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How to Choose a Major

The following is a list of strategies that students can employ to help them with the major/career decision making process:

-Look at a complete list of majors offered at BYU and "mark out" those majors you know you are not interested in. Then take a look at the remaining majors and investigate them further by reviewing the Major Academic Plans (MAPS). Once you have your list narrowed down to 3 to 5 choices you may now benefit by visiting with an advisor in the College Advisement Centers where the major is located.

-Take advantage of the University Core/General Education requirements and select classes that correspond to your interests and majors you would like to investigate.

-You may wish to take a career interest inventory and review the results with an Advisor from the University Advisement Center.

-Things to Consider When Choosing a Major handout.

-Sometimes students find it easier to begin a minor. Perhaps you could begin working on two. At some point one of the minors could be turned into your major.


New first-year students need adequate information about all that a college has to offer, and they need to know the requirements of the different programs of study. Just reading the catalog isn't enough, and for the majority, exposure to a few subjects in high school simply won't serve to introduce or to interpret the college curriculum, which is a smorgasbord of specialization (and, often, of obscurity) by comparison. Before you can make a realistic decision about your major, you must take an informed look at all the possibilities. . .

*Excerpts (for the use of Open Major Advising) from a handout titled "Choosing and Using Your Major" from the Career Planning and Placement Office at the University of Virginia.

Additional Major & Career Information

As a student at Brigham Young University there are many resources available to you as you research majors and careers of interest. The following links will direct you to just a few of these resources.

Campus Offices:

University Career Services

Individual College Advisement Centers

Web-Based Resources:

Major Academic Plans

College Advisement Centers

Major Fair

The Occupational Outlook Handbook

Career One Stop

Take a Student Development Course

    University Advisement Center (UAC)
    2500 WSC — 422-3826

    • Meet Often with an UAC Advisor — UAC Advisors are available to meet with you as often as you like to help you choose a major or career. We are open weekdays from 8:00 – 5:00 except for Tuesdays when closed for devotional. You can call or walk in to schedule an appointment.
    • Obtain a List of BYU Majors — Circle those that interest you and cross out those that don’t. Lists of majors are available in the University Advisement Center.
    • Investigate the Majors that Interest You — Look at the courses that are required for the program. Are you excited about them? Do you think they will help you in your life and in your career?
    • Take a Career Exploration Class — Student Development (StDev) 117 Career Exploration is a two-credit hour course designed to help students choose majors and careers. You will be spending time anyway trying to make these decisions — why not receive college credit for it too?
    • Choose Your University Core Requirements Carefully — Your UAC Advisor can help you select courses that will help you learn about majors and also fill University Core requirements.
    • Keep Your Options Open — If you are trying to decide between two majors, select courses that are required (or fill University Core requirements) for both.
    • Turn One of Your Options into a Minor — When trying to choose between majors, take courses that will fill major and minor requirements for both. Then when you decide which of the two you want to be your major, your other choice can easily be turned into a minor.
    • Take Introductory or Seminar Courses for the Majors or Careers You are Considering — BYU has seminar courses for pre-medicine, pre-dentistry, preoptometry, pre-law, and for many of the engineering programs. Many majors also have introductory courses such as Introduction to the English Major (Engl 195), Historian’s Craft (Hist 200), and Introduction to International Studies (IAS 100).
    • Find Out about Deadlines, Prerequisites, and Requirements for Applying for Limited Enrollment Majors — Some majors have limited enrollment and only accept a certain number of students each year or semester. Find out what these requirements are for the majors that interest you. Take the prerequisite courses and do well in them, so if you decide to apply to a limited enrollment program, you will be prepared.
    • Have a Back-Up Plan — When applying to limited enrollment programs, have a back-up plan in case you are not accepted to the program of your choice. There are often many ways to obtain a goal. UAC Advisors can help you develop alternate plans to achieve your goals.
    • Work with a Plan - Literally! — Part-time work, summer employment, internships, and volunteer work should all be done with a plan. Use these opportunities to investigate areas of interest and to make contacts that will help further your career goals. Even if you are sweeping floors, you can learn much about a work environment, and of course, there are many opportunities for more challenging work if you seek it!
    • Visit the University Career Services (UCS) — The UCS has hundreds of files and books on careers. Want to learn how to be an FBI agent or an airline pilot? The UCS has information to help you!
    • Take a Career Interest Inventory — The UCS has Career Interest Inventories to help you choose majors and careers. Each takes approximately 35 minutes to complete and there is a fee associated with most (two are free). After you complete the test, a UAC academic and career advisor will meet with you in an hour-long individualized appointment to explain the results to you.
    • Explore UCS Online Resources – Helpful information about careers and internships. Free to all current BYU students. Click here.
    • Job Shadow — Thinking about a career but don’t know if you would like it? Try job shadowing. Find someone who has the kind of job you want, and then ask if you can follow them around for a day or longer. Put yourself in his or her place. Do you like what you see?
    • Information Interviewing — Find someone who is already working in the profession you are considering and ask them for an interview. Ask them to tell you about their work assignments, what they like and don’t like about their job. How did they get the job they have? What training is necessary to do what they do?
    • Pre-Professional Advisement — Interested in pre-law, pre-med, pre-dental, or health profession advisement? Visit with an advisor in the Pre-Professional Advisement Center, 3328 WSC, 801-422-3034.