How To Change Your College Major In The U.S
7 Mins

How To Change Your College Major In The U.S

7 Mins
Uploaded on
Sep 12, 2022
Last updated on
Feb 11, 2023
Uploaded on
Sep 12, 2022
Last updated on
Feb 11, 2023
Changing Your Major In US
Some changes aren’t that scary after-all!

Picking a college major is a tricky task. Anyone would be overwhelmed by the sheer number of majors offered at a university, let alone the typical 18-year-old entering student. In the US, your major (or study programme) dictates the classes you attend, the academic requirements for graduation, and most crucially, your career future. But what happens if you are unhappy with your major? We’d say fear not because many US universities and colleges allow you to change your major! Here's all you need to know to change your major.

Can You Change Majors In college?

College students can change their majors in many cases. They decide to do this when their interests change or when they are not satisfied with their current major. Some students also choose to switch majors for a more fulfilling career path. To determine if this is the right choice for your college education, it is important to understand why you are considering changing your major. Before making the change, it is important to check with your advisor to determine if you can change your major. Keep in mind that different departments have different admissions and transfer requirements, and financial aid could be affected as well.

When Is The Best Time To Switch Your Major?

While in school, you can typically switch your college major at any time. However, it is important to consider the drawbacks before making the decision, particularly if you decide to change majors later on. This can lead to additional time in college, leading to higher college costs such as extra tuition. Before taking any steps to switch your college major, make sure to weigh the potential drawbacks.

Why Change Majors?

Choosing a more appropriate field of study can be the best thing you've ever done, whether you're a transfer student, a new freshman, or a student who is almost in their senior year. By changing your major, you can find your most authentic self and a more fulfilling career.

1. You chose your initial major too quickly.

You might decide on a major based on recommendations from friends and family members, or you might be committed to one major that you first believed would be a good fit. However, after arriving on campus and enrolling in a few classes, you might realise that your intended major is unsuitable for you and that you are now keen to explore other academic fields.

2. You are not performing well in class.

It may be a sign that you do not like the subject if you are not driven by the courses required for your major. Your degree should have a major that interests you and motivates you to keep learning, which will show in your grades. It could be time to switch to a major that better suits your potential and skills if you don't feel this way about it and your grades are slipping.

3. You chose your major based only on your future earning potential.

Many students choose majors with high prospective incomes because they want to pursue lucrative careers after graduation. Aptitude and passion are crucial considerations while picking a major and potential earnings. If your primary motivation for continuing your degree is to increase your financial stability, you should consider other career options.

4. Your financial situation has changed.

Changes in student financial circumstances sometimes require rethinking your chosen degree since it may be pricey, provide few job chances upon graduation, or both. Changing your major can allow you to pursue a less expensive and/or more lucrative degree while still graduating with the credentials you need to start your career.

Changing your major in US
Changing your major in the US

When Can You Switch Majors?

In the majority of US schools and universities, you have the option to change your major during your first year of study. This is a great opportunity for you to try out different courses and find the field that suits you, as your first year is typically spent exploring various subjects through general education courses and becoming familiar with campus life. Some universities also allow you to switch majors during your second year. 

However, it's less common and US higher education institutions usually have strict rules against changing your major in your third year, as by this time you are supposed to be focusing on specialised courses for your field of study. To ensure that you meet any potential deadlines and to avoid taking extra or unnecessary classes, it's important to speak with your university counsellor. The sooner you can change your major, the better for your chances of graduating on time and for saving money.

How To Change Your Major?

It is important to remember that each US university and college has its unique requirements for changing your major. Some might require you to fill out an online application through a website, while others might need approval from a particular university department with its own documentation. You may also be required to meet certain criteria, such as a minimum/maximum number of credits earned.

When considering changing your major, it is important to have a plan in place. The process of switching your college major is not difficult, but it is important to take certain steps to ensure you are making the best decision for yourself. The following steps can help guide you through the process of changing your college major.

1. Explore Available Majors

To begin the process of changing your major, take a look into the available majors at your school. If you already have an idea of which major you want to switch to based on your interests and career goals, that's great. However, some students may be unsure about which major to change to. If this is the case, take the time to explore the different majors offered at your school. You may discover you have a strong interest in a specific major or that you are interested in more than one. To make a decision, seek guidance.

Wondering which majors to choose? Check out our A Student's Guide to STEM Majors and 10 Best Majors For The Future 2023!

2. Speak with an Academic Advisor

To determine which major best suits your goals and interests, speak with an academic advisor. They can provide advice and information on any majors you are considering. For example, you might talk to an advisor about switching to a health or business-related major, depending on your career aspirations. When speaking with an academic advisor, make sure to find out as much as possible about the major you want to switch to. If you are interested in more than one, your academic advisor can help you make a decision.

3. Be Aware of the Requirements for a New Major

When switching majors, it's important to be aware of the requirements for the new major. Depending on the major you are switching to, you may need to meet a new set of requirements. This is usually the case if you plan to major in a completely different field, such as changing from education to health. However, if your new major is in the same area as your current one, you may only have a few new requirements to meet.

4. Enrol in Classes that Count Toward a New Major

When you have determined which major you want to switch to, select classes that count towards that major. You may have taken courses that count towards it already, thus avoiding spending extra time earning your degree. However, if you are changing to a major in a different field, you may have to start over with taking classes towards this new major. This may result in needing to take an extra semester to graduate. This not only requires extra time, but it also costs extra tuition money.

Things To Consider Before Switching Majors

Firstly you need to know that F-1 students are permitted to change their majors. Regulations in the United States don't call for government approval to modify or introduce academic majors. However, J-1 students are not allowed to change academic majors.

1. Prepare early

Considering your choices early in your studies is crucial because changing your major is ideal in your first or second year.

2. Speak with an adviser

You don't have to go through this process by yourself. You can discover more about your possibilities for changing your major at your university by speaking with an academic advisor. They can also assist you in narrowing down your declared major and exploring a wide range of choices.

3. Research your major choices

There can be certain activities or enrollment requirements for some majors. Make sure you thoroughly research each major to ensure that you are qualified and are ready for it (or will be able to qualify).

4. Run the Numbers 

Compared to your current course of study, some majors may offer higher or reduced university fees. Work with your advisor and the institution to better understand your financial duties and control expenses.

5. Lastly, do not panic!

Figuring out your future can take time. Around 1 in 3 college students change majors on their way to earning a bachelor's degree, and 1 in 10 undergrads change their major more than once. There are around 17 million undergraduate students in the U.S., meaning millions of them switch majors yearly. It is entirely OK and possible to switch majors to one that genuinely interests you.

Compared to your current course of study, some majors may offer higher or reduced university fees. Work with your advisor and the institution to better understand your financial duties and control expenses.

Frequently Asked Questions