Choosing a Major

Choosing a major is one of the most important things you will do at college. This section is designed to help you select a major that will suit your skills, interests and goals as you complete your education and develop career plans.

What is a major and when should I declare a major?

A major consists of a series of courses that exposes you to an in depth study of an academic area. Students must declare majors prior to registering for their junior year by filing a Declaration of Major form with the Records and Registration Office.

The process of choosing a major

You will benefit by using a process to choose a major, even if you think you already know what you want to major in. Many students who began college knowing what they wanted to study, later found they had not explored all their options carefully and had not made good choices. Spending time doing self assessment early in your college career will ultimately save you time and money. Begin by thinking about yourself. Who are you? What are you good at? What interests you? In what subjects do you receive your highest grades? What subjects do you like to study? What would you like to be doing in ten years?

Self-Assessment and Career Exploration

The Career Resource Center offers unique services, programs and resources to assist students in career planning. Experienced counselors are available to assist you throughout each stage of your major and career decision making process. They can help you to identify and match your interests, values, skills and abilities with appropriate careers and majors, and can provide you with relevant career information. You may also take an Interest Inventory which compares interests and skills to numerous career options to further clarify your goals. These are administered and interpreted at Career Resource Center.

After speaking with a counselor and possibly taking an assessment, you may use the SUNY New Paltz Catalog and the "Deciding on a Major" guide in order to identify departments that offer courses that sound interesting to you. Do we have your major? View our list of academic programs. Faculty members within these departments can assist you in exploring the majors that interest you, as well as related careers. Talking to upperclass students, alumni, and employers is another good way of gathering information. Conducting "informational interviews" is a great way to obtain first-hand information such as employment trends, salaries, and work responsibilities about career fields that interest you. The more research that you do, the more prepared you will be to enter into your chosen career field.

What if I am undecided?

If you haven't decided on a major, remember that 60% of students come to college unsure about what they want to major in, and most students change majors at least once during their college careers. You can use your first year and in some cases two years to explore academic areas that interest you before declaring a major. Our curriculum is designed with exploration in mind, so you can take the time that you need in making a decision. Consulting your academic adviser and Career Resource Center will be helpful for undecided students.

How is a major related to a career?

Today's marketplace is constantly changing and changing rapidly. Currently, most adults change careers several times throughout the course of their lives. Therefore, a well-chosen major will prepare you to do well in many occupational areas by giving you the transferrable skills you'll need to succeed. While some jobs call for specific college majors, others do not. If you do enough research and carefully choose your major, the courses you select will give you the skills and knowledge necessary in today's changing workplace.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and Strong Interest Inventory

The Career Resource Center offers you the opportunity to take these two interest inventories which compare your interests to numerous career options. To arrange to take one of these tests, you must first meet with a career counselor who will review test procedures and how the test will assist you with your career development. The test takes about an hour to complete and there is a processing fee of $15.00. It takes about 10 days for the result to be processed, and our office will call you to schedule a follow-up appointment with one of our counselors to review the result of the report.

Learn about the typical career areas and the types of employers that hire people with each major, as well as strategies to make you a more marketable candidate here