Choosing a Major
Does my Major Matter?
Choosing a major is an important factor in determining your career. Majors offer focus and structure to your academic experience, as well as interesting courses, research opportunities, and experiential learning such as internships, teaching assistantships, and more.
However, your undergraduate major does not have to directly lead into your future career path in a straight line. There are many factors that can influence that path, and your major is just one of those influences. The experiences you choose, the skills you build, the people you meet, and the places you travel can all impact your career. Take your choice of major seriously, but remember to seek out and consider those other opportunities as well!
Use the resources below to research, review, and discover the variety of majors, minors, and preprofessional programs available to you.
First, Know Yourself
Finding a major that aligns with your interests will result in greater career satisfaction. Consider taking the EPICS Interest Explorer to learn more about your interests and connect them to majors at Illinois.
This tool takes proven career theory research and applies it to the choice of majors that are available at the University of Illinois to help students like you pick majors that will feel like the right fit. It's a short, online quiz that you can take on your own. If you'd like to talk about your results, you can also choose to download them at the end and bring them to an academic advising or career coaching appointment.
It's kind of like those quizzes that find out which cartoon character is your soulmate, or which dessert you should eat. Except this one is based on real research, and it can actually help you choose a major that means something to you.
Know Your Options
To make a choice, you have to know your options. Use the Major Handbook on the Division of General Studies website to explore all the possibilities. Read about each major, its introductory courses, concentrations, common career skills and job titles, and related Registered Student Organizations.
Pay attention to the Intercollegiate Transfer (ICT) requirements for the College/School that houses that major program. Some have very strict deadlines and requirements, and all have some form of application process. Don't miss out, get all the information you need to pursue your goals!
I've declared a major, now what?
Congratulations! Selecting a major is an important step. Now, get involved with related RSOs. Seek out leadership opportunities. And research careers that are related to your chosen major.
A helpful resource that can connect careers to majors is a website called "What Can I Do With This Major?" from the University of Tennessee. Browse by category or search for the name of your major to look at a wide variety of careers, the industries that employ them, recommended extracurriculars and necessary skills, and whether you'll need advanced degrees or additional certifications. It's always helpful to plan ahead! Explore that site, and take a look at the next section of our website, Exploring Careers, to find out what else you can do to select the career path that is right for you.
While some majors link directly to specific career fields, most career fields are open to a variety of majors. Utilize these databases from the University Library to learn about industries that interest you and the job titles associated with them.