Choose or Explore Possible Majors

Think about your major early!

Whether you already have a clear picture of where you want to go, or you’re completely undecided, it pays to research your options and requirements. All incoming students should consider two or even three potential majors or directions— because most students change interests once they’ve begun taking classes here. Likewise, many majors require qualification -- and because these qualification requirements can be strict, it’s always a good idea to have well-rounded plans.

If you’re still unsure of your major, don’t worry! Your first few quarters are a good time to get acquainted with UC Santa Cruz, your interests, and your potential majors. But because some majors (especially those in the sciences and engineering) require significant coursework from the beginning, it helps to get a clear idea as soon as you can.

You will be asked to propose your major by the end of your first year, and formally declare your major by the end of your second year.

Choosing a major or area of interest

1. Ask yourself some questions.

What subjects were your best in high school? What are your hobbies? What subjects interest you? Start with yourself: in many cases the students who have been most successful at UCSC have been those who followed their own talents and interests— even if they didn’t match the plans parents, teachers, or friends laid out for them. Use this summer and fall to begin assessing your interests, strengths and goals.

2. Start reviewing your options.

View the New Student Major Advising Summaries (FROSH/TRANSFERS) for the subjects that interest you. These summaries indicate how and when to begin the major; they will let you know whether a placement exam may be required, and they’ll also suggest first quarter classes for you to take. Many majors require a foundation in mathematics, for example, or an introductory course in the major. Other majors may not have mandatory first quarter classes — in those cases, you can wait and take an elective, exploratory, or general education course instead. These summaries were designed for students who begin at UCSC in fall; if you're starting in the winter quarter, talk with an adviser about which classes to take your first quarter.

View the General Catalog listings for your intended majors or minors. The General Catalog details not only the goals and outcomes for each major, but the overall requirements. Clicking on the “Course Listings” link for any department will also show you the courses offered by that department. Reviewing the titles and subjects of courses can give you an excellent sense for the knowledge you might gain from that particular major or discipline.

Consider an “Advising Cluster.”  If you’re undecided on a major, reviewing the cluster information is a good way to help you think about — and prepare for — a general direction you might take.

A note about AP Exams: Some AP exams may count toward your major and/or general education requirements, or award credits. If you’d like more information, review AP and IB course equivalencies.

3. Explore majors and careers.

Your major at UC Santa Cruz may not determine your ultimate career; most UCSC majors are excellent pathways for a wide variety of careers. But it is helpful to know your long-term goals as you choose your major, and plan your first years at UC Santa Cruz.

The Career Center offers robust resources and assessments to help you explore your options. We recommend you consider the FOCUS 2 Assessment, which is free for admitted and enrolled UCSC students.

Next Steps

2: Understand UC Santa Cruz’s Degree Requirements

3: The College Core and Academic Literacy Curriculum

4: Building Your Class Schedule

5: Important Advising Information & Resources