Selecting and Declaring a Major

Selecting A Major

“What can I do with this major?” is a commonly asked question. Selecting a major should not become a frustrating chore. You should select a major based on your interests and talents, not because you heard you could get a high paying job. Following that path does not usually lead to academic success. If your interests and skills are not appropriate for the major, you may find yourself in academic jeopardy.

Through the advice of your undergraduate major advisor and the Career Center, you will gain valuable information about how the academic major can prepare you for your career. You can also obtain information by reading the online Undergraduate Bulletin. In addition, the two more well-known assessment tests, Strong Inventory and Meyer-Briggs Type Indicator, are excellent resources administered through the Career Center (Melville Library W-0550, 632-6810). Your responses to the questions on these assessment tests will give you valuable information about areas you may be interested in.

Some occupations do require a major specific to the job. Those who are seeking employment or a career in operating a small business should seek a degree in business. Those seeking careers in scientific research must major in the appropriate natural science. Most employers are not as concerned about the undergraduate major as they are about an applicant’s qualifications for the position being offered. It is imperative to work on developing and enhancing “human skills” such as communication skills, both written and verbal, analytical and cognitive skills. Also, explore internships, research opportunities (creative and scientific), National Student Exchange, and part-time jobs to gain valuable experience before you graduate.

Selecting the appropriate major is the first step in attaining your goal. The following information is from Your College Experience by John Gardner and A. Jerome Jewler:

TIME FOR ACTION:
In selecting a major, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Am I interested in learning about the field?
  2. Do I have the necessary skills for success?
  3. Am I gaining skills, information, and perspectives that will be helpful in my career choices?

After choosing a major, begin to learn about academic opportunities in your department. Talk with your advisor about minors, internships, independent study, international study abroad, and other options that might broaden your academic experience. For some people there is direct correlation between the major and the career; for others the choice of a major is best based on subject interest, not career considerations. If your major is not directly related to your career choices, plan to use work experience or campus activities to gain entry into your first job. Talk with faculty members about their internship experiences and areas of expertise. Ask if they are aware of careers or jobs in which the skills and knowledge can be utilized. Look at the available resources on the Academic & Transfer Advising Services’ website. Be sure to take advantage of all the opportunities and resources available here at SBU!

For more information on choosing a major and for numerous helpful links, check out the Career Center’s Website at: http://www.career.sunysb.edu/content/students/understanding-professions-and-careers 


Declaring A Major

You must satisfy the requirements of a declared major in order to earn a degree from Stony Brook University. Major requirements are detailed in the “Approved Majors, Minors, and Programs” section of the Bulletin, available at www.stonybrook.edu/ugbulletin. You must officially declare a major upon completing 45 credits toward your Stony Brook degree.

    • College of Arts & Sciences
      Select the major that most interests you, and one in which you believe you will do well academically. If you are unsure of what major to select, call Academic & Transfer Advising Services at (631) 632-7082, option 2 and make an appointment to speak with an academic advisor. Once you have decided on a major, bring the Major/Minor Declaration form to the Undergraduate Program Director or staff professional for signature. The form and Academic Major Department list are available here. Take the signed Major/ Minor Declaration Form to the Registrar’s Office, 276 Administration building. Within three days, check your Stony Brook unofficial transcript on SOLAR to ensure it was recorded correctly.
    • College of Business
      Student must meet the admissions requirements to apply to the College of Business as a major or minor. More information is available on the bulletin or in person at 109 Harriman Hall.
    • College of Engineering & Applied Sciences
      To apply to enter a major in the College of Engineering & Applied Sciences, go directly to the relevant department and meet with the Academic Major Advisor.  Majors include: Applied Mathematics & Statistics, Biomedical Engineering, Chemical and Molecular Engineering, Computer Engineering, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Engineering Science, Information Systems, Mechanical Engineering, and Technological Systems Management. After you have been admitted by the Academic Major Advisor, please visit the CEAS Undergraduate Student Office, 127 Engineering Building, for information about CEAS general education requirements which are different from those in the College of Arts & Sciences.
    • Health Sciences Center
      If you plan to major in the Bachelor of Science in Health Science, you must attend an information session. Please e-mail jaclyn.nielsen@stonybrook.edu to sign up. For details on all Health Science Center majors and programs, visit www.hsc.stonybrook.edu. Information sessions for the various majors and programs are held regularly in the Health Sciences Center.
    • School of Journalism  To declare a major in the School of Journalism bring the Major/Minor Declaration form to the Undergraduate Program Director for signature. The form and Academic Major Department list are available here. Take the signed Major /Minor Declaration Form to the Registrar’s Office, 276 Administration building. Within three days, check your Stony Brook unofficial transcript on SOLAR to ensure it was recorded correctly.
    • School of Marine & Atmospheric Science  To declare a major in the School of Marine & Atmospheric Sciences, bring the Major/Minor Declaration form to the Undergraduate Program Director for signature. The form and Academic Major Department list are available here. Take the signed Major /Minor Declaration Form to the Registrar’s Office, 276 Administration building. Within three days, check your Stony Brook unofficial transcript on SOLAR to ensure it was recorded correctly.
    • Pre-Major Area of Interest (AOI)
      If you have an AOI noted on your transcript, it is not considered an academic major by the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP). If you are a TAP recipient, you are required to officially declare a major upon earning 57 credits.

Choosing a major is very important. To help you along each fall, Academic & Transfer Advising Services sponsors the “The Major Event”. For this event, every academic department and many special interest areas such as the Career Center  and the International Academic Programs Office converge in one forum to connect with students. It is a venue where students can gather information by speaking directly with faculty, administrator, and peers regarding all of the majors and special programs offered at Stony Brook. Check the calendar for the date, time and location.