What should I major in?

A guide to choosing the right college major for you

How do I choose the right major?

It’s one of the most difficult questions you’ll ask yourself as you prepare for college life, and it’ll have a lasting impact on your university experience and life after graduation.

Whether you’ve narrowed the list down to a few options or you have absolutely no idea what your major should be, there are several factors to consider when you’re making your decision. From business to classical civilization, the University of Cincinnati offers more than 300 majors and programs. Here are four questions to ask yourself when choosing your college major.

  • What major would complement my personality and professional goals?
  • What are the employment rates and salary expectations for the jobs for graduates of the major I’m looking at?
  • What does the program I’m interested offer and is it expensive?  
  • What if I just can’t decide? Can I design my own major?

1. What major would complement my personality and professional goals?

You will likely spend decades of your life working, and it’s important to find a career that will give you joy, fulfillment, financial stability, and meaningful professional experience.

When you’re deciding about your major, you think about not only what interests you, but what career might align with your personality and values. Do you want to make a difference in people’s lives? Do you love to lead and work with others? Is making a significant salary important to you? Take the time to think about your best qualities, what’s most important to you, and what you want your life to look like after college.

If you’re passionate about science, caring for others and impacting lives, studying nursing or exploring a pre-med pathway might be a good fit for you. If the idea of being a corporate leader or marketing savant excites you, exploring a program at the Carl H. Lindner College of Business could be the perfect university experience for you.

2. What are the employment rates and salary expectations for the jobs for graduates of the major I’m looking at?

In an ever-changing economy, it’s imperative to think about your financial future after college. Your major will have a direct impact on what jobs you qualify for after graduation, and employment rates and salary expectations will differ widely from major to major.

For example, college majors that will make the most money after graduation include: computer science, engineering, math and science majors, and business, according to The National Association of Colleges and Employers Winter 2022 Salary Survey Report. If you're motivated by high earnings, pursuing a degree in a STEM-related or business field could be a good fit for you. Some of the majors with the lowest starting salaries include criminal justice, psychology, education, and social work.

However, some of these fields could have higher employment rates than others. If you have questions about your major and prospective careers, you can consult an academic advisor.

3. What does the program I’m interested offer and is it expensive? 

Take the time to research the details of the program you’re interested in, including coursework, faculty, and tuition. UC offers an education that’s both rigorous and relevant — hundreds of academic programs, many nationally ranked, all with opportunities for real-world learning. From study abroad and co-ops to artistic performances and portfolios, you can graduate with transcripts and a resume.

Each major will require different courses and will expose you to a variety of thinkers, faculty, and scholars. Are small class sizes important to you? Do you want the opportunity to learn from renowned scholars and professors? Do you want real-world co-op and internship experience? These are all questions to ask yourself when you’re choosing a program.

Several programs and colleges at UC offer cooperative education experiences, which are career-oriented, transcripted, and compensated. They require academic preparation, faculty mentorship and assessment, and guided student reflection that integrates the experience to student learning goals and their academic curriculum.

4. What if I just can’t decide? Can I design my own major?

If you can’t decide on your major, don’t worry. You don’t have to have it all figured out to get started on your college courses. UC’s Center for Exploratory Studies (CES) provides personalized exploratory advising which helps undecided students find their best-fit career pathways early in their academic career to enable timely graduation. CES is the University of Cincinnati's academic home for students who are undecided, exploring majors, or seeking admission to a competitive UC academic program.  Our professional advisors are uniquely skilled to help students navigate the admission and program requirements for all undergraduate majors offered at UC. An intentional curricular structure ensures that students participate in academic exploration leading to major selection.

UC’s College of Arts and Sciences also offers an exploratory program is designed for students not yet ready to commit to a major and leverages the many resources available at UC to help students make a good choice. Even for those who enter college with a declared major, multiple major changes are common. In many ways, this is as it should be. College is a time for self-discovery and exploration. Truly undecided students should take the opportunity to explore their strengths, academic interests, and talents before committing to a major.

And if you know what you want to do but don’t see a major that exactly fits what you need, you can design your own at UC. The Bachelors of Interdisciplinary Studies is a unique degree program that offers students the opportunity to create their own major. Interdisciplinary Studies students learn from multiple disciplines and gain knowledge, methods, and theories that enhance their individual educational and career goals.

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