Student Success Central

Step 1: Do Your Research

Change of Major Step 1

So you’re thinking about changing your major. Don’t worry—you aren’t the only student who’s thought about it. A recent study of 25,000 undergraduates from the National Center for Education Statistics found that “about one-third of students enrolled in bachelor’s degree programs changed majors” during their first three years. Maybe you already know what you want to switch your major to, or maybe you haven’t decided yet, but you know your current major just isn’t the right fit for you. Whether or not you’ve decided, it’s good to go through these steps to make sure you’re making the right choice.

 

A. Are you confident that you want to switch from your current major?

Here are some questions you can ask yourself:

 

How far into your major’s curriculum are you?

You can look at your curriculum sheet or your Degree Progress Report to see how far into your major’s curriculum you are.

 

Will switching extend your path to graduation?

Switching majors may extend your path to graduation. If you are switching into a degree that has unrestricted electives or if there’s overlap with your current major, ask your academic advisor if any courses you’ve taken will count toward your new degree.

 

Degree unit counts

Most majors at Cal Poly Pomona are 120 units. Some majors, like engineering or architecture, require more than 120 units. It’s important to know how many units the major you want to switch into entails so you know how long it’ll take you to complete. If you want to graduate in two (for transfer) or four years (for freshmen), we recommend taking 30 units a year for majors that are 120 units.

 

Financial aid

A student's eligibility for financial aid varies depending on several policies issued at the federal, state, and institutional level. Certain types of financial aid have time, amount or unit limits on eligibility. You can find out what those limits are on the Financial Aid & Scholarships website, as this might factor into your choice on changing your major. Spending more time on your degree might affect your aid.

If you’re not sure what type of aid you receive, you can look in your Student Center under the View Financial Aid link, or contact Financial Aid & Scholarships or the Bronco Advising Center.

 

B. Which major should you switch to?

Here are some strategies that you can start with:

Know what majors Cal Poly Pomona offers.

Cal Poly Pomona has 97 majors and 81 minors. Before you start the process of changing your major, you should know what degree programs we offer by looking at the University Catalog – you might find a program that you didn’t know about.

The academic departments are responsible for the degree programs. Before you get started, you should also know which department is responsible for the major you’re interested in. The department webpages contain a variety of information about their majors, such as their clubs and projects, internship programs, career opportunities, and FAQs about the major. You can find the list of department webpages on Student Success Central.

Talk to faculty members.

From accounting to urban and regional planning, Cal Poly Pomona faculty are the experts in their fields. Talking to faculty members in both your current department and the department for the major you’re looking to change into can help you understand more about the major and the potential career paths. Here are some examples of questions you can ask them:

  • What are the courses like within this major?
  • What internships or jobs are offered within this field?
  • What are some key skills I’ll need for this field?

 

Consider the major options/subplans.

Some majors require you to choose an option or a subplan, which is a concentration within the major. For instance, CPP’s sociology degree has three subplans: general sociology, criminology and social work. All three subplans have the same required core courses, but they have their own subplan core courses and subplan electives. Look through your list of majors you’re considering, see if any of them have options or subplans and think about which one you would choose if you chose that major.

 

Consider your strengths and weaknesses.

Consider what hobbies you’ve had throughout your life. Have you ever written code for a computer program or had a passion for cooking? Maybe you’ve always been fascinated by politics or biology. Try looking into majors relevant to those interests.

It’s important to consider your strengths and weaknesses along with your interests to find a major that will best fit you. You may think that space and rockets are super cool, but maybe you aren’t too fond of doing math. It might not be the best option to become an aerospace major. But if you’ve always excelled at writing, a communications major might be something to explore.

 

Take advantage of the Career Center and its resources.

The Career Center, located in the Campus Marketplace, has more than resume workshops and a clothes closet. They have a variety of resources to help you decide which future career is right for you:

  • The career exploration page is a great place to start looking at different major options. There are occupational guides that show you average pay and job growth for different career fields, and resources to help you decide between different majors.
  • One-hour career counseling sessions are available at the Career Center with an appointment. The career counselors can help you explore different career options by providing professional guidance. The center also offers 15-minute drop-in advising sessions.
  • The Career Center also offers its own class. CPU 1100: Career & Personal Exploration is a 2-unit course offered in the Fall and Spring semesters. The class is designed to help you explore your career options and decide the best academic major and career choice for you.
  • The Career Center offers several different types of assessments, including the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality assessment and the Strong Interest Inventory assessment, an assessment that relates your interests to career options.

 

Consider the job market.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What is the average pay for the different career paths I’m interested in?
  • Are the number of jobs in that field decreasing or increasing?
  • Where are those jobs located?

These are some important questions to ask yourself when you’re between a few major options. For some students, the salary is a really important aspect of picking a major. It’s beneficial to see the salary range for different position so you have the best understanding of your career path. Knowing the number of jobs in the field and if that number is going up or down is also important to know.  

Think about where you might want to live in the future—is California a place you’ll never leave, or is there another place you have your heart set on? For some industries, the jobs are centralized in a few locations, so you’ll want to consider how those line up with your ideal future home location. The Career Center has links to some resources that can help you look into this: https://stats.bls.gov/ooh/home.htm and https://www.cacareerzone.org/.

The academic departments might also have some information about the job market or flyers for opportunities for their majors.

 

Attend a club meeting.

Many clubs on campus invite members from industry to speak during U-Hour about what they do at their job. If you don’t know someone who works in a field you are interested in, this could be a great way to get some insight on what daily life is like in a particular position. You can find information about campus clubs by looking on MyBAR or bulletin boards in the hallways near the departments, asking students in the major, or checking social media.

 

Take an intro class.

Most majors have an introduction class that introduces the general ideas of the major. Talk to your academic advisor about taking an introduction course for a major you’re interested in.

 

Attend a career fair.

Career fairs are another great place to ask members of industry what it is like to work in different fields. The Career Center has two large fairs in the fall and spring, but hosts smaller fairs throughout the year. You can find out when career fairs are happening on campus here.

 

Talk to your friends.

Another way to get some perspective on different majors is your friends outside of your major. If you’re interested in your friends’ majors, ask them about the classes they’re taking, the kinds of projects they work on, and what their experience has been in their major. If you talk to your friends about their majors, keep an open mind – their experience might be different than yours. 

If you know someone who recently graduated or a family friend who has a career in a field that interests you, reaching out to them is a good idea – you can get some insight about what life is like at their job and what they did to get there.

 

Be confident in your choice.

It’s okay to spend time thinking about your major choices. Switching majors is an important decision, and it may extend your path to graduation if you switch multiple times. It’s better to take your time to do your research and meet with an advisor then to regret your decision later.