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Does Your College Major Matter?

Jun 15, 2012 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Columnist | 1 Comments

Some students know exactly what they want to do—and choosing a major is easy. Others, however, agonize over the choice. It can be difficult to choose a major, but many people wind up with jobs well outside the field they studied—enough to make students question whether it really matters what they major in. The truth is, it depends on what you plan to do after college. Here’s an overview of a few fields where your major matters—and where it doesn’t.


If you want to be an engineer, you will need to know fairly early on in your college career. In many programs, students need to start studying in this path their Freshman year in order to graduate within four years—as opposed to most other majors, where you may not have to declare until your Sophomore year.



The importance of your major depends on your future plans. Some fields practically require an undergraduate degree in a certain subject.



You can earn a Bachelor’s degree in nursing, but you don’t have to. You can also work as a nurse with an Associate’s degree or a two-year Registered Nursing program. You can also major in something entirely different and then go through the RN program—although having a background in the sciences or biology certainly helps.


You don’t have to earn your online degree in business to land a job in a company. In fact, it’s a common joke that English majors wind up working in Human Resources departments or pretty much any field except literature and writing—unless they plan to teach. While a degree in a certain area of business can give you an edge over other recent grads without that specific major—it demonstrates your commitment to the field—you can also win an internship or entry-level position with prior experience, even volunteer or internship experience, and a well-written resume.


Technically, you’re supposed to have a four-year degree in education if you want to teach in public schools. However, some states hire teachers without the four-year degree—as long as they have a degree in the subject they want to teach. You may have to complete some coursework in education first or even finish a Masters degree in education, but some states will allow you to finish it as you teach—especially if you’re working in a high-needs area.

Medical school

It’s a common preconception that you have to major in biology or some other aspect of the sciences to go to medical school. This isn’t the case—and in fact, it can actually help your application if you major in the arts, public policy, or some other subject that’s unusual among pre-med students. However, you will have to meet the medical school’s minimum requirements for prerequisite biology and other science classes—and taking classes in these areas will undoubtedly boost your scores on the MCAT.

Law school

As with med school, you don’t have to major in a pre-law area to get admitted to law school. And because many law schools seek a diverse student base, it may actually help you if you major in an area that’s unusual for law students. However, you’ll need strong reading comprehension, research, and writing skills both to pass the LSAT and succeed in law school—and you’ll have to meet the minimum prerequisites for undergraduate classes at the school you plan to attend.

The importance of your major depends on your future plans. Some fields practically require an undergraduate degree in a certain subject. Others prefer graduates with a certain degree, but you can still get a job in the area with the right experience and possibly connections. Still others are fairly open with regard to the type of major you have. Choose the major that appeals most to you—and hopefully that will lead to a career in a field you love.



Dr. T (Ph.D.) Over a year ago


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