MATHEMATICS UNDERGRADUATE
STUDENT HANDBOOK
Administration

Things to Think about when Deciding on a Major

Every matriculated university student eventually has to choose a major. A major corresponds to a curriculum of courses that must be completed in order to earn a degree in a program of study. This is a decision that should be made very carefully.

Key considerations:

(1) The subject you major in should be one that you are deeply interested in at the levels of upper division coursework.

(2) The subject you major in should be one that you have an excellent intellectual capacity for at its upper division levels of coursework.

(3) Your major should provide you with a path toward gaining a satisfying future career or toward entry to graduate school.

(4) You will not be an undergraduate student forever. Even if you go to graduate school after completing your baccalaureate degree (Bachelor of Science, B.S., or Bachelor of Arts, B.A.), you eventually need a career. Therefore, a fourth issue to give serious thought to is whether your choice of major will help lead you to an occupation that the future job market can sustain. Of course, the future is difficult to predict. Nonetheless, if your career plans are based on a current trend or an industry that is mostly financed by grants (example: government money) rather than self-supporting, you should be seeking opinions now from as many faculty members, advisors, and other professionals as you can on whether the trend or funding source(s) will still be around when you graduate.

Equally important is to have clarity on what careers are possible with the final degree that you intend to earn. For some fields of work, a master’s degree or doctoral degree is essential; for others, an undergraduate degree may provide sufficient classroom education for the career that you aspire to, but an internship completed during your undergraduate years may be essential supplemental preparation.

Finally, be aware that some occupations are specific to geography, and that could influence where you ultimately live. Explore this now, rather than waiting until graduation.

In summary, wisely choose your major. Do not put yourself in a position where you later regret the time and money spent pursuing a degree in an area of study.