The Catholic University of America

Choosing a Major
Things to think about as you decide
 
As you go through the process of choosing and situating yourself within a major, you should be in close contact with your advisors in order to learn more about the opportunities and requirements within each program. Below are some things to think about as you begin or continue the process of choosing a major.
 
How do I begin choosing a major?
Consider your interests. The content of your major field should be interesting to you, since you will be taking a significant number of courses in this area. If you are interested in various different areas, try to take courses in each of those subjects and talk to your professors and advisors about what a major in that field involves.  
Think about your talents. While all of your classes should be challenging, your major field is often one in which you are a strong performer. Most students find that their talents and interests point them in the same direction. As you are considering your choice of major, think about what your strengths are and how each major would help you to develop these strengths.
 
How do I declare or change my major?
During the summer before your first year at CUA, contact the Office of Admissions to change your major. Once you have started classes, contact either a major advisor or your undergraduate advisor to walk you through the process.
 
When do I need to declare my major?
You must declare your major no later than the end of sophomore year. Some majors need to be declared earlier than others to avoid falling behind or graduating late. If you are interested in a major in one of the professional schools or the natural sciences—such as Architecture, Engineering, Music, Biology or Chemistry (or related majors)—it is best to start at the beginning of your freshman year.
Other majors, such as those in the humanities or social sciences—disciplines like Anthropology, English, History, Philosophy, Psychology or Sociology—allow more time for exploration. If you have questions about a particular major, get in touch with the major advisor in that department or with your undergraduate advisor.
 
Should I be thinking about my major and my career?
The road from a major to a career is not always as straight as students tend to think. Still, it is important to keep your career goals in mind as you select a major. While these goals might change as you go through college, they can be a great starting point. Talk to your advisors about which majors would be best to help you reach your goals and lead you into your preferred career field, and keep in mind that what you do outside of your major can also help you prepare for a career.
 
What is the relationship between my major and my future career?
Although some majors lead toward a specific career, this is often not the case: many majors prepare you for a wide range of opportunities, and many people find themselves working in fields that seem totally unconnected to the subject matter they studied in college. Your major might help you to develop universally-applicable job skills such as critical thinking, public speaking, or effective writing. Consult your advisors about how your career interests should inform your choice of a major.
 
What if I’m already in a major and I have doubts? 
Before you make any changes, think about the reasons you are doubting your major. Do you feel like it’s not a good fit for your talents and interests? Do you think you are more interested in another field of study? Thinking about your reasons will help you and your advisor to choose the best path for you. 
As you are considering this change, talk to your advisors about your doubts and discuss your concerns with them. If you have another major in mind, it might also be helpful to schedule a meeting with the advisor in that department to learn more about the opportunities and requirements it involves. Keep in mind that you don’t need to panic if you feel uncertain about your major. Your advisors will help you to make an informed decision.
 
What if I take a course in my major area that I really don't like?
It is important for you to be interested in the content of courses in your major, but it is also true that every class will be different. You shouldn't give up on a major because of only one class, especially if you are just beginning your college career. Talk with your professors and advisors about how that class relates to your major as a whole, and think about taking another course that will help you to learn more about the major.
 
I'm taking a class that I really love -- should I declare it as my major?
Thinking about classes that you love is an excellent place to start, but choosing a major is not exactly the same as choosing your favorite academic subject. You also need to consider other aspects: What modes of thinking does this field involve? What activities are associated with it? What types of thought do you find interesting? What kinds of questions intrigue you? Talking with the professor in a class you really like can be a great way to find out more about the field and to move toward deciding whether it's the right major for you.
 
What if I still can't decide on a major?
CUA students need to have a declared major by the end of sophomore year. In the meantime, if you are still uncertain, you can declare an Exploratory major and work with your advisors to consider possible majors and construct schedules that will help you to make the decision.
 
What else should I be doing?
Talk with your advisors, and with professors and students in the majors you are considering. Look for opportunities throughout the semester -- such as speakers, career fairs, or events related to choosing a major -- that may give you additional information and food for thought. Consider looking into the class visitation program if you want to experience some additional courses in a potential major.