Exploring Majors

Choosing a Major

Choosing a major and choosing a career are not synonymous.  Choosing a major involves selecting an area of concentration while you are in school.  Choosing a career involves the selection of a particular occupation upon graduation and thereafter.  While they may be connected, it is important to know that your major does not necessarily determine your career.

Most majors offer a range of career options.  Employers seek more than a degree.  They also look for transferable skills, such as good communication and leadership skills.  These are skills you can acquire with many majors, as well as through your volunteer, internship, and work experiences.  No matter what major you choose, it will offer something of value.

Step By Step Towards Your Major Choice

To help you make your choice, consider these steps and actions.  Good information is the surest route to a satisfying major decision.

  1. Consider Your Options
    Review all of NU's A-Z list of Academic Programs and make an initial list of possible majors 
  2. Gather Information
    Learn more about the majors that interest you:
  3. Narrow Your Focus
    Now that you have learned more about some majors, try to shorten your list to two or three majors that interest you the most.
  4. Ask Questions
    Talk to faculty members, department advisors, your own academic advisor and students already enrolled in the majors on your short list. Some questions to answer include:
    • What topics will I study?
    • What are the requirements for this major?
    • What minors or other courses might complement this major?
    • Will there be opportunities for internships, research, or other experiential learning?
    • What skills will this major help me develop?
    • Will I enjoy these courses and why?
    • Is graduate school usually required to work in fields associated with this major?
    • What kinds of jobs do other students in this major pursue?
  5. Try Out Courses in Your Majors of Interests
    Register for courses in disciplines of interest that also meet distribution requirements or select classes to sit in on.  You can probably just sit in on large classes but you may need to get instructor permission to sit in on smaller classes.
  6. Declare Your Major
    Each school at Northwestern has its own procedures for declaring a major.You will need to learn the procedures for each school in which you wish to enroll.
  7. Make an Interschool Transfer if Necessary
    The interschool transfer process at Northwestern University is the formalized means by which you change your enrollment from one school to another within the university.

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