Choosing a Major

Although University, College, and Berkeley campus requirements are essential components of the degree, your major program will be the central focus of the work you do for your Bachelor of Arts degree in the College of Letters & Science. Students in a major program become familiar with the intellectual boundaries of a particular discipline, study particular aspects of that discipline in depth, and develop competence in the fundamental skills and methodologies related to it.

In general, it is a good idea to choose a major as early as possible, but it is also important that you not hurry the process. You want to consider all your options before making a decision, and you may need a little extra time to explore different fields before you are ready to commit yourself to the major that will be the best fit for your interests and abilities.

Keep in mind that your choice of major will not necessarily determine your choice of a career later on. For many L&S students, career options are determined more by what they do outside the classroom, through career research and internships. Even in those majors that are related directly to particular careers, it will still serve you well to gain hands-on experience in order to reaffirm your career choice.

Note: Consult with your intended major department regarding major prerequisites, GPA guidelines, and deadlines to declare a major.

Steps for Choosing a Major

  • Familiarize yourself with the majors and requirements in the Berkeley Academic Guide for majors still on your list, and continue to narrow your focus.  Visit the departmental website for any major whose class descriptions seem interesting to you.
  • For further help in refining your search, make an appointment with a College Adviser in the L&S Office of Undergraduate Advising.
  • After you have shortened your list and have a manageable number of majors, investigate further. Visit departmental offices, talk to students and faculty, and seek any materials that might not be available online.
  • Make parallel lists of prerequisite courses for each major you are still considering. You will probably have narrowed the list to four or five majors. Frequently, these majors will have similar or overlapping prerequisite courses. Use these lists to select courses for future terms.
  • For majors you are seriously interested in, attend an upper division course (for more than a single session) to get a sense of the direction of the major.
  • Attend departmental undergraduate association events and review the undergraduate association newsletters when available.

Next: Enrolling

UCB L&S Choosing Majors as a First Year Student