How to change your major (part 1)

It’s the first thing people ask you in college: “What’s your major?” It’s tough to answer when you have no idea what you want to study or if you feel your current path might not be the right fit.

Most ASU students end up changing their major at least once prior to graduation. In this two-part series, we’ll dive into the “why” behind changing your major, as well as the “how.”

Take the time to think this through carefully. Changing your major can tack on more classes, resulting in additional time and money spent on your degree. On the other hand, it can also help you achieve that “you’ll never work a day in your life if you’re doing what you love” mantra.

You’ll want to set up an appointment with your advisor to discuss making a change. Before you go, think about what a major really means and what you want. Aaron Garriss, director of Student Success Innovations, tells students that your major is the subject matter that you will become an expert in, it’s not always a direct path to a specific career. He encourages students to take a serious look at their options (like those listed below) before making the big decision.

  1. Explore. If you are struggling to decide what you want to study try signing up for an exploratory course like a first-year cohort section or sign up for a few classes in subjects you are considering. Get your feet wet in the subject matter before making a full commitment. Taking the me3Ⓡ major and career quiz can help you find out which areas you might be best suited for.
  2. Understand your learning style. Different majors are taught in different ways. If you’re a hands-on learner, consider a major that has an internship or service learning aspect built in. If you learn best from reading and lectures, try out a class in your new field to make sure you will be able to thrive in the environment. Take this quiz to help discover your learning style.
  3. Dive deep into career services. This site is a wealth of information. You can read up on any career area you’re interested in and see how to frame different majors to fit diverse career paths. You can even take career assessments and see the job duties related to specific careers.  
  4. Ask “what if?” Running a “What If” DARS Audit on a potential major will show you how your credits will transfer into a new major, how long it will take to complete, and which classes are still needed to complete. It’s a great way to explore your options and see how your college career will be affected by a major change. You’ll be able to consider if changing your major will mean adding time to your college career or expenses that differ for some majors (think lab fees). Read our post on how to get the most out of DARS.
  5. Consider a minor or internship. Ask yourself if adding a minor to your studies or exploring the interest outside of the classroom through an internship would accomplish your goals. It could be easier on your life and your wallet. Adding a few additional classes to your schedule or working directly in the industry you’re interested in could put you on the track you want, without changing your four-year plan.

If you’re still not sure what you want to do, your advisor is a great resource. They can help you navigate the major and career exploration tools online, and are there to discuss your options with you. Once you’ve made your decision, you can send a change of major request to the advising team of your new major. That’s where the next article in this series comes in. It’ll cover all the questions you should consider so that you get the information you need for a successful transition. Read Making a major change (part two) here.


Adulting 101

Sun Devils turn to ASU Adulting 101 to learn (some of) the things not taught in class. Not sure about how to do something? Need to connect with an expert? We got you.


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