Choosing a major to study in the USA or Canada
At North American universities, your main program of study is called your 'major.' Choosing an undergraduate major is an exciting decision, and you should put careful consideration into your choice. You should know what major interests you when you apply, but you do not need to make a final decision until you are at university.
When to choose a major
It is not essential to choose a major before starting your undergraduate program. At most universities, you must decide on a major at the end of your second academic year. However, if you know what area of study you want to focus on before you apply, you can find universities that offer strong programs in that subject.
How to choose a major
Choosing a major is an important, personal choice that you will have to make. Our expert Student Enrollment Advisors will guide you through choosing a major: contact them now. Students decide on their major based on a variety of factors, including personal interests, doing well in specific academic courses in High School, and career goals. Before making your choice, consider:
What are your interests?
Your last two years at university will be heavily focused on classes related to your major, and your major may lead to your career. Selecting a major that is related to topics you are interested in and enjoy studying, makes it easier for you to fully commit yourself to your university studies and your career.
What are your academic strengths?
In addition to thinking about what interests you, also consider what academic subjects you are strongest in. Being good in a particular subject in High School does not necessarily mean that you should pick a major related to that subject. But, it is something you should consider as it might indicate an area that you may excel in at university and in your career.
What are your career goals?
Choosing a major is not the same as choosing a career. A well-rounded North American education will prepare you with a variety of skills - including critical thinking, verbal and written communications, and organization - that you will need to compete for a job when you graduate. Unless you select a specialized program like nursing, there will probably be several careers for you to choose from when you graduate, and it will be up to you to pursue what you like. Many international students study these career-orientated majors:
- Business (popular specializations include accounting, finance, international business, and hospitality management)
- Computer science and information systems
- International relations
- Pre-professional programs like pre-law and pre-medical
- Communications (particularly journalism and marketing)
What if I can't decide on a major?
If you cannot decide what to study at university before applying for admission to a Canadian or US university, there is no need to worry - it will not hurt your chances of being admitted. Many undergraduate students start their first year at a North American university 'undeclared' - meaning that they have not yet selected a major. And, since you will mostly be taking general academic requirements during your first two years at university, you won't fall behind other students who have already declared their major.
Options for maximum flexibility
Choosing a broad major
It may be hard for you to decide on a major. Maybe you can't identify any subject that you're particularly interested in. Or, you're interested in so many that it's hard to decide! Choosing a broad major will allow you the flexibility to find your own area of specialty within that program of study. These disciplines all offer a wide variety of career options and academic options:
The US university system is very flexible. Many students switch majors - sometimes more than once - during university, although switching may result in having to extend your time studying in America.
Studying more than one major at a time
Some universities offer double major (or dual major) programs, and major-minor combinations. At the end of your studies, you earn a single degree. Both allow you to focus on more than one field of study simultaneously.
Double majors give equal weight to each academic area. If you choose a minor in combination with your major, most of your study will be for the major area, and the minor is a secondary field of study. It is common to choose a major in preparation for your intended career, and a minor that satisfies your personal interests. Your minor can also be used to specialize within your main subject area, in order to make you more attractive to employers.
Read more about your options within undergraduate degree programs.