Choosing a Major

As a UCSB student, you must declare a major by the start of your junior year (90 units) to ensure that you are eligible to register in classes each quarter. Your registration will be blocked if you do not declare a major.

In order to get the registration block removed you must visit your intended major department, declare your major, and bring a copy of the paperwork to the College of Letters and Science (Cheadle 1117). Alternatively, if you are not allowed to declare at this point, you can bring a note from the department advisor stating that you are making satisfactory progress.

While choosing a major is a normal and mandatory part of a university experience, it is not always easy-- especially for students with multiple interests. If you are seeking more information or general guidance about majors, the links below provide tips and information that can help you:

Factors When Choosing a Major

Advantages of Declaring a Major Early

While declaring a major early is not critical, it does offer several benefits that are worth considering:

  • Earlier access to information about departmental opportunities such as internships, scholarships, research projects, and new classes
  • More time to take extra major courses or complete independent studies
  • Easier access to courses in a major department (some courses are "majors-only")
  • Greater clarity in choosing your classes each quarter
  • An increased chance of finishing your UCSB degree within four years

How to Choose a Major

While there is no step-by-step procedure for choosing a major that fits you, there are several simple ways you can narrow your choices:

  • Use the UCSB General Catalog to review requirements and course descriptions for different majors.
  • Choose General Education courses that apply to majors you are considering. Visit the General Catalog to view lists of all courses that apply to the GE Program.
  • Visit the College Advising Office (1117 Cheadle Hall) to make an appointment with an academic advisor.
  • Visit Career Services to research career opportunities.
  • Visit department offices for majors that interest you, and speak with staff, professors, or the departmental undergraduate advisor. Many departments also have peer advisors who can tell you about their own experiences in a particular major. For department contact information, visit UCSB’s Departmental Directory or the UCSB Student-Staff-Faculty Directory.

Are You in the Right Major?

The best way to determine whether or not a major is right for you is to be aware of your thoughts, feelings, and general performance in relation to your major classes.

You may be in the right major if:

  • You cannot wait to attend classes in your major.
  • The material you study is fun and interesting.
  • You have trouble picking which major classes to take because you want to take everything that is being offered.
  • You frequently find yourself thinking about ideas brought up in lecture.
  • You talk about topics in your major in regular conversation with friends.
  • You pursue opportunities outside of class (research, field trips, additional assignments) in your major field of study.
  • You do well in your major classes.

You may be in the wrong major if:

  • You dislike your major, but you think it’s too late to change.
  • Your major makes your family happy, but your true interests lie elsewhere.
  • You have lost sight of why you chose your major in the first place.
  • You think your current major is the only path to the job you want.
  • The books required for your major do not appeal to you.
  • You dread attending your major classes.
  • Your major GPA is lower than it should be.

Changing or Declaring a Major

How to Declare a Major

The procedure for changing or declaring your major is the same:  simply visit your new major department’s office.  The department advisor or staff will assist you in completing a Change of Major Petition in order to make your choice official.

If you are in junior standing (completed 90 or more units) and hope to change your major, first verify that you can complete your new major within the 200 unit limitations. An academic advisor in the College Advising Office can help you examine your options and help you stay on track for graduation.

Situations Requiring Additional Petitions

You also may be asked to complete an additional petition if:

  • You have completed 135 units or more and are attempting to change your major. In this case, you may be asked to complete a Proposed Schedule for Graduation.   
  • You are entering the College of Engineering (the additional petition can be obtained in the Engineering Dept. Office).
  • You are proposing a double major. In this case, you must also complete a Memo of Understanding.

Some majors require auditions, placement exams, or specific courses and a minimum grade-point average to determine whether or not students are qualified to pursue that major. To learn more about special admission requirements, visit the General Catalog and review the "major sheet" for your desired department.

Double Majors

If you have more than one strong interest, you may find it rewarding to complete a double major. UCSB does allow this extra academic endeavor, provided you can finish all degree requirements without exceeding 200 units. 

To graduate with a double major, you must fulfill all of the requirements for both majors. More information about double major requirements and policies can be found in the General Catalog.

While you are taking lower-division courses in preparation for both majors, there is no limit to how many of these courses can overlap for subject credit. However, this is not the case for upper-division major courses; no more than eight units can be applied simultaneously to both majors.

If both majors lead to the same degree objective (B.A., B.S., B.F.A., B.M.) and come from the same college, you earn one degree. However, if the two majors come from different colleges, or if they lead to different degree objectives, you will earn two degrees.

It is important to note that majors with different degree objectives will require different General Education coursework; this may result in a very heavy G.E. load.

If you have a genuine passion for two subjects and feel confident in your ability to handle a heavier workload, a double major could be a wise option for you. However, there are some important considerations to keep in mind before you decide to take on a double major:

  • Because of the requirement to complete all degree requirements and graduate without exceeding 200 units, students pursuing a double major typically have very few totally free elective courses.
  • Some major combinations are not possible.

Before you declare a double major, discuss your choice with the departmental undergraduate advisor for each major to ensure you understand what is expected. You should also consult an academic advisor in the College Advising Office (1117 Cheadle Hall) for additional assistance in evaluating this option and developing an academic plan.

Once you are certain that a double major is right for you, you will need to complete a Change of Major Petition and a memo of Understanding, both available in the College Advising Office (1117 Cheadle Hall), and on the website under the Petitions page.

Minors

The completion of a minor is not required for graduation, but many students choose to pursue a minor because of a special interest in a secondary topic or because it helps them focus their elective upper-division units.

Through a minor, you can have the freedom to explore an area that is very different from your major or one that is similar and complementary. If you are considering a minor, please read the general guidelines below and visit the UCSB General Catalog to review a list of all minors offered.

Please visit the General Catalog and click on your minor of choice to view the program’s requirements.

No more than five units can apply simultaneously to both your upper-division major and your upper-division minor coursework.

If you believe a minor will help enrich your UCSB studies, visit the department in which you are seeking a minor. The departmental advisor will assist you in making your choice official.