Choosing a university major–or study course–for your bachelor’s or master’s degree is an incredibly influential decision! The major you choose to study will influence not only the classes you take and the building you study in, but also what connections you make and even your future career.
Many people may say some majors are better or worse than others–but of course, it is all relative. Your individual future and success is not 100% based on your major. But of course, it is still an important decision!
Let’s talk about how to choose the best university major for you.
First…what is a major?
A major is your course of study at university. Most of your classes will be on topics related to your major, and when you graduate, you will be considered an expert in the subject.
There are tens of thousands of majors to study around the world, from subjects you may know such as Nursing and English, to more unique majors like Comedy Writing or Bakery Science.
Most students will only have one major. Depending on your university, it is possible to have two or three majors. Most students will choose to double major in related subjects–such as Business and Marketing, or English Literature and Creative Writing.
Why is choosing a major important?
The major you choose will influence your life in several important ways.
- You will probably take most of your classes in that major or closely related subjects
- Your professors, mentors, and advisors will all be related to that major
- Most of your friends and colleagues will probably be in the same field
- You can choose to go to a university that specializes in your major
- A major can teach you essential technical skills that you won’t learn elsewhere
- It may be easier for you to get jobs and internships in your field, if you have a degree from a related major!
Most universities will require you to choose a major early on–some schools will make you select a major as soon as you apply, but others will let you wait until the end of your second year.
Can you switch your major?
If you pick your major, then realize after a few months (or years!) that you really don’t like it, it is possible to switch in most cases!
Let’s review the situations where it is easiest to switch, and then take a look at situations where it’s harder to switch your major.
It’s easy to switch your major if you are in the first year or two of your program. This is because you still have plenty of time to complete all the graduation requirements after you switch!
It’s easy to switch your major if the majors are related. Switching from Computer Science to Computer Engineering, or from Psychology to Philosophy, will not be very hard since the subjects are related and they probably have very similar classes. Switching from Philosophy to Mechanical Engineering will be much harder since the courses are so different from each other.
It’s more difficult to switch your major if you are in the final year of your program. This is because you probably won’t have time to complete all the requirements for the new major and graduate on time. Students who change their major in the last year of the program sometimes have to study an extra year to make up the time.
It’s more difficult to switch your major if you wait until the last minute. Some schools have a deadline to apply to switch majors. If you wait until the last few weeks, or past the deadline, it will be very difficult for you.
Are there good or bad majors?
It’s common for well-meaning people to call some majors ‘good’ and other majors ‘bad.’ However, there is no such thing as a ‘bad’ major–it is all a matter of personal preference and your personal goals. All types of knowledge are needed in the world. Artists and fashion designers are needed just as much as surgeons or engineers. There are millions of people who are working in a career that is very different than what they studied in school–and doing very well!
It’s better to think about which major will best prepare you for the life you want in the future. If you want to be an engineer, studying philosophy may not be a very wise choice for you. But if you want to work in a German company, studying German language or culture could be an excellent investment!
Let’s talk about some techniques you can use to pick the best major for you.
Consider the “Hard Skills”
Many majors will teach you “hard skills.” Hard skills are physical and technical skills that you will use in the real world. Examples of hard skills include….
- Programming languages
- Building robotics
- Testing medical samples in a lab
- Building scale models
- Painting, sewing, or sculpting art
- Using editing software
- Creating an app
- Operating a certain machine
These are all skills that are important to develop for the workplace and your future career. Think about what type of work you want to do in the future and what hard skills you will need to develop. Then, you can select a major that will teach you these hard skills.
Tip: Universities that have lots of lab space, art/film studios, programming centers, maker labs, etc are the best for learning hard skills since they have the resources to help you practice them in real life.
Best majors for learning hard skills
These are a few top majors that will teach you valuable hard skills:
- Computer programming/sciences
- Software engineering/development
- Media arts
- Graphic design
Consider your multiple interests
University should be a time to work hard and develop skills–but it should also be a time to enjoy learning and pursue your passions! It will be best if you can choose a major that interests you personally, AND teaches you valuable hard skills.
Universities are growing more diverse in the majors they offer. More and more schools recognize that students have multiple interests, and workplaces of the future now expect their workers to have multiple talents and skills. There are many incredibly unique majors available now that would have been unthinkable 10 years ago!
Some exceptional study areas that explore multiple interests include…
- Internet + society
- Combines sociology, basic data science and computer science, technology, and ethnography
- Media + arts
- Combines graphic design, game design, computer science and programming, museum and curatorial skills
- Information + technology
- Combines business, management, marketing, technology, and software
- Health + technology
- Combines healthcare, medical knowledge, technology, analytics, software, and patient care
Consider the career value
It’s just a simple fact of life–some jobs pay higher than others. If you want a high-paying job in a competitive field, picking the right major can help give you a strong advantage in that field.
If you are more flexible in your goals, and would prefer an interesting or unique job instead of just one with a huge paycheck, you can also be more flexible in your major choice!
These are some of the highest-earning majors in 2023:
- Data Science
- Information Technology
- Software Engineering
- Industrial Engineering
- Aerospace Engineering
- Chemical Engineering
Tip: Studying one of these majors doesn’t automatically mean you will get a high-paying job. Many people who did not study these majors also end up in these fields.
Find your perfect major on Global Admissions
If it all seems overwhelming to find your perfect major out of thousands of universities and hundreds of countries…you aren’t alone! Try Global Admissions–we make studying abroad easy. You can apply to universities around the world on just one platform!
Book a free call with us to discuss your situation and we will point you in the right direction