We are a reader-supported education publication. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission to help us keep providing content.
Learning how to change your major is easier than it might seem. While different colleges and universities will vary slightly, changing your major is usually a matter of analyzing your existing credits and filling out the right forms. This guide breaks down the five main steps you can take to change your major.
1. Consider Why You Want to Change Your Major
The first thing to think about when you’re wondering how to change your major is why you want to. There are many great reasons for changing your major, but it’s important to understand why you’re not happy in your current major. This will help you avoid choosing another major that isn’t a good fit for you.
Surveys estimate that as much as 80% of college students change their major at least once. So, remember it’s totally normal to consider changing your major. You just need to think carefully about that switch so you don’t have to change majors a second or third time.
For example, if you are a biology major right now, you might find handling dead or living organisms unsettling. If this is the case, anatomy, nursing, or pre-medicine major would not be a good fit for you, either. It can be tempting to switch to a similar major since your credits will easily transfer. However, this often defeats the purpose of changing your major at all.
There could also be a specific task or skill that is central to your current major but which you are not good at. For example, if you struggle with math, majors like engineering or physics will be extremely difficult. Likewise, if you are a psychology major but have difficulty speaking with other people, you may struggle with key elements of post-graduation jobs.
On the other hand, don’t let one difficult class discourage you. Every major has challenging courses. If you like your current major overall but struggle with one or two courses, you don’t necessarily have to change your major. You may simply need tutoring or extra study time.
2. Research New Majors
You should be running toward a major, not away from one. If you’re wondering how to change your major, it may be tempting to focus on the things you don’t like about your current major. This is only half of the equation, though. You should also understand what you would prefer to be studying and the careers that you would prefer to pursue one day.
So, start researching other majors once you’re sure you don’t want to stay in your current major. There are many ways to do this. You can use Google, YouTube, and forums like Reddit to hear about other students’ experiences in different majors and careers. Remember to research careers, as well. You should have some idea what you would want to do with your new major after graduation.
One great resource is your college or university’s course directory. Browse through courses with an open mind. Imagine you’re choosing courses to take as electives. What topics do you gravitate towards?
You can also talk to students in other majors and departments. Don’t be afraid to reach out to professors and teaching assistants, as well. They know what it takes to succeed in their degree programs. If your college or university has clubs or student organizations for majors you’re interested in, try visiting a group meeting and mention you might be changing majors. This is a great way to meet the students you could be studying with.
3. Meet With Academic Advisors
Try to narrow down your new major possibilities to one or two candidates. Once you have a fairly clear idea of what major you would like to switch to and why, it’s time to sit down with academic advisors. Your current and prospective advisors are helpful for a few reasons.
First, academic advisors will know exactly how to change your major specifically, including any potential challenges you may face. They will be able to help you figure out how your existing credits will transfer to your new degree program. The academic advisor for your new major will also be able to give you tips for preparing for your new classes and coursework.
Meeting with your current and prospective advisors is also important for confirming that your new major is the right choice. You may have certain expectations about what your new major will be like, but that might not line up with reality. Explain your goals and motivations for changing your major to your advisors. They will be able to reassure you that your new major is a good fit for what you’re ultimately hoping to achieve.
4. Verify Your Graduation Date
A necessary part of learning how to change your major is navigating paperwork and credits. You might have the seemingly perfect new major in mind, but the switch might not be easy. If your new major and your current major are very different, your existing credits and coursework might not transfer well.
You could end up with a delayed graduation date because you essentially need to start all over with your degree program. This isn’t always the case. Courses you took for your current major may be able to count as elective credits for your new major. However, you still need to be able to fit all of the required courses for your new major into your graduation timeline.
Academic advisors can help you figure out what your graduation date would be if you changed majors. An advisor in your prospective new major will be particularly helpful in this process. Make sure you print out a copy of your unofficial transcript to bring with you to their office, though. It will make it much easier for the two of you to go over your previous and future coursework.
5. Visit the Provost’s Office
The final step to change your major is to visit your college or university’s provost’s office. Check online or ask your professors to find out where it is located on campus. The provost’s office is usually in an admissions or administrative building.
You may visit the provost’s office multiple times in the change of major process to get forms and transcripts. Not only do the folks in the provost’s office know how to change your major, they also handle all the paperwork. Once you have met with academic advisors and picked a specific major you want to switch to, collect all of your paperwork.
Personnel at the provost’s office will usually look over this paperwork to make sure you have all the necessary forms filled out. Always double check your forms just in case, though. Once your paperwork is submitted, there will usually be a short wait period while your change of major is processed. Depending on the size of your college or university, this could be a few hours or a week or more.
How to Change Your Major
Changing your major can seem like a confusing, challenging process at first. This five-step process makes it simple, though. It’s really all about understanding why you want to change your major and what major would be a better fit for you. Take plenty of time to think, research, and discuss with students and professors before finalizing your new major choice. Taking the leap into a new major can be fun and exciting when all the paperwork is done!