Categories: Guides by Industry & MajorCollege Majors and Minors

What is a College Major?

Whether you’re just starting your freshman year of college or even if you’re a rising junior, it’s important to understand the ins and outs of a college major. Choosing a major is one of the most important decisions you’ll have to make during your college career, so it’s extra crucial that you weigh your options and choose the area of study that will benefit you the most.

Here are some things you need to know about college majors.

What is a college major?

A college major is a group of specialized courses students are required to take in order to obtain a college degree. A major usually consists of mandatory core courses and elective courses, totaling between 10-12 classes altogether. For example, if you decide to become an English major, you will be required to take core classes in classic British and American literature. Once you’ve successfully passed those, you’ll be able to take electives such as creative writing or contemporary literature.

How do you decide on a major?

Whether you already have a major in mind or you really don’t know which direction to go in, the first step to picking a major is signing up for courses that interest you and seeing how you feel about them. You should also reach out to other students who are already majoring in those subjects and ask them questions about the classes, professors and their general experience.

Finally, be sure to try a variety of different classes during your freshman and sophomore years since this is the only way you can truly discover which subject is most interesting to you.

What if you want to do more than one major?

Depending on your school, you may have the option to double major, have a major and a minor, or even make up your own major (these are usually called concentrations). Each college has their own rules and your academic advisor can walk you through your options to help you make the right choice.

If you are attending a four-year university, you will likely have to select your major by the end of your sophomore year. That means you will have four semesters to decide which area of study suits you best. Once you do decide on a major, you don’t need to worry if it ends up not working out. You can still change your major after that, but it’s better to do it sooner rather than later so you can still have time to complete all the courses required, and you won’t have to stay an extra semester.

Oftentimes, students wonder if their major will dictate their choice of career. In some cases, with specific majors like engineering or nursing, those subjects will translate into a related career. But, if you are studying a subject that has multiple applications, there’s no telling what type of profession you’ll end up with — it’s all up to you.

Pro Tip: Even if you’ve chosen a specific major and you decide you don’t really want a career in that specific field after graduation, that’s okay too. It’s never too late to choose a new direction.

Choosing a college major may seem overwhelming at first, but it’s really an exciting time for you to expand your knowledge and dig deeper into a subject you are passionate about. By trying out different courses and asking your friends, family, and academic professionals for guidance, you’ll be on your way to choosing your major in no time.

Next, learn more about this college major such as Finance and get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as Getting an Entry-Level Job with No Experience.


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