Picking a Major

Picking a Major

YoungBusinessWoman-250px.jpgPicking a major can be the easiest or the most difficult decision a college student has to make. This guide to picking a major outlines important information to take into consideration and strategies for students to use. Students may also schedule an appointment with a career counselor at 651.690.8890 for assistance to make the decision.  

What is a major or professional program?

Majors are essentially a combination of classes and experiences that provide a student with both in-depth and broad based skills and knowledge. Undergraduate majors usually fall into one of two categories.

  • Liberal Arts majors teach a broad range of skills needed in many professions.   
  • Pre-Professional programs tend to lead directly into one specific career. Like pre-Med, pre-Law, pre-OT, pre-PA, pre-Optometry, pre-Pharmacy and more.

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Majors at St. Catherine University

  • St. Catherine Experience Advising Tools give in-depth information on your major. Each tool is embedded with the eight themes of engagement to help you identify co-curricular activities that directly support your academic program. These activities include academic advising, career development, service learning, leadership development, living and learning communities, and internship opportunities.
  • St. Kate's offers a mix of both liberal arts majors and professional programs at all degree levels including: associate, bachelor, masters, doctorate and certificate. 

What is important when picking a major?

  • What do you like to study in depth? Consider what topics would be engaging to research, write papers about and explore through creating projects with other students. Students who choose a major that they really love and enjoy are more likely to graduate and to have better grades throughout college. Make sure that you consider both educational and life interests when choosing a major.
  • What would you like to do for a living? If you know, it is fairly easy to decide upon your major. If you're not sure, see Discovering Career Interests to find a good career match for your personal interests and needs. 
  • Stay away from “shoulds: I should take this class because my parents want me to; I should know what my major is already; I should major in (insert major here) because that’s what I always thought I would go into. Try to put the “shoulds” aside when choosing of your major. Consider your "coulds" instead.

How to explore majors and careers

Exploring majors and careers firsthand is the easiest way to get a real feel for what you enjoy and what you don’t. This can be done through books, websites, internships, networking, and other methods. Here are a few suggestions of ways to explore:

Does a major limit my options?

A common misconception is that once you pick a major, you're stuck with whichever job it leads to. However, except for those positions that require a license or certificate, many majors offer flexibility in the job market. There are biology majors who work in IT, business majors in research positions, and so on.

Liberal Arts majors develop valuable transferable skills for an ever-evolving workplace. The U.S. Bureau of Labor estimates that the average person changes career fields several times in their lifetime. The University of Illinois found that approximately 80% of workers in the United States are in a career field that is not directly related to their college major.

Liberal Arts majors provide students with the transferable skills employers seek

All majors at St. Catherine University will provide a student with the skills that employers look for in potential employees. According to the National Association of College and Employers, these skills are:

Verbal communication Written communication Honesty/Integrity
Teamwork skills Strong work ethic Analytical skills
Flexibility/Adaptability Interpersonal skills Motivation/Initiative
Computer skills Detail-orientation Organizational skills
Leadership skills Self-confidence