16 answers

What is the latest you can switch majors?

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You can really switch a major at anytime but I would suggest to not do it junior year or beyond. By your junior year you start taking a lot of classes specific to your major that do not usually transfer to another major, unless they fall under the same department or are used as an elective. It gets expensive to switch majors if you do it too late, and may delay your graduation time. Katelyn Robertson Translate
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Cory’s Answer

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As others have mentioned, you can typically change your major at any time. At some universities, specific majors can be very difficult to get into if there is limited space or prerequisites that have to be completed.

If you are wanting to switch to go into a very specific technical field, then you will need to do your research and complete the steps necessary to make that happen. If your career path is more general and switching majors will cause you to have to take a lot of extra classes, I would strongly consider finishing out college in your current major and getting your degree. College is very expensive, and your degree doesn't always dictate what your profession is going to be later in life. Spending more money to get a specific piece of paper is not always the answer. There are other options.

In the business world, I see people with every degree imaginable. It's just about getting in the door when you are talking about a lot of entry level positions. A bright, well researched candidate can do well in an interview even if they don't have a degree for that specific field. Once you get your foot in the door, you'll be able to pursue the knowledge you need to move up, and your experience and performance in that job will weigh heavily as you pursue other opportunities.
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Curt’s Answer

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The answer is simple: Never. That being said there are some things that go into that decision. Why are you switching majors? How far away are you from completing the major you've been working on? What is your financial position to continue your education? If you are in a major that you've determined is not a fit any longer based on whatever factors - personal preference, change in career prospects, future goals - then continuing down the road "just because" is not a good reason. However, if you are reasonably close to finishing the requirements for the major it may not be a bad idea to push through and get it. Having more than one major is not a bad thing. If you are determined to move in a different direction - let's say from business to nursing - and you can get the business degree in a semester or two then you have that under your belt. At that point you move on to the nursing major. One overriding factor is what kind of financial structure do you have to make the switch. If you're on the parent's plan of "you got 4 years of us paying and then we're done" you may need to push through, get the degree, work and save on your own and then go back. If you have the financial backing to make the switch then do it. The worst advice I ever got (from two professors) was get your undergrad degree, go work for five years or so, and then go back for your masters. Never happened. Bottom line, stay in school as long as it takes to get the degrees you want/need before you launch out in the "real world". The chances of going back go down by a lot once you taste freedom (and better food) and start making money.
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Stacy’s Answer

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It really depends on each college and the requirements of the college and the area of study you are considering. That is a great question to discuss with the guidance counselors at the college you are attending. When I went to college, the typical course of action was to take most basic classes the first two years and a major did not have to be declared until the end of year two but that has changed drastically.

I have twins that are in college at different schools and one had to declare a major when he applied as the "College of Communications" and he was accepted him into College under that major. My daughter started under general studies and decided on a major in year 2. Colleges really work to create schedules or help students create scheduled that will ensure students graduate in 4 years so if you select your major early on you can really focus on a mix of general required classes and major classes. Again, the guidance counselors at the colleges are extremely helpful in guiding students through these challenges.
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Nicholas’s Answer

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Typically, the first two years of college are all pre-requisite courses, and you declare your majors around the end of your second year. If you come in with many AP credits, you may be able to test out of those pre-requisite courses and start specialized courses of your major sooner. In that case, the timing to switch varies.

It also depends on what you are studying and what you want to switch into (how many credits overlap, how many are distinct credits you need to get, etc). If there is little overlapped you may need to pull the trigger sooner to be able to graduate on time. Else, you'd need to get a waiver to increase your credit load each semester.

If there is a lot of overlap (say, you only need to get an extra 12 credits to get a BS in Physics as well as a BS in Mathematics), my suggestion is to double major and not outright switching. It'll give you a more well-rounded education.
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Richard’s Answer

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Typically colleges require you to choose a major by the end of your second year, and choosing it that late won't always push your schooling to another year.

The best thing to do is pick a handful of majors you're interested in, and find classes each one has in common. Those, along with basic university requirements, would be the best to complete early on before taking your major. This will give you a foundation for each one you want to take, allowing you to complete each in the usual four years. However, you should also be taking one or two classes more specific to your majors or interest to get a feel for which one you want to do.

But I should also warn you that if you want to do more intensive majors in the STEM field that have more total hours of classes, it is best to choose earlier. This is because many upper-level classes have a lot of prerequisite classes, and have to be taken in a sequence of semesters. Thus, choosing too late will push your degree back a year. You should always look at the required classes for each major you're interested in to watch out for this scenario.
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Lauren’s Answer

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Sounds like you have some very good advice from those who have already answered. In my experience, its so hard to determine what path you want to take in that first or second year of college, but luckily most of your general studies classes the first year or two count towards most degree programs. As you get into that junior year, you are digging deeper into the more degree specific courses, so most of those may not transfer to the new major. Some departments will allow you to count them as an elective, but it really depends on the department.

I'd recommend you speak to a counselor in the department you want to transfer into. They will be able to review your transcript to determine which credits will apply and which ones wont count. Keep in mind, if you have 12-24 credit hours that wont transfer, it may take you longer to finish your new degree program, which in turn will cost you an extra semester or two of tuition/fees. Its also worth looking into whether there are hour caps for your school, I believe in the state where I attended college, as you approached a certain number of credit hours without graduating with an undergraduate degree, the school would charge out of state tuition which became more costly.

Hopefully a counselor can help you answer all your questions and what might impact you when/if you decide to change majors. Good Luck!
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Richard’s Answer

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Typically colleges require you to choose a major by the end of your second year, and choosing it that late won't always push your schooling to another year.

The best thing to do is pick a handful of majors you're interested in, and find classes each one has in common. Those, along with basic university requirements, would be the best to complete early on before taking your major. This will give you a foundation for each one you want to take, allowing you to complete each in the usual four years. However, you should also be taking one or two classes more specific to your majors or interest to get a feel for which one you want to do.

But I should also warn you that if you want to do more intensive majors in the STEM field that have more total hours of classes, it is best to choose earlier. This is because many upper-level classes have a lot of prerequisite classes, and have to be taken in a sequence of semesters. Thus, choosing too late will push your degree back a year. You should always look at the required classes for each major you're interested in to watch out for this scenario.
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Riley’s Answer

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This depends on what you want to change your major to. For example, if you wanted to switch your major from Biology to Marine Science, then chances are that you have probably already completed a lot of the same required courses. However, if you wanted to switch from Marketing to Environmental Science, then you probably would only have taken a couple of prerequisite classes that could be used for credit towards the new major. Then you have to consider how far along you are. I knew a lot of people who did switch majors in college and I have observed that people who did it before their sophomore year did not have to graduate late, but anyone who did switch majors either after sophomore year or halfway through it did end up graduating at least a semester late. If you do not mind staying a little longer, then this will totally be worth it if you are unhappy in your current major.
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David’s Answer

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This is really depend on what you trying to do and complete your degree in what major. Most college student make their final decision on what they want to major by the end of their 2nd years or 60+ credits because most of your elective and pre-requisite courses are completed by the second and the 3rd years and beyond are all major courses, so you don't want to repeat back the lower level courses when you are taking upper level and major courses. Yes, it is true that there is never the latest to change a major because you are really undecided but you have to consider how much money you are spending while in college, you are the one who is paying or taking loans even though you may have financial aid, grants, and etc. but it is not like high school were there is free or funding to help you with school. So really take into consideration of what you want to complete your degree and get the degree first and then come back for another in the future just because college tuition is expensive and you don't want to waste too much on it at the moment.
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Andrew’s Answer

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Generally the timing isn't an issue, but rather ensuring that the courses you may have already taken can be used as credits to the new major. Most degrees have specific requirements on a course track, or field specific courses which need to be taken. If you switch to a new major several years in, some general courses may be applicable, but you may have to basically start from scratch on the departmental courses required to obtain the degree in the new field.
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Kara’s Answer

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Great question! Like others have alluded to, there is generally no point at which you cannot switch your major; rather, colleges are more focused on getting you to DECLARE a major by a certain date (typically by the end of your sophomore year). That said, in addition to the time and money that a late switch could require, I'd add missed opportunities. Often, major requirements can only be fulfilled at your college/university, so study-abroad credits will probably not count toward your major. In my case, I switched my major so late that I needed to stay at my home campus to finish my major requirements so I could graduate on-time rather than going to study abroad.
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Michelle’s Answer

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In my opinion it is never too late to switch. Sometimes it takes several years of education to really decide what you what to do when you graduate. It took me four years to decide that I didn't want to be a CPA afterall………..something that I had thought that I had really wanted to do.
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Blake’s Answer

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Hey Olivia,

Every major has required classes that you must take. Some of these classes are less specific that might apply to multiple majors. So, you could theoretically change your major at any time, but you will still have to complete the required classes for that major. If you choose a major similar to the original major, a lot of the same classes might apply.

Thanks,
Blake
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Stephen’s Answer

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Depends.

If you are switching from organic chem to bio chem, 3rd year

If you are switching to an entire different field, say from Math to English, 2nd semester.

Most of your 1st and 2nd years of college are all the pre-requisite courses, so you lose nothing by jumping as a lot of majors have similar basics (English, History, a science, etc.).

But the deeper you are into a specialized major, the more difficult it will become.

And it also is about money and time. How much more will it cost both if you switch?
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Scott’s Answer

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You can do it at anytime, however, changing your major at a later time may delay your graduation and increase your cost to complete your degree.
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Yasmeen’s Answer

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To graduate on time I would not do it any later than before your junior year begins. You can change after that but you might have to take summer courses to still graduate on time, which could conflict with your internships. Or graduate a semester or year later.
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