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Majors, Minors, and Certificates

What are Majors, Minors, and Certificates?

A Major is a specific subject area that you specialize in.  It is the subject or area in which you will take the largest number of courses to make up the 120 credits required to graduate with a bachelor’s degree. All students must choose a major.

You can (but do not have to) choose a Minor, which is a declared secondary field of study or specialization that includes considerably fewer credits than the major.

Some programs also offer certificate programs that you can (but do not have to) choose. Certificate programs offer you an alternative academic credential to the lengthier undergraduate or graduate degree programs. The coursework of such programs tends to be compressed, focusing almost entirely on a specific topic. 

When Should You Choose Your Major?

Begin thinking about a major BEFORE you enroll!  Keep thinking about a major as you take courses beginning in your first year. The more you think, the sooner you can decide. If you are not sure what major you should choose, narrow your thinking to several possibilities.  One might be a Minor. You can choose a minor before you choose a major.

Many students change majors and minors as they discover more about themselves and their interests. Bear in mind that, the earlier you choose, the easier it is to change.

Why choose early?  When you choose a major, you will have a major advisor in a department who can guide your academic and career choices.  Students without majors use general advising (see the Advising Office). Students who have chosen a major can see both a general advisor and their major advisor.

You should choose a major (and, if you want to, a minor) during your sophomore year (when you have 30 credits, but before 60). If you receive TAP support, then you must declare a major by the time you reach 60 credits. See this checklist for detailed information about what you should do in your Sophomore Year.

Transfer students follow this same timetable: If you come with less than 60 previous credits, but more than 15, you should be thinking already about a program or major subject; if you come with 60 or more credits, and you expect to have TAP assistance, you need to declare a major immediately. Even if you do not have a TAP award, it is still advisable to declare a major as soon as you can, and absolutely within your first transfer semester at Lehman.

How Do I Choose My Major?

Choosing a major means deciding what subjects you like and are good at, and identifying what career or professional plans you have. Here is an analysis of what majors support what careers: “What can I do with this major?”.

Talk with your instructors after class or during their office hours; ask their opinion and suggestions. They are your best resource in deciding what to choose as a major and minor.

What are your choices?  See this list of Majors, Minors and Related Disciplines. Note, that many of the majors are also available as minors; some of the subjects are available only as minors: see the qualifications under the subjects.)

Visit the departments where you might major and discuss the major requirements with a department advisor. For starters, refer to list of the major requirements from the Undergraduate Bulletin or the Major Academic Plans (LINK).

Use Degree Works to see how the major requirement will fit into what you have taken so far. Degree Works will show you what courses you need to take “If you choose this major” – the “What If” feature.  Degree Works can also help you plan for a minor, if you wish to declare one. Here is information on Degree Works.

How to Declare a Major?

To declare a major or minor, pick up the appropriate form in the Registrar's Office (Shuster Hall, Room 106), get a signature from the appropriate department, and return the form to Shuster Hall, Room 106. Click here for more information.

Many departments have their own checklists and forms for majors; be sure to ask about the department’s lists and forms and use them when you visit your major advisor.  Use the same method to choose and declare your Minor, if you choose to do so. The earlier you declare a minor, the more flexibility  you will have to  choose  courses  and  complete  all  your  requirements  in  the  most efficient and quickest way!

Always …

Check with your advisor(s) each semester before registering for the next semester. Be sure you know ALL the graduation requirements - for General Education, for your Major, and, if applicable, for your Minor and for any special programs.

Academic Programs

Major Maps are detailed, undergraduate four-year academic plan outlines that inform you on the classes you should take and when to take them. They provide information on both, core requirements for all undergraduate students and courses in your major. Please note that these are only meant to provide guidance and, particularly if you transferred from another college, your individual plan can look different. Read More

Degree Maps

Degree Maps are suggested academic plans to assist you and your advisor with creating a term-by-term path to graduation. All students should speak with a faculty or professional advisor about their academic programs to assist them with a successful plan for degree completion. Degree Maps can help you:

  • Prepare for an advising session
  • Create a personalized long-term educational plan
  • Ensure on time graduation
  • Make informed decisions about careers

Get more information on Degree Maps