Choosing a Major
"I thought I had my major decided when I began sophomore year, but after a few more courses, I changed my mind. I just went back to majoring in one of my other interests, even though I had taken only one course in it."
"The DUSes are the best resources about majors. Meet with them."
"Get to know upperclassmen in your major or possible major. They can be an amazing resource."
"I did not know what my major would be until after spring term started. I took Psychology 110 because I heard it was a good course, and the next thing I knew I found my major—psychology. I was stressed some until then, but for some of us it takes a bit longer to find a major."
"Sophomore year . . . should be a time to explore different fields."
"Find a major and get started on it."
In many respects, sophomore year continues the themes of freshman year. It is still a time to explore different subjects as you complete the distributional requirement for the sophomore year and earn the minimum of sixteen course credits required for promotion to junior standing. It is also a time to think seriously about what your major will be.
In some subjects it is actually time to make a choice. For example, students majoring in the sciences and in mathematics must indicate their major during sophomore year; majors in most other subjects can wait until the beginning of junior year. You can declare your major on line.
Your choice of major should conform to your intellectual interests and preferences, which become clear only after you have looked into a variety of subjects and have sought faculty advice. The subjects you have studied in freshman year and the ones you choose in sophomore year should give you a sense of what engages your interest, makes good use of your talents, and satisfies you as an intellectual enterprise.
In order to ensure that your education has shape and coherence, discuss and analyze your academic program as a whole with your faculty adviser. Toward the end of your sophomore year you will be asked to choose a faculty member, perhaps your sophomore year adviser, with whom you will draw up a tentative program of study, including courses within your major and outside it, for your junior and senior years.
Choosing a major involves exploring many subjects and submitting them, as well as yourself, to the kind of research that underlies all knowledge—observing, collecting information, interpreting, formulating questions, and evaluating answers.
There are various sources of information about majors and major requirements.
- The Academic Fair, held in WLH and LC on Tuesday, August 28, from 2 to 4 p.m. For most departments, the DUS or another knowledgeable representative is available to answer questions about prerequisites and major requirements. A complete list of participating departments and meeting locations will be posted at the main entrances of the buildings.
- Departmental directors of undergraduate studies (DUSes) or their designated advisers. Names, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses appear in Yale College Programs of Study (YCPS). Some larger departments have advisers for each residential college; a few departments have sophomore advisers as well. Consult the YCPS.
- Departmental publications. Most departments maintain Web sites, and some publish brochures with information about their majors. Departmental Web sites often have photos and short biographies of their faculty, with current research interests.
- Departmental meetings. A number of departmental meetings take place during the days leading up to the beginning of fall-term classes. Meetings for prospective majors and interested students continue throughout the year and are posted under "Departmental Meetings and Placement" in the "Courses and Majors" section of this site.
- The online Yale Facebook includes students' majors and can be sorted by major and college. Yale's Facebook requires a netID login.
- Yale College Programs of Study has information about all majors, their prerequisites, and their requirements.
- The AYA database can be sorted by major to help you find alumni with similar interests.
- Residential college deans and masters can give you advice from their experience with Yale College and with students, as can your instructors.
Information about choosing a major
Rules about two majors
AYA database: Find out what alumni majored in and the wide variety of careers led to by those majors.