Career Exploration

8 Steps to Choosing a Major or Program

Whether you are getting ready to start your first semester of college or you've already completed a few semesters, it is okay if you don't know exactly which major or program you want to be in.

The following steps will help you evaluate everything from earning potential to personal ethics, so you can choose a major or program that gives you the best personal and professional return-on-investment. After all, education is an investment in yourself, and your future self will thank you!

Assess yourself. Complete career assessments to quickly see how your passions and skills match with available career pathways, then connect with everything you need to get there.

Explore the possibilities. After completing your assessments, make an appointment with a career navigator to go over your results here.

While exploring, make sure to think about:

  • How much education is needed for your career
  • Typical task and working conditions
  • Education and training requirements
  • Salary information
  • Future job outlook

Additional Resources:

Prepare to succeed. Select a major that will develop the skills needed in the employment field of your interest. Some occupations, such as nursing, require a specific major while many others do not. Studies have shown that students who are passionate and excited about their chosen major are more likely to complete a degree. You can meet with an academic advisor to get you started on your academic journey now! Visit the advisement page to set an appointment.

Make a decision. Here’s how to approach it:

  • Review the careers and/or majors that you researched
  • Are they compatible with your interests, skill, and values?
  • Make a list of pros and cons for each option.
  • Explore the numerous websites that provide detailed career information.
  • Narrow your list to two to three careers/majors.
  • Learn about specific requirements for careers/majors.
  • Make your career choice.

Get Experience. Other things you may want to consider are internships, volunteering, service learning, or getting a part-time position related to the field.  This will allow you to begin gaining experience and exposure to the field and help you to solidify your decision in career and/or major choice. Visit our Center for Workforce and Experiential Learning website to learn more about internships, apprenticeships, and service learning opportunities. 

Evaluate your decision. Make sure your choice is both realistic and a good fit for you. Do you feel comfortable with the results? Will this choice fit your lifestyle and responsibilities in 5 years? 10 years?

Stay on target! Set goals to keep yourself on track.

  • Define your goal: I am going to complete a degree in __________________.

  • Create a realistic timeline for finishing your degree (work with your advisor to estimate that date).

  • Schedule activities that will help you achieve, reinforce, and reach your goal. Schedule time with your advisor; apply for and complete an internship to get field experience; and network with others in your major or future career.