How To Find the Right Major in College

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated March 9, 2021 | Published January 22, 2021

Updated March 9, 2021

Published January 22, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Choosing your major is an important step in the college experience, as it will be the focus of your studies. College students can choose from many different major options depending on their interests and professional goals. In this article, we discuss how to find the right major for you.

What is a college major?

A college major is a specific subject that a college student specializes in while working toward a degree in that field. For most college students, up to half of the courses taken during the collegiate experience will focus on the major selected or a related subject. By completing a major in a particular subject and earning the related degree, you are demonstrating your ability to complete high-level and sustained work in that subject.

The importance of finding a college major

Selecting the right college major is an important part of the educational experience, as it will influence the courses you take and the career you can pursue. College students make a choice to pursue a subject they are passionate about and also make sure they learn in-demand skills.

If you place too much emphasis on only one aspect of choosing a college major, such as economic considerations or personal interests, it may be more challenging to find a job. Selecting a major that balances your interests and passions with career opportunities that appeal to you can help you maximize your college experience, take courses that interest you and graduate with an appealing prospective career path.

Related: Choosing a Career Path in 9 Steps

How to choose a major in college

As you consider what major is the best fit for you in college, follow these steps to help you determine what to choose.

1. Consider your abilities

Abilities are the skills you have and what you can generally do. Before you select your major, you can think about the abilities you have and begin eliminating majors that do not align with those particular skills. Applying your abilities can help you excel and feel confident during your educational experience, even when you are learning new things and gaining new knowledge. You will have opportunities to improve your skills and strengthen your abilities, but considering where you excel can help you identify subjects that may be a good fit for you.

2. Make a list of your interests

As you have gone through grade school, you have likely identified areas of interest, including subjects in school and personal interests. Create a list of the things that are of the most interest to you to help you consider majors that might allow you to further pursue those interests. For example, if you have an interest in math, you could consider studying accounting or finance, statistics, physics or engineering.

3. Think about your personal values

Your personal beliefs and values may also factor in what you choose to major in when attending college. Choosing a major that reflects your core values can lead you to a career opportunity that may be more rewarding and fulfilling. For example, if you are passionate about caring for and cleaning up the environment, a career in environmental science could allow you to pursue that passion and adhere to your values.

4. Take a personality assessment

If you are not sure what aspects of your personality may reflect on your career path and future endeavors, consider taking a personality quiz to get a better sense of the traits that make you who you are. One personality quiz commonly used by career and education counselors is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MTBI), which allows takers to determine potential subjects that might align with their personal interests and habits. Examples of personality types from the MTBI include “the champion,” “the teacher,” “the promoter,” “the crafter” and “the architect.” Taking this assessment could help you identify where you might succeed in your future professional pursuits.

Related: Guide: 16 Personality Types

5. Identify potential career paths

In addition to thinking about your values, passions and interests now, it is important to consider the future after you complete your schooling and earn your degree. Before selecting a major, look at the potential career opportunities that would be available to you with a degree in a particular field. Many majors have multiple career options, but you should feel interested in at least some of the opportunities that would be open to you after graduation.

6. Look at the future possibilities

As you consider a major and a career path, think about whether any significant technological shifts could impact the role in the future. Assess what industries and roles are currently being impacted by technological shifts and plan accordingly.

Related: 25 Most Useful Majors To Get Your Degree In

7. Consider economic factors

Although your future earning potential may not be the most important thing when choosing your major, it should be a factor. To be able to support yourself and live the lifestyle you want, make sure your future career choice allows you to meet any expectations you have for your income level and earning potential. Certain majors have a higher earning potential, such as engineering, economics, computer science and business. Other factors that may impact your future financial situation include how many years of school you complete, where you attend college and what career path you plan to follow.

8. Think about your future with a particular degree

It is important to consider your future and how you might feel about certain subjects and interests in the next 10, 20 or 30 years. If you are pursuing a degree based on a specific passion that you have right now, you may not still have the same passion in 20 years. Opening yourself up to a wider range of options by selecting a broader degree could help you avoid this issue in the future. For example, if you have a passion for serving underprivileged children, consider majoring in a medical field that would allow you to do so while also earning a steady income.

9. Discuss options with other people

The people around you can help you identify aspects of your personality and your interests that they see in you, helping you to identify possible majors. Talk to your friends and family about what they see as your passions and strengths. You can also discuss your interests with people who are currently majoring in a subject that is of interest to you or those who have already graduated with degrees.

10. Take a range of courses

You do not have to decide on a major the day you arrive on campus to attend college. Instead, you can take some time to consider your interests and learn more about the offerings available at your school. During your freshman year, take a range of courses on different subjects to learn more about things you may not have studied in high school. You may find that certain topics or professors stand out to you, guiding you to a major that allows you to further pursue certain subjects or take additional courses from the same professors.

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