Explore A Major

There are LOTS of things you can do to explore a major and see whether it feels right for you. Your Academic Advising Director or AARC Advisor is always happy to talk through this decision with you as well.

  • Browse the ExploreMajors site to see what's out there.
  • Take an introductory class. IntroSems are great but not the only option.
  • Enroll in a 1-2 unit lecture series class.
  • Browse the entire Subject prefix in Explore Courses to see if the range of classes offered interests you. (Tip: introductory classes will generally be closer to the beginning of the list for each department.)
  • Talk to the student advisors/peer advisors in that department.
  • Browse the faculty profiles on the department website to see if the range of topics and approaches in that major interests you.
  • Meet the Student Services Officer in the department—they are a great starting point for any questions and you can usually walk right into the main department office to find them.
  • Get on the department’s interest or pre-major or events email list (also check out the physical bulletin boards near the department main office).
  • Attend a pre-major luncheon, dinner, or info session.
  • Attend a research talk in the department.
  • Visit office hours for a professor whose research interests you, and ask them to recommend a book or if you can see their lab. Or ask them how they decided to commit to that field.
  • Read some nonfiction bestsellers written for a general audience in that field. Then read scholarly reactions to them. (Ask a librarian how to find these)
  • Read some research published by faculty you’d like to work with.
  • Read some scholarly “review articles” in the field. (“Review articles” generally give a sense of the state of current research on a particular issue. Ask a librarian how to find these)
  • Do “informational interviews” with alumni in that major. (BEAM can give you tips on finding alumni and setting these up; Handshake has suggestions on how to conduct them.)
  • Find out what advanced students are doing in the major. Places to look: SURPS and ASURPS. Some departments share thesis abstracts or presentation videos on their website, or ask the SSO/peer advisors if you can see examples of past theses. If you are on campus in August or so, most science/engineering departments will finish by having their students do a poster session—go to it. Ask advanced students what the upper-division classes are like.
  • If a particular major is sounding good, make a couple of four-year plans, checking the required courses, reading all the course descriptions  so you can pick your electives, paying attention to prerequisites and what quarter courses are offered. Consider whether you like the vision it offers.