Choosing a Major

Exploring Your Options

How Do I Choose a Major?

“What is your major?” This is a question you will hear often. However, many students begin college without having a major in mind. Even though declaring a major is one of the first milestones on one’s career path, being “undecided” is very normal. Some students may know what profession they would ultimately like to achieve, but they are not sure how to get there.

Selecting your major is not the same as selecting a career. Although some careers like nursing, teaching, and engineering require specialized degrees, many do not. Investigating careers is one way to decide on a major. Consider classes in which you excel and classes you enjoy to provide a direction towards a major.

Interest + Skills + Passions + Talents = The right major for you!

Selecting a major is only one step in your academic career. Completing your degree is more important than being 100% sure that you picked the right major. Making any decision is better than making no decision at all. Don’t wait to long to decide upon a major. Selecting a major after your freshman year may result in a delay in your graduation because of the sequencing of classes.

Unfortunately, there is no crystal ball that can tell you what major to pick. You will have to do some research and some introspection. A good beginning resource is ECU Career Services. In addition, you can utilize Focus 2, a free self-paced career guidance tool designed to help select the right area of study, explore various career options, and provide valuable occupational information.

I want to be a Dentist, Doctor, Lawyer, Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapist, Physician Assistant, etc. What should I major in?

There is a common misconception that if you want to be a doctor, dentist, or pharmacist, you MUST major in Biology or Chemistry. This is not true.

So, what should you major in? ANYTHING! Yes, really, anything! Professional schools do not care what area your undergraduate degree is in. What they will be concerned with is your overall GPA, completion of pre-requisite courses and your grades in them, your standardized test scores, and shadowing and volunteer experiences. If you are fortunate enough to get an interview, they will obviously be concerned with how you present yourself, as well.

What is recommended is that you select a major you are passionate about, excel in, and will be happy with as a back-up plan. If money was not an object, what would you do? No one likes to think in terms of back-up plans, but only 10% or so of students who apply to professional schools are accepted, so you need to be prepared.

Do you know what profession you would like to pursue, but are undecided on a major? Consider the options below. These are only SUGGESTIONS. There is no perfect or right major. You can major in anything as long as you are sure to include the prerequisites for your professional program. These majors are merely ones that already include the prerequisites or allow you room to incorporate them and still finish in four years (you may have to take summer classes, though).

Law-related options in College of Arts & Sciences

Medical-related options in College of Arts & Sciences

Medical / Dental / Veterinary / Optometry / Pharmacy / Physician Assistant

Anthropology, Biology, Biochemistry, Business, Chemistry, Clinical Laboratory Science, Communication, English, Environmental Health, Exercise Physiology, Health Fitness Specialist, Health Services Management, Hispanic Studies, Mathematics, Math Education, Neuroscience, Nutrition, Philosophy, Physics, Psychology, Public Health Studies, Science Education, or Sociology.

Occupational Therapy / Physical Therapy

Anthropology, Biology, Biochemistry, Business, Chemistry, Communication, English, Exercise Physiology, Family & Community Services, Health Fitness Specialist, Hispanic Studies, Mathematics, Math Education, Neuroscience, Nursing, Psychology, Public Health Studies, Recreational Therapy, Rehabilitation Services, Science Education, Sociology, or Special Education.


There are no specific prerequisites for law school. Students interested in law can major in anything, but communication, writing, and critical thinking skills are essential, so you may want to consider one of the following:

Business, Communication, Criminal Justice, Economics, English, History, Mathematics, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, Social Work, or Sociology.

If you know you are interested in a very specific area of law you may want to major in a field that will be relevant, such as: Environmental Law – Biology, Chemistry, or Environmental Health; Intellectual Property – Computer Science or Engineering;  Family Law – Child Development and Family Relations, Psychology, Social Work, or Sociology.