How Long Do You Have to Choose a Major?

choose-a-majorTo many prospective students, the idea of enrolling in a college or university without declaring a major can be discouraging for a number of reasons. But the truth is applying as an undeclared major may open you up to new academic possibilities—and there is plenty of time to decide on a career path. In fact, many undergraduate programs encourage an exploratory approach to learning, and as a result students are discovering new interests.

How does an undeclared major work?

For students in the process of choosing a major, it’s important to do a little preliminary research before you apply to the college or university you are considering. While many schools promote self-discovery through an undeclared major, some schools would prefer for you to have a focus in order to be considered among hundreds—if not thousands—of other prospective students. Fortunately, students applying to the University of Vermont who are leaning toward the undeclared major can relax. In most cases, undergraduate students will not have to select a specific major until the end of their first or second year.

Before you choose a major, find the best fit—for you

Selecting one major out of a huge number of options is no easy feat. Just ask NPR‘s Martha O’Connell, who wrote, “Very few high-school students have enough information or experience to choose a major. You need the variety and depth of college coursework to determine your interest and aptitude. Most college students change their minds two or three times before they settle on a major, and they can still graduate in four years! Being undecided is a good thing and will leave you open to more academic experiences.”

Still, students are encouraged by admissions officers to take advantage of university career-services departments. There, students can discuss their academic interests, potential career paths and any other topics pertaining to the future. This may help to alleviate the challenging process of selecting a major or offer some guidance once you have experienced the undeclared program for a few semesters.

Changing majors

Changing majors is very common, and, in most cases, easily accommodated. However, this decision will likely be dependent on the student’s academic standing and if there is availability within the desired program. In most cases, students will still have the ability to graduate in four years.

At the same time, be sure to explore the full course listing before investing in a program to ensure that it aligns with your goals and skills. For example, while the environmental-engineering program may sound appealing for those passionate a multidisciplinary field that addresses natural resources, it’s important to review all academic requirements before investing your time and energy in the program.

For more on the undeclared major, check out one of our recent articles: Is It Really So Bad to Have an Undecided Major?