When and how do I choose a major?

As you embark on your college career, you may have no idea what you want to major in or you can’t decide between several possibilities, or perhaps you may feel you know exactly what you’d like to study. The first thing to bear in mind is that you won’t choose your major for another year or two; in the meantime, take time to explore! A.B. students normally declare a major (called a concentration at Princeton) at the end of sophomore year, B.S.E students normally declare a major at the end of their first year .

To help you choose your major, consider where your interests lie, how you hope to make a difference in the world, and where you would find the best intellectual community of faculty and fellow students. Many of you may also be thinking ahead to potential career paths, but you will build valuable knowledge and skills in every major, and any major can lead in a variety of interesting directions. (See the Center for Career Development Alumni & Student Stories for a few examples from recent graduates.) Certificates are also a rewarding way to complement your major, pursue other passions, and develop other skills. 

There are many resources at your disposal to help you explore majors, including your faculty adviser, peer advisers, B.S.E. “interactors,” faculty departmental Directors of Undergraduate Studies, your residential college dean and assisant dean, and, to the extent that your career plans may influence your choice of major, the Center for Career Development and the Office of Health Professions Advising. In addition, throughout the year, there will be numerous events that will give you an opportunity to become acquainted with each major. The Choosing Your Major web page provides you with an excellent portal to the advising resources at your disposal.

Above all, remember that your major, while important, is only one component of your academic life. It will be complemented by other classwork, your independent research, and your extracurricular experiences at Princeton.