Declaring Your Major

Learn about deadlines, restrictions and steps to declaring your college major and minor.

Before you even step foot on campus you’ll likely be faced with the question, "What's your major?" While some students may know what they plan to study during college, others will be at a loss. In either case there’s plenty of time to figure it all out.

What Should I Major In?

A major is a group of classes that focus on a particular academic field. A student should major in a subject that he is especially interested in and wishes to explore thoroughly.

Be sure to pay attention to deadlines when declaring your major.

Majors are grouped around academic subjects like English, math and science. Other majors may be interdisciplinary and draw from several subjects, such as biology/chemistry or American studies.

While choosing a major may take some thinking, your decision will not lock you into one career path forever. Many people have majored in subjects that were totally unrelated to what they chose as a career. Actress Teri Hatcher, for example, majored in mathematics and engineering, and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall was a dentistry major.


If you’re interested in more than one subject, you can choose to double major or add a minor. A double major is just what it sounds like; you select two majors to pursue throughout your academic career. A minor is a supplementary major, requiring fewer hours than a standard major does.

How to Declare a Major/Minor

The overall procedure for declaring a major and minor is similar at all colleges, with slight variations. Check with your campus registrar to find out what sorts of procedures your school employs.

As an example, students at the University of Virginia use these steps when declaring a major:

  • Review major requirements. If you are a transfer student, be sure to look at the transfer guidelines as well, as some information may be slightly different.
  • Pick up a Declaration of Major form from the registrar's office.
  • Schedule an appointment for the department in which you want to declare your major.
  • Return the signed form by the noted deadline.

Declaring Your Major: Tips and Tactics

  • Be sure to pay attention to deadlines when declaring your major. In general, students must choose a major by the end of their sophomore year. If you don’t pick a major, you may lose your enrollment.
  • Deadlines differ for transfer students so be sure you look at the deadlines that concern you.
  • Making an appointment with a department may take time, so schedule an appointment in advance.
  • Remember that you can always change your major after declaring it, so don’t put to much pressure on your first choice.


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