available to them. This guide provides all the information on what a college major is and what it takes in choosing a major that serves personal interests and professional goals.
What is a College
What is a college major? A college major is the program of study that students complete in order to earn their degrees. While earning the degree requires completing plenty of coursework, it is also important for students to know what career paths they can pursue upon graduating.
A college major is often defined as the main subject of an academic course of study for a bachelor’s or master’s degree. It is typically made up of several courses and involves the completion of core and elective courses to meet the requirements of the degree.
Choosing a major can be tricky. Some students decide what they want to study in college from the very beginning, while others take a few years to figure it out.
Key Factors in Choosing
Primarily, a college major is designed to provide students with a better understanding of their field of study. It is also meant to round out general education requirements and help students prepare for their future careers.
When students get down to choosing a major, they should consider several factors, which include the time it takes to complete the program, its relevance to future career goals, and the courses students will take. Students should also consider how difficult it might be to find a job in their field of interest upon graduation.
Choosing a Major to Prepare for a Career
Many students choose specific majors to prepare for their future careers. This decision will often be influenced by the earning potential and the availability of jobs in their field. To choose a major that can prepare them for a career, students must consider their interests and future plans.
Choosing a Major due to Interests
Many students choose majors based on their interests and hobbies. This may lead them into a completely different field than they originally intended. A student who enjoys photography, for instance, may choose to study art. Students who enjoy writing fiction might consider English as their major.
How to choose a College
There is probably nothing more confusing than trying to pick a college major as a student. In order to find the right college major, one should be able to answer three questions: 1) What subject area are they interested in? 2) What type of college degree does the major require? 3) What career path can a person with a degree in this major go into?
Part One: Subject Area of Interest
Before students even begin their college careers, they should know what subject area they are interested in from a very young age. This will help them narrow down their choices when choosing a college major.
Part Two: College Degree Requirements
Not all majors require the same type of degree. Students should identify what type of degree is required from the college they choose, especially if they plan to transfer colleges.
Part Three: Career Paths
When students have chosen a major, they should research what career path can be taken from that college degree. They may find that some majors require a graduate degree, so students should also be aware of this.
Once students have answered these questions, they will be able to choose a college major that will set them up for success after graduating from college.
Picking a college major can be difficult, but it does not have to be if students research what they want to learn and where their degree can lead them. Ideally, students should begin early in high school so they can begin preparing for their future but choosing one while entering an undergraduate program is not too late.
Choosing a College Major: Some Pointers
- Discover your true calling and where your interests lie.
- When deciding on a major, take into consideration potential colleges.
- Take your time to examine career recommendations, prospects, and advice.
- Always declare your chosen major in the college application form.
- Understand how far the chosen major will carry you at the undergraduate level before making a choice.
- Consider the pros and cons of a STEM field.
- Combine your major with a helpful minor to make the most of your time.
- Make a rough estimate of potential earnings.
- Understand that you can alter your major at any time.
Should Students Double
An academic major is a student’s primary area of focus, which may be composed of several related concentrations. In most cases, students will choose their academic major during their freshman year. While they cannot always pursue multiple majors, they may double major.
Obtaining two majors on a single bachelor’s degree is known as double majoring. To graduate with a bachelor’s degree in both majors, a student must meet the criteria of both programs. The only difference between a conventional bachelor’s degree and a double major is listing two majors instead of one. This denotes that the student has completed all of the required coursework (and other requirements) for each major. The student can claim to have majored in both subjects if they have a double major. This can significantly impact one’s career prospects or the transition to graduate school.
While choosing a major is quite tricky, choosing two majors could prove trickier. But before deciding, students should consider some of the important advantages and disadvantages of double majoring:
Advantages of double majoring
- boosts career options and prospects in certain sectors.
- broadens one’s skill set and improves one’s ability to think critically.
- provides better job opportunities depending on the combination of the double major – for example, coupling a STEM subject with liberal arts has more potential than only a liberal arts major.
- can sometimes save time and money on tuition if classes overlap.
Disadvantages of double majoring
- may require more than the typical four or five years to graduate.
- maybe hard to balance the two majors; one might suffer at the expense of the other.
- can have an increased course load that would require classes to be taken in the summers.
- can limit the possibility of choosing many electives or pursuing other interests.
Here are some common and popular combinations of double majors
- Art and Psychology
- English and Philosophy
- Economics and Mathematics
- Philosophy and Computer Science
- Foreign Language and International Studies
- English and Chemistry
- Psychology and Sociology
- Education and Psychology
- Biology and Chemistry
- Communications and Business
Common subjects that
Students Major in
KW: the subjects in which college students major
There are many types of college majors, including those focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields, business, communications, health professions, humanities, art, etc. Some popular ones are:
Students who choose STEM majors typically take courses in mathematics, science, and engineering. They might also take courses in technology, computer science, and information systems.
Business majors might study accounting, economics, finance, international business, and marketing. Students might also choose concentrations in entrepreneurship, management, and supply chain management.
Health Professions Majors
Health professions majors might study in areas such as nursing, exercise science, medical technology, and public health. Some students choose health professions as secondary majors or prepare for graduate-level work.
Here is an exhaustive list of common subjects that students major in:
- Anthropology and Archeology: Studies human societies and cultures, past and present.
- Art: Fine arts including painting, sculpture, photography, and music.
- Biology: The study of living organisms and their environment. Includes anatomy, biochemistry, and ecology.
- Business: Courses in accounting, finance, marketing, and more.
- Communications: Courses in public speaking, writing, and media literacy.
- Criminal Justice: Are courses related to crime, legal systems, and criminology.
- Political Science: Are courses that focus on government, citizenship, and politics.
- Psychology: Are courses that explore human behavior, motivation, and mental processes.
- Sociology: Are courses that focus on the study of social structures and cultures.
- Speech: Are courses that explore the fundamentals of public speaking, performance, and interpersonal communication.
- American Studies: Are courses that explore the history, politics, and culture of the United States.
- Anthropology: Are courses that focus on human cultures, languages, and biology.
- Art History: Are courses that focus on art movements, periods, and artists.
- Astrology: Are courses that explore the influence of stars and planets on human behavior.
- Biochemistry: Are courses that focus on the chemical processes of living cells and organisms.
- Broadcast Journalism: Are courses that focus on news reporting, writing, conducting interviews, and producing stories.
- Business Communication: Are courses that focus on communication in contemporary business contexts.
- Civil Engineering: Are courses that focus on the planning, design, construction, and renovation of public works.
- Communication Design: Are courses that focus on the use of computers in the communication industry.
- Computer Science: Are courses that explore hardware and software, programming languages, and algorithm design.
- Creative Writing: Are courses that focus on the study of literature, poetry, and fiction.
- Economics: Focuses on the production, distribution, and consumption of goods.
- Education: Courses that prepare students to be teachers at the elementary or secondary level.
- English: Grammar, reading, and writing.
- Geography: Studies the Earth’s physical features, historical development, and human activity.
- History: Courses that focus on the study of past events and their impact.
- Philosophy: Are courses that examine patterns of reasoning and the foundations of knowledge.
- Criminal Justice: Are courses related to crime, legal systems, and criminology.
- Criminal Law: Are courses that focus on the study of criminal behavior and the consequences of committing a crime.
- Criminology: Are courses that focus on the study and explanation of criminal behavior.
- Cyber Security: Are courses that focus on the prevention, detection, and recovery from attacks.
- Digital Arts: Are courses related to digital media in visual, performance, and interactive art.
- Digital Design: Are courses that focus on the use of digital media in visual design.
- Economics: Are courses that focus on the production, consumption, and distribution of goods and services.
- Electrical Engineering: Are courses related to the design and generation of electrical systems.
- Engineering: Are courses that focus on the study and application of engineering principles in design and construction.
- English as a Second Language: Are courses that focus on the use of written and spoken English as a second language.
- Ethnomusicology: Are courses that focus on traditional music, culture, and society.
- Graphic Design: Are courses related to the use of visual communication design.
- Healthcare Management: Are courses that focus on management in the healthcare industry.
- Hospitality and Tourism Management: Are courses that focus on the hospitality and tourism industry.
- Hospitality Management: Are courses that focus on management in a restaurant or hotel.
- Illustration: Are courses related to the use of illustration in communication design.
- Industrial Engineering: Are courses that focus on the optimization of industrial systems and operations.
- Information Systems: Are courses that focus on how information is used in the creation, sharing, and storage.
- Information Technology: Are courses that explore the creation and use of computerized technologies.
- Installation Art: Are courses related to artworks that take place in a three-dimensional space.
- Interior Design: Are courses related to the design and construction of interior spaces.
- Journalism: Are courses that focus on the reporting and writing of news stories.
- Landscape Architecture: Are courses related to the planning, design, and management of outdoor spaces.
- Liberal Arts: Are courses that focus on studies in the humanities or social sciences.
- Literature: Are courses that focus on literature, poetry, and fiction.
- Marketing: Are courses related to the study of marketing products, services, and ideas.
- Marketing Analytics: Are courses that focus on the collection, analysis, and use of marketing data.
- Mass Communication: Are courses that focus on the history and practice of mass media.
- Medical Illustration: Are courses related to illustration in medical publications and research.
- Metalsmithing: Are courses related to the hand-forging and working of metals in design work.
- Sculpture: Are courses that focus on sculpting physical objects into three-dimensional forms.
- Social Work: Are courses that focus on helping individuals in society with social services, education, and research.
- Sociology: Are courses that focus on the study of human society, social institutions, and culture.
- Special Education: Are courses related to educating individuals with disabilities.
- Speech and Language Pathology: Are courses that help individuals with problems in communication and swallowing.
- Sports Management: Are courses related to the management of sports personnel and facilities.
- Textile Arts: Are courses that explore textile development in fabrics, uniforms, costumes, etc.
- Theatre Arts: Are courses that focus on the history, criticism, and practice of theatre.
- Music: Are courses that focus on the study and performance of songs, scores, and compositions.
- Nursing (RN): Are courses that prepare individuals to provide nursing care in a hospital setting.
- Nursing (Nursing Administration): Are courses that prepare individuals to provide leadership in nursing.
- Nursing (Nursing Education): Are courses that prepare individuals to teach in nursing.
- Nutrition: Are courses that focus on the study of nutrients and their role in nourishing the body.
- Occupational Safety: Are courses related to the workplace management of safety.
- Painting: Are courses related to the use of paint and color composition in visual art.
- Performing Arts: Are courses that focus on the use of performing arts in communication design.
- Psychiatric Nursing: Are courses related to nursing care for individuals with mental health problems.
- Psychiatric Rehabilitation: Are courses that focus on the provision of support to individuals with psychiatric issues.
- Public Relations: Are courses that focus on the study of communication strategies in business.
- Public Health Nursing: Are courses that focus on the study and support of individuals in a community setting.
- Religion: Are courses that focus on the history, philosophy, and practice of religion.
- Religious Studies: Are courses that focus on the study of religion, its history, and philosophy.
- Sales Management: Are courses related to the management of sales workers in business.
- Veterinary Medicine: Are courses that prepare individuals to provide veterinary care in a veterinary hospital.
- Veterinary Sciences: Are courses related to the treatment and prevention of animal diseases.
- Veterinary Technology: Are courses related to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases in animals.
- Visual Arts: Are courses that focus on the production and critical evaluation of visual art.
- Wildlife Biology: Are courses related to the study of animals in their natural habitat.
- Wildlife Management: Are courses that prepare individuals to protect wildlife habitats and manage animal populations.
- Zoology: Are courses that focus on the study of animal life and their habitats.
Best Majors for Undecided
An undecided student may feel overwhelmed when choosing classes and what they want to do for the rest of their life. Some students do not know what career path they want to take and need time before deciding on what classes to take. An undecided student should take a broad range of classes to expose themselves to various opportunities that may arise in the future. As an undecided student, they can consider courses in the liberal arts and various forms of social science.
While it is hard to pick the best majors for undecided students because they largely depend on the student’s interests and career objectives, here are a few they can consider, listed under various categories:
Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math (STEM)
Computer Science, Math, Physics, Computer Security, Biology, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Geography & Environmental Studies
Arts, Humanities, and Media
Anthropology, Communication (Media Arts, Media Studies, & Digital Filmmaking), English (Literature, Rhetoric & Writing), Interdisciplinary Studies, History, Philosophy, Visual & Performing Arts (Art History, Dance, Film Studies, Music)
Business and Entrepreneurship
Accounting, Finance, Human Resource Management, Marketing, Sport Management, Economics
Society, Human Behavior, and Public Service
Anthropology, Communication, Geography & Environmental Studies, Political Science, Social Work, Sociology
Biology, Exercise Science, Health Science, Social Work, Education and Teaching
Education & Teaching
Elementary Education, Special Education, Communication, Women’s & Ethnic Studies
FAQs about Choosing
What should I major in?
It is nearly impossible to recommend a standard major for students because the choice is highly subjective. Students should consider a few important factors when choosing a major, such as how much time is required to complete the major, its relevance to future career goals, and which courses they will take. They should also consider how difficult it might be to find a job in their field of interest upon graduation.
How many majors can you have in college?
In most universities in the U.S, students are allowed to choose two majors. Some exceptional ones may allow up to three majors under specific conditions. However, the most popular option is to select up to three study fields – two majors and a minor or one major and two minors.
What major is right for me?
The “right” major primarily depends on the student, their interests and passions, career objectives, etc. Some students choose their major based on what they enjoyed in high school, while others look for a program with high employment potential in their chosen field. Therefore, it is hard to recommend a major to any student universally; it is a personal choice, subjective to many factors.
Where can I find information on majors?
All colleges will have a list of majors published on their websites or in the college prospectus. Alternatively, students can reach out to individual departments to speak with faculty members about the majors their department offers and relevant information.
Why choose a college major?
Choosing a college major is an integral part of determining what one wants to do for the rest of one’s life. A college degree can open many career opportunities, and the right major can help with finding a job after graduation and establishing a successful career.
What is the purpose of a college major?
A college major has several purposes. Primarily, it is designed to provide students with a better understanding of their field of study. It is also meant to round out general education requirements and help students prepare for their future careers.
Additional Resources about
Choosing a Major
For those who are still vexed with the questions “what should I major in”, they should explore the official website of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This website details thousands of professionals individually, by group, by sector, and other criteria, complete with job outlook, pay, work environment, state & area-wise data, and more. The BLS is perhaps one of the best places to explore and discover what major/s suits one the most.