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Introduction: Choosing a Major

Choosing a major is an important step in your academic career. You should give yourself ample time to explore majors and the program offerings of Harpur College. In doing so, you should consider how a program of study will complement your interests, proficiencies, goals, and career aspirations. There are many tools and services available to you when making the decision. Read through this guide to learn more about this important step, and how you can move closer to making a decision.

Use the Curriculum to Your Advantage.

The General Education Program provides exposure to broad areas of learning. These requirements provide a general introduction to the Harpur College curriculum and can provide a basis for choosing a major or program of study. Focus on your strengths and proficiencies as you pursue your General Education Requirements. Remember, your General Education requirements will overlap with your major or Harpur College requirements, so there is generally no need to be concerned about time constraints. The broad curriculum is intentionally and thoughtfully designed to be a developmental decision-making tool.

Seek Advice.

While at Harpur College, you are able to seek academic advice on planning your program of study from several sources: Academic Advising, academic departments, and individual faculty members. We will help guide you toward a planned and organized program, not a random selection of courses. Choosing your major and your course of study is one of the most important decisions you will make in your academic career. Harpur College faculty and staff are here to assist you with this important step, as are many other University offices and programs. We will introduce you to some of these resources, as well as strategies for making a decision.

When to Declare?

We expect your decision to be thoughtful and measured. Consequently, you are not expected to immediately declare a major. In fact, you have several semesters to make a decision. In most cases, you will declare your major program by your fifth semester....or the traditional start of the Junior year. Once you declare a major, you will be assigned a faculty academic adviser within the major department program. You will consult with the faculty advisor when seeking information about, and guidance in, the major. The Academic Advising Office remains available throughout your education to provide information about general education, writing requirements, co-curricular opportunities, further program development, and the broader aspects of your undergraduate degree.

Degrees Offered.

In addition to the bachelor of arts (BA) degree, Harpur College offers a bachelor of music (BMus) and bachelor of science (BS) degree in some fields. The general education requirements for these degrees are the same, but more courses are specified for major requirements for a BS degree than for a BA degree. Whereas no more than 15 courses may be required for a major program leading to the BA, a minimum of 16 courses is required for a major program leading to the BS. Except for interdisciplinary programs, such as biochemistry and integrative neuroscience, every department that offers the BS also offers the BA. More courses are also required for the BMus degree. Within an academic program, you must choose whether to earn a BA, BMus or BS degree, since two Harpur degrees may not be earned simultaneously. Note that although you may receive only one degree from Harpur College, you may have two majors or more. Most departments of Harpur College are contained administratively within three principal divisions: humanities (including fine arts), science and mathematics, and social sciences. For most matters, the principal academic and administrative unit is the department. Several interdisciplinary major programs are not attached to any division. You will ordinarily pursue academic major programs supervised by a department, although several interdepartmental majors and Harpur College programs are available.

Reviewing Information.

We encourage you to thoroughly explore the programs available to you in Harpur College. Our Undergraduate Bulletin -- which serves as the official guide to our programs, degree requirements and University policy -- will be your primary resource and your official record for degree requirements. Departments also maintain information regarding their degree programs and course offerings. You may also find our Majors and Programs area of the Harpur College Academic Advising website useful as you seek out information and explore requirements for majors, minors and concentrations.

Move On: Helping you Decide

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Last Updated: 12/5/14