UMass Boston

Academic & Career Engagement & Success Center

Exploring Majors

Your freshman and sophomore years are a time to explore a variety of interests. Gradually you’ll start to focus on specific interests, and choosing a major will become easier and less confusing.

Majors & Programs

Should you try to match your major to a career?

Specialized careers, like nursing or accounting, require specialized majors. But for many other careers, your major doesn’t dictate your career choice – nor, in most cases, should your career choice dictate your major. Many different fields, including law, business, and medicine, are open to a wide range of college majors.

Also, keep in mind that your future will be filled with change. For one thing, you’re likely to switch careers three to five times during your lifetime. Plus, careers themselves are constantly evolving. What’s in demand today may be obsolete tomorrow – and tomorrow’s “hot” fields may not even be invented yet.

So what’s the best major for you?

That would be any discipline that arouses your curiosity and creativity, engages and challenges you, helps you develop lifelong learning strategies, and, most importantly, gives you joy.

To help you decide, think about these factors:

  • Do you truly enjoy the courses in a particular major? Do you look forward to class? Does reading the material make you want to learn more?
  • Can you do well academically in that major without too much stress and difficulty?
  • Can you identify a connection with that major to a career you’ll enjoy pursuing?

How much should the advice of others affect your decision?

How much you choose to consider others’ advice is your call. But it is important to draw on all available resources early in your academic career.

Advisors in the Academic and Career Engagement and Success (ACES) Center, your professional advisors in other programs, and faculty members: each resource brings a unique perspective and valuable expertise to the discussion. The stronger your connections with them, the better they will get to know you—and the better their advice. Your role is to participate actively in the process and make a decision that’s right for you.

What’s the “right” path to success?

Successful careers grow from being well-rounded, confident, and intelligent, with broad knowledge and good communication, writing, and teamwork skills. So a bachelor’s degree is a great foundation. Any major can help you acquire transferable skills and a path to unlimited choices.

A good place to seek help starting early in your academic career is the ACES Center, where advisors can assist with course decision-making as well as learning academic requirements. ACES advisors can also offer career counseling and decision-making guidance. Career assessment (using Focus 2) can also help you zero in on your strengths and preferences. Faculty members are another excellent source of information and support. Finally, the Healey Library offers an entertaining and practical way to learn more about various academic interests through their streaming video collection. Accessing this site from an off-campus computer requires a Healey Library barcode.

Experience also counts. Even before your senior year, pursue research in your field, internships, and other hands-on opportunities to explore careers behind the scenes.

Pre-requisites and credits may be required to participate; learn more by meeting with an ACES advisor.

Remember: we’re here to help.

We can answer your questions, ask you questions to help you focus your thinking, make suggestions, and offer support.