Choosing a major is a significant step in your college journey. It’s what sets you on the path to graduation.
Fortunately, deciding on a major (or two) is not an all-or-nothing decision. You can always change it later on or even try a completely different subject in grad school. But even with this flexibility, you still need to make a choice.
UC Davis has more than 100 majors to choose from, which might feel overwhelming. Use this quiz and guide to help narrow down the options to the interest areas that best suit you.
How to choose a major
Create a future plan
Regardless of what stage in life you’re at now, if you’re deciding to go to college or change majors, there are some things about your future you need to consider first.
Goals: What are my life goals?
Do you have a goal in life? Some people’s life goals include helping others, being financially independent or traveling the world. Your goals can provide insight on what kind of major you’d like.
If you don’t have any life goals, think about the moments in your life that made you feel the most alive and happy. Write down those moments in great detail. Why did those moments stand out to you? Try turning those reasons into your life goals.
Location: Where should I live?
Some people stay in their hometown for their entire lives and are very content living there. Others want to live as far from home as possible. What major you choose could determine where you live after you graduate.
If you love living by the ocean, consider majoring in marine and coastal science. If you know you want to major in computer science and engineering, would you mind living in Silicon Valley or working from home?
If you’re someone who craves human interaction, choose a major like community and regional development, which would allow you to connect with others in a big city. Would you rather directly support people in need? Try sociology.
Income: What is a good salary for me?
Just remember there are many more options than doctor, lawyer or engineer that can lead to a career with a high salary. Ask an academic advisor about the many choices that are available to you.
On the other hand, not everyone’s goal is to make a ton of money. For instance, those who major in political science — public service will likely have careers in government.
While working for the government doesn’t usually result in higher salaries, it often comes with solid benefits and the personal satisfaction of helping people, especially those who experience systemic oppression.
Make a ‘favorite things’ list
If you still haven’t narrowed down a major you like, try making a “favorite things” list. Your interests should indicate what majors you’d like.
Do you love English and hate math? Or do you like both? Your favorite K-12 subjects shine a light on your natural talents.
But K-12 education just covers the basics of every subject. You can dive deeper and specialize with more than 100 majors at UC Davis.
Maybe you’re the kind of person who generally likes biology, but you really loved that one class that went into detail about how dolphins sleep with half their brain. For majors, you could try out marine and coastal science—marine ecology and organismal biology or neurobiology, physiology and behavior.
Hobbies and activities
Do you have hobbies or activities you enjoy doing in your free time? It’s up to you whether you want to turn these into a career.
The downside is that your hobbies will become work. But if these activities make you happy and you can see yourself doing them for the rest of your life, consider choosing a similar major.
For example, if you love photography or ceramics, consider majoring in art studio, where you can choose to specialize in these or other forms of media.
Interested in brewing your own wine or beer? Try majoring in food science with a specialization in fermentation science and choose the brewing science option.
Maybe you read Shakespeare in high school and became obsessed with the medieval era. Well there’s a major for you too! It’s called medieval and early modern studies.
Feelings and values
If you don’t have a specific school subject you like and don’t want to turn your hobby into a career, ask yourself this question. What do you care about the most?
Do you care most about eliminating systems of oppression and supporting marginalized communities? Then you might enjoy gender, sexuality and women’s studies, African American and African studies or political science.
Do you care most about religion and its role in society? Then you’ll like religious studies.
Do you care most about all humans and animals being physically and mentally healthy? Well, you have many options for health studies.
And if you’re thinking, “All I care about is sleep, food and video games,” there are majors for all of those too!
- For sleep, you could major in psychology or neurobiology, physiology and behavior.
- For food, you could major in food science or nutrition science.
- For video games, you could major in cinema and digital media, computer science and engineering or design.
Write down the top three things you feel most passionate about, and take a look at our full list of majors to see what matches up.
If you’re still unsure what major to choose, don’t worry! Many students choose their majors up to two years into college and switch their majors multiple times. The key is to remain flexible and to stay informed.
If you happen to be a UC Davis student, you’re lucky! UC Davis is one of the most flexible and supportive universities for students unsure of their major.
Apply as undeclared
At UC Davis, undeclared students go through a college-wide program that helps students:
- Sample a wide range of courses
- Complete general education requirements necessary to graduate within four years
- Decide on a major
First- and second-year students may choose to enter one of these undeclared programs:
Choose varied electives
Maybe you have a major in mind but are thinking about minoring or double-majoring. In this case, you could declare a major and choose electives that match your second interest.
This is a good way to test out a different major while gaining credit for it. If you decide you don’t want to pursue a double major, you’ve only lost a few credits or can work toward making it a minor instead.
Taking courses outside of your main major can really work in your favor because some majors that seemingly don’t connect can overlap in a very niche field.
For example, maybe you like writing, but you also really enjoy technology. By taking the course “Writing in the Professions: Technical Writing,” you’d be studying both subjects while working toward a minor in professional writing.
Communicate with an academic advisor to learn about the best options for you and whether you meet the pre-requirements to take a course.
Get involved in college clubs
Student clubs and organizations are an easy and fun way to get involved in college.
Not only do they offer opportunities to socialize and make new friends, but they also allow students to explore other interests in a way that doesn’t waste any credits.
At UC Davis, students have more than 800 student clubs and organizations to choose from.
Apply for an internship
The best way to know whether you’ll enjoy a future career is to get an internship. In other words, try it before you buy it.
The worst that can happen is you won’t enjoy it and won’t get paid for it. But at least then you’ll have a clearer idea of your future career path and whether you should continue pursuing your major.
The best that can happen is that you’ll enjoy it, get paid and gain valuable job experience that you can add to your resume.
At UC Davis, 80% of our undergraduates participate in internships. Our students can apply for jobs and internships using Handshake.
Change majors any time, many times
Changing majors is not a bad thing. Actually, it can be positively life-changing.
Students change their majors for a variety of reasons. A student might find they don’t like the current major they’re in. Perhaps a new career opportunity appeared. Maybe the student realized they were trying to please their family and wanted to pursue a different life path.
The downside to changing majors is that it can set your progress back and minimally requires the approval of an advisor and the dean of the college. All of UC Davis’ change of major requirements are available online.
But the positives can be huge. If you’re unsure whether you should switch majors, read about the experiences of two UC Davis students who did: “Changing a Major in College — Should You Do It?”
And remember, it’s never too late to change your major — or your career. Alumnus Justin Bosch turned his passion for brewing into a career. He had three degrees before he decided to study brewing at UC Davis.
Double major or add a minor
For those who are unsure about what field they want to go into, a double major or minor can come in handy. Choosing one or the other depends on how committed you are and how much time you have.
An academic advisor is the best person to help you make this decision, but the article “4 Decisions to Make About a Double Major” will give you more context.
Ask for help
Meet with advisors
UC Davis provides a whole host of advisors to help students along their college journey.
Summer orientation advisors help new students create an academic plan, set milestones and provide valuable resources and advice.
Academic college advisors work in college departments and programs. They’re the ones to go to when you need to declare a major, add a second major, add a minor or have any questions about majors and minors.
Peer advisors are students in your college who help you plan your course schedule, understand requirements and find resources.
General advisors can help with the whole college experience in general.
Find a mentor
Professors who align with your interests and values can make especially valuable mentors.
A good mentor will help guide you through your college journey and present you with new opportunities. With their support, you’ll have an easier time choosing the career path that’s best for you.
If you’re feeling shy or unsure about how to ask someone to be your mentor, here are “8 Tips to Ask a Professor to Be Your Mentor.”
FAQs about college majors
What are the easiest college majors?
The easiest college majors involve the subjects you enjoy the most. Even subjects that might seem difficult, like rocket science, are easy when they are fun to you.
What are the hardest college majors?
The hardest college majors involve subjects you dislike the most. Ignore stereotypes. Even STEM majors are not as hard as you might think.
Can you change your major?
Yes! At UC Davis, you need to get approval from your advisor and dean first, but you can change your major.
Is changing your major a bad thing?
Contrary to popular belief, it isn't bad to switch majors. Choosing a new major can change your life and career trajectory for the better, and it’s never too late to make the switch.
What percentage of college students change their major?
At UC Davis, more than 50% of enrolled undergraduates switch majors to one in another college within the university. If you decide to change your major, it’s okay. You are not alone.
College major quiz
Now you should have a better idea of what majors would best suit you. If not, try taking our college major quiz! It'll help narrow down your choices so you can easily find a major you’ll truly enjoy.