Guide to Selecting a Major

Step 1

Take the JVIS

The JVIS is an excellent resource for helping you choose a major that best suits your interests. If you haven't taken the JVIS yet, follow this link.

Step 2

Look at the section of your JVIS report labeled Similarity to College Students

This section provides information about how your career interest scores compare with college students majoring in different areas.

Step 3

Look at your top three University Major Clusters

These clusters represent broad areas of academic interest. A number of sample majors have been generated that correspond to each cluster. Sample majors are specific majors that relate to these more general clusters. For example, Environmental Resource Management is a university major cluster which examines issues associated with the management and sustainability of the environment. Within this cluster are sample majors, such as Wildlife Technology which specifically examines the techniques of wildlife management.

Step 4

Examine the Sample Majors

Click on the name of each sample major to find out more about it. Do this for the sample majors in each of your 4 top clusters. Now select the most interesting majors from across your top 4 clusters.

Step 5

Consider majors that aren't listed

These will include the majors that you've been thinking about, and ones that have been suggested to you by friends or family. Be sure to gather some information on each of them either through independent research, or by checking our Descriptions of Majors page.

Step 6

Create a short list of sample majors by elimination

Review the definitions of the majors you've selected and eliminate the majors that are less desirable, until you've created a short list of about 5 majors.

Thinking about the type of career you'd like to pursue will not only help you generate your short-list of majors, but will also help you decide what majors you're NOT interested in. Keep in mind that a number of different majors will be compatible with your career interests; however, some majors are designed to lead into a specific career or occupation (e.g. pre-med or pre-law).

Step 7


Collect enough information on your short list of sample majors, until you feel comfortable deciding on one.

  1. Consult your university calendar and consider the following
    • What types of courses are associated with each of these majors?
    • Do the courses interest you?
    • Do you have the necessary ability to perform well in these courses?
    • Have you taken similar courses before? Did you enjoy them?
  2. Find out what other resources are offered by your local university
    • Major fairs: Some universities provide prospective students with opportunities to learn more about different majors and programs they offer by hosting major fairs. This is an excellent chance to talk with people from the departments that offer the majors on your short list discuss whether the required course work is a good fit with your interests and abilities.
    • Orientations offered by different university departments: If you're interested in pursuing a job as a geologist, find out whether the geology department at your local university provides orientations for prospective students.
    • Visit the departments you are considering: Ask for any information packets that they might have for prospective majors. Talk with current students who have selected the major you are considering and perhaps sit in on a few classes to help you determine what a particular major may entail.
    • Remember if you are unable to decide between two areas of interest many schools offer students the opportunity to graduate with a double major.
  3. Talk with other people who are knowledgeable about your interests and abilities.
    • Counselors: Your high school counselor is likely in a good position to help you think about what majors might be best for you given your interests and record of academic performance.
    • Family and friends: When it comes to choosing a major, discussions with people who are close to you can help to clarify your thinking. Talking through the pros and cons of pursing different majors can provide new insights and help to clarify the direction that's best for you.
  4. Volunteer for an organization or corporation that is related to the university major you think you may be interested in. For example, if you are interested in science or premedicine you could volunteer at your local hospital. Getting a hands on feel may tell you if it is worth pursuing a degree in that area. This will also give you the opportunity to determine whether or not you'll enjoy your career after your schooling is completed.