Declaring a Major
Students may enter the university with a declared major, or with a major status of “undeclared.” The same basic procedure is followed for declaring or changing a major:
1. Visit the department you would like to enter to discuss the requirements needed to graduate, and to get general advice about your choice. You can switch from one major to another, or switch from “undeclared” to a major. In some cases (e.g., if you need to complete required courses before you can enter a new major, or if you would like to explore options that you had not considered earlier) it may be possible for you to change from a major to “undeclared” status. In this case, discuss your intentions with an adviser in Undergraduate Advising (615 Goodell) during drop-in hours.
2. Obtain a “Change of Major Form” from the Registrar’s Office or from Undergraduate Advising.
3. Obtain an acceptance signature from the departmental undergraduate adviser of your new major. If you are seeking to switch from a declared major to “undeclared” status, you must obtain an acceptance signature from Undergraduate Advising.
4. Obtain a release signature from your old department (if you are “undeclared,” obtain a release signature from Undergraduate Advising). Ensure that the white (original) copy is submitted promptly to the Registrar’s Office, so that the change can be processed. If you are changing from one major to another, ask whether your old department will forward the white copy, or whether it is your responsibility. If you are changing from “undeclared” to a major, the Undergraduate Advising Office will send the white form to the Registrar. It is advisable to confirm on SPIRE that the change has been processed.
5. Bring page 3 (pink copy) of the form to your new major department. If you are changing to “undeclared” status, bring the pink copy to Undergraduate Advising.
Restrictions: Because of increased popularity and enrollment, a few majors have found it necessary to restrict entry into the major. The admission processes and criteria are described for each of these in the department’s section in this Guide.
When to Declare Your Major
Many students find that choosing a major takes time. With the help of an academic adviser, you can plan a course of study that enables you to confirm your choice or declare a major before the end of your third semester of enrollment or the completion of 45 semester credits.
Some majors (e.g., Sociology, English, Classics, Judaic Studies, and many others in the Humanities and Social Sciences) have relatively few requirements and allow many opportunities to take electives or pursue a minor or an area of concentration. Other majors (such as Music, Biochemistry or Physics) have many required courses with specific sequences, and prerequisites that should be started in the freshman year. Changing majors late may require additional time at the university, or taking required courses during intersession or summer sessions.
Note: Some departments specify certain times in a semester for entering the major.
If you are not certain about a major, you are well advised to try courses in different departments to find out what interests you. You should familiarize yourself with various departments, the faculty, the specialties, and the course offerings before making a decision.
An academic adviser can help you determine the best options. In some cases, courses are available that can be applied to several majors or to General Education requirements. For example, a student who is inclined toward the sciences but is not sure about which field should take introductory chemistry and calculus courses. Not only are these required for about twenty different majors in the sciences and engineering, but a student’s level of achievement and enjoyment in these courses might help him or her decide on an academic direction. Even if some of the courses turn out to be irrelevant to the eventual major, they will still count toward the 120 credits needed for graduation.
Enriching a regular bachelor’s degree with carefully chosen electives from other areas is a good way to increase skills and help you become more competitive in the job market. For example, for students who want to be social workers, a B.A. in Sociology may be supplemented with courses in public health, nutrition, community service or a foreign language to better prepare them for social work in an urban area.