Major Exploration Guide

How and When Do I Declare a Major?

Q: How do I declare a major?

How to declare depends on the major. Under each advising contact you can find out how, when, and where to declare. Some majors simply require that you meet with an advisor; other majors have information sessions (either online or in-person). Some majors have deadlines for applications; some require written materials or portfolios. It is essential to investigate how and when to declare a major of interest early in the major exploration process to avoid missing critical deadlines. This information can be found at the Advising Resource Center website (find the major you’re considering and click “Declaring a Major” or, if this link is absent, the department website).


Q: I’m a sophomore and don’t have a major yet. Can I still graduate in four years?

Whether or not students graduate in four years has a lot more to do with how many units they take each semester than on their major, at least in the first few years of school. To finish in four, students need to average 30 units per year. Since most majors require 30-45 units, most can be completed in two years or even less. Units can also be completed during the winter and summer if you need to “catch up” on your total units.

A central consideration is course sequencing: if there are core courses that need to be completed before you can progress in the major, finding out what those courses are and taking them before your junior year may be important.


Q: When is the latest that I can declare a major?

The UA requires students to declare a major by the completion of 60 units. If you are undecided within the Colleges of Letters, Arts and Science and have completed 60 units, you will be moved into the Bachelor of General Studies degree program.


Q: I think I know which major I want to declare, but I’m just not positive. What do you recommend?

The best person to talk to under these circumstances is the Academic Advisor for the major you’re considering. He or she is in the best position to answer any questions you have about the major.

Of particular importance is course availability. Since some majors restrict courses to declared majors or minors, declaring is sometimes the only way to see if you like the curriculum. Therefore, you should consider declaring not because you’re 100% convinced that a major is the right one for you, but simply to find out if it is the right one. Remember, people change their majors all the time, so committing for the purpose of exploring the major is a good strategy; you can always change your mind later.


Q: I'm worried about taking courses that don't count for anything if I declare a major and then change my mind. Should I wait to declare?

Remember, all students need 120 units to graduate. These units are comprised of a major, a minor (optional for some majors), general education (required for all majors), and electives. Electives are courses that help you reach 120 units but don't necessarily fulfill any specific degree requirements. If you take a course in a discipline to explore that option and love it, you’ve completed a course toward your major! If you like it, the course may work toward a minor. If it’s not what you expected, then it still counts as elective credit, which is usually needed to reach 120 units anyway. Therefore, a course will always count for something; don’t be afraid to declare a major or try a class because you’re afraid it won’t count for anything.


Q: My GPA is not great. Can I still declare a major or do I have to wait?

Most majors require that students be in good academic standing (GPA of 2.0 or above) to declare. Some majors require more than a 2.0, and a few allow you to declare even if you are on probation (GPA less than 2.0). Contact department advisors to find out more.

Knowing the GPA requirements and whether or not there are application requirements above a minimum GPA is critical to your major exploration process. This knowledge helps you narrow down your choices to what you can realistically declare.

NEXT: Additional Resources for Major Exploration

Major Exploration