When Is It Necessary to Declare a Major?

Declaring a major is part of the college experience. You will need to know what you are majoring in before you complete your college career. However, if you’re undecided, don’t worry – you have some time to make that life altering decision. The question is, how much time do you really have? You’ll have to find out if you are undeclared or if you have a hard time making decisions. The time to make the final decision will come before you know it and you’ll find yourself short changed if you miss the deadline.

Freshman Year

Freshman year is the first year of college. It is the time when students adjust to being away from home, learn what it means to attend school and what they have to do to succeed in college. The first term will be filled with courses such as “Campus Safety” and “Freshman Course”. Declaring a major is not a priority for students studying Liberal Arts or for undeclared students. Freshman year is also a time for general college courses, such as English and Math basics. Many students who will eventually study different majors can be found in the same classes at this time.

Sophomore Year

This is the second year of college, and it extends freshman year, then introduces the students to the junior year. Students are finishing their basic courses as well as taking some courses focused more on a major. Any students who are undecided in their major can begin researching classes they feel they might enjoy. Sophomore year is a big turning stone in the college timeline, because students need to have a major decided by the end of this year. It is necessary to declare a major by the end of sophomore year. Some students will audit a class, which means they will sit in on a class to find out if they would enjoy that major.

Junior Year

Students who have not declared a major can still enter their junior year, but classes at this level are much more focused on the major itself. Some people who were in the freshman and sophomore classes together may never have a class together again, if they are in separate majors. Engineering students will go to the school of engineering while English students will spend more time in the arts departments. If a student has not declared a major at this time, he or she will continue to study Liberal Arts until a major is declared. Most students have declared a major at this time. While a student can stay in school with no declared major, it quickly becomes clear that a major creates a more focused junior year.

Senior Year

The senior year is the most focused year, typically. Students will have externships, internships, focused learning, hands-on experience and specific industry training in their senior year. Students with a focused major will benefit the most from senior year because they will gain marketable experience that can be used in a job search. Anyone who has not declared a major at this time are categorized as “Liberal Arts” majors and can graduate with a degree. However, there are fewer opportunities to gain real world experience, and the marketable skills of a student who does not declare a major are far lower than the competition.

It is necessary to declare a major by the students’ junior year if the college is going to offer students the most it has to offer. However, students can graduate without no declared major. It is always recommended to have a declared major by junior year.