How to Choose a Major

There are many things you can do to explore possible majors. Some are easier than others, and some may take an hour while others will last an entire quarter. Some methods will work better for you than others.

Whatever you decide to do, we suggest that you:

  • Treat the process like one of your jobs or one of your classes (i.e., “This quarter I’m taking Intro to Law, Composition, Math and Choosing a Major”).
  • Set specific goals. For example, “By the end of this quarter I’ll attend information sessions for my top five majors, try to narrow them to three, and then meet with my Pre-Major Advisor to discuss my plans.”
  • Work with Pre-Major Advisors throughout the process. They can help you recognize and articulate your own interests, help you set goals, and provide a wealth of information.

Review the list of undergraduate majors

Familiarize yourself with all the majors offered at UW Bothell. You’ll likely be able to identify those that you’d like to explore further, and conversely, those that you are not interested in. Narrowing it down to several possible areas of interest is a great first step. Follow the links to the General Catalog for more information about each of these possible majors to review admission and graduation requirements.

Visit departmental websites

Almost every program and department at UW Bothell has its own website which you should be able to find by searching for it (i.e., “UW Bothell health studies“). These sites, all different, will include an introduction to the subject for new students, and will suggest the best way for you to learn more about the majors they offer.

Assess your academic strengths

Many majors at UW Bothell have competitive admission. Are you doing well in coursework required by majors that interest you? Your chances for success at UW Bothell are greatly enhanced if you choose a subject you enjoy and do well in. This is one reason you shouldn’t postpone taking language, math and science courses. It is helpful to discover early on whether you enjoy and do well in these subjects.

Talk with a career counselor

Although majors and careers are not the same thing, career counselors are experienced at helping students explore their passions and interests, which can be useful in both career and academic planning. The Career Center offers all undergraduate students the opportunity to meet one-on-one with their counselors in the Student Success Center on the first floor of UW1.
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Talk with family and friends

People who have known you for many years and who know you well may have some insights they can share with you.

Talk with faculty and students in the major

Perhaps you’re thinking of majoring in an area you’re taking a class in this quarter. Visit your instructor during office hours and ask about his or her interests and background in the discipline. Remember: this person has dedicated his or her life to this subject, to its advancement and its dissemination. That’s pretty powerful. If anyone could give you the bird’s eye view of that major, a faculty member can.

To get the ultimate insider’s view, talk with other students. Find out what drew them to the major, what they hope to do in the future, and what the good opportunities are.
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Participate in internships and research

Sometimes there’s no way to know if you’ll like something until you do it. Check out our annual Internship Fair and Job Fair on-campus to gather leads on jobs and internships in your areas of interest. If you can’t make it, or would like to look at other opportunities, check out Husky Jobs.

The UW brings in more than a billion dollars in research funding each year. Many of these research projects welcome undergraduate research assistants. For many students, participating in the actual research of a discipline can be the spark needed to ignite a passion. To find opportunities, connect with the Office of Undergraduate Research.

Review academic journals

Visit the library and ask a librarian about the top journals in your area of interest. They will direct you to publications that represent the current research in the discipline. Although the language in the journals may be difficult to understand at first, it will give you a sense of things, and even just the titles of the articles may spark your interest.

Attend an academic conference

All academic disciplines have conferences at least once a year. They may be expensive to attend, and they usually aren’t local, but if you have the opportunity to attend one, you should. If nothing else, it’s a very interesting academic & cultural phenomenon. You’ll see cutting edge research in the area, you’ll meet lots of other students (many of them graduate students), and hopefully you’ll get an insider’s glimpse into the discipline. Talk to department advisers to find out more about conferences.
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