How to Choose a Major

Southern Miss offers more than 140 undergraduate majors through its six academic colleges. If you know what you want to major in right off the bat, that's great. Sign yourself up. But what if you're unsure? What if you want to double major but don't know how to decide? What if you're interested in a particular career path but don't know what to major in to help you get there? And what if you don't have any idea what major will end up being right for you?

Don't worry: you're not alone. It's not at all uncommon for students to take a number of their core classes before deciding on a major, or for students to change majors once they find something that really excites them. There are a number of ways you can explore different majors, and there are people on campus who can help. Here are some tips on how to go about finding the perfect major:

 

Explore the Options Online

A good place to start is to explore the information on the university website, which lists all the majors and shows you the various degree plans. You can search Southern Miss majors by the following:

You can also visit department websites, where you can find more detailed information about the department, such as course descriptions, events, clubs, and various majors within a single department. To visit department websites, choose a college below. The departments in each college will be listed in the menu. You can also search the A-Z Index if you know the name of the department you're looking for.

 

Contact the Department(s)

Once you find a major or two or three that sounds interesting, contact the department using the Contact Us link on the department website. Let them know that you're interested in changing your major, and ask for an appointment to talk to an academic advisor. Advisors can give you much more information about the major, and can give you an idea of what careers you might pursue with a degree in their department.

 

Visit Career Services

The team at Career Services provides personalized, one-on-one counseling and helps students understand more about their personalities, interests and values and how this information relates to careers and majors. Counselors can also provide support through the decision-making process, conquering career and graduate school fears and setting appropriate goals. Students may schedule an appointment for a career assessment, including the Strong Interest Inventory or FOCUS. You can visit Career Services in McLemore Hall 125, or call for an appointment at 601.266.4153. If you have a quick question, you can email a Career Services expert at cpp@usm.edu.

 

Exploratory Studies

Exploratory Studies, housed in the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, provides an academic home for first year students who have not completed all their core classes yet and are undecided about what they want to major in. Students in Exploratory Studies will:

  • complete the University general education curriculum
  • explore introductory major courses and general electives
  • learn information about University majors and degrees
  • complete assessments to guide them in their research on majors
  • communicate with departments about potential majors
  • find an academic balance that will lead to success

Note that once have finished taking your core classes (general education curriculum), you will need to declare a major, as Exploratory Studies is not a degree-granting department.

 

Talk to Your Advisor

Your advisor's primary area of expertise is in his/her own department, but he/she will be able to talk to you about what your options are if the major you're currently in is not working for you, and can suggest similar majors that might be better suited to your interests and talents.