By Kimberly Ayala, Director of Undecided/Undeclared Advising, UC Irvine

A MAJOR is a field of study which represents your principle academic interest.

A MINOR is a secondary area of academic interest, usually with half as many requirements.

Prerequisite

A course that must be taken prior to enrollment in another course.

You may select your university major at the time you fill out your university application, if you know what you want to study.

You may also apply to universities as an undeclared student if you don’t know what you want to study or if you want to explore your options. If you want to take new and exciting classes that you’ve never taken before, then entering the university as an undeclared major may be right for you!

Something to keep in mind is that many students change their major, add a double major or select a minor and that’s OK too. Many universities require that you declared a major by the time you reach junior standing or earlier depending on your major. When considering possible majors, students should keep in mind that some major programs require quite specific preliminary study.

  1. Explore your options. Prior to applying to colleges, be ready to do some homework and learn what majors are available at the campuses you’re considering attending. Not all majors are available at all universities, so plan carefully. Every university publishes a catalogue. This could be a hard copy book that you may have to purchase and/or the catalogue will be online. This publication has a wealth of information designed just for you! For example, you might find a section describing the majors available at that university and the requirements needed to graduate. In addition, you may also find information on preparation to graduate or professional study and career options as well.
  2. Find out about prerequisites. In preparation for choosing a major, find specific information about academic majors and programs available and their prerequisites and requirements to graduate. There may be prerequisites you need to satisfy prior to declaring a major. One example is if you major in music or dance, you will need to audition and be selected.
  3. Try it out. Once you find an area of study that sounds interesting, take a class or two to confirm your choice. There are many majors that lead directly (e.g., nursing, engineering and accounting) while other majors like history, sociology, and English can lead to a variety of careers. In all majors, you will learn to think critically, problem solve, do research and express yourself in writing and public speaking. For these reasons, it is desirable for students to plan their programs carefully and thoughtful, seeking a balance between exposure to a variety of academic areas and completion of courses which are required to be admitted into the major you’re considering.
  4. Declare it. Declaring your major is usually an easy process, but check with your academic counselor for specific details.
  5. Double down. What if you’re interested in more than one major? A qualified student interested in two areas of study may graduate with a double major by fulfilling the degree requirements of any two programs. Certain restrictions may apply; check with an academic advisor at the university you’re interested in attending.

As with everything, careful planning is the key to college success!

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