One of the most important decisions in your college education is your academic program and career path. The following steps will help ensure the major or program you choose will help you achieve your career goals.

Step 1: Know About Yourself

Consider these elements:

  • Skills and abilities: What do you do well? What are your strengths?
  • Interests: What do you enjoy doing?
  • Work values: What is most important to you? What motivates you to work?
  • Personality: What are your personal preferences?

Career Services offers a variety of resources to help you gain a better understanding of your fit within different industries and different roles. View the Tools and Resources listed in CareerQuest to find additional information.


More Resources

These articles from external websites offer more ways to learn about career options.

Step 2: Know About Your Options

Once you have clarified your self-knowledge, the next step is identifying and increasing your knowledge of your available options. Identify potential occupations and majors that match your skills, interests, values and personality. Research job descriptions, education and training requirements, salaries and the skills and personal characteristics required for specific occupations.

Ways to learn about your options:

  • Research specific occupations and majors
  • Understand how occupations, job settings and academic programs are organized
  • Research job descriptions
  • Investigate education and training options
  • Understand the skills and traits required for specific occupations

You can research UMUC's career-focused undergraduate/bachelor's and graduate/master's programs.

New Job Search and Career Planning Service for Students and Alumni

UMUC's Office of Career Services is pleased to offer Career Insider by Vault—a one-stop career resource to help you plan your best career path and prepare for that highly competitive position.

This service is available to UMUC students and alumni via CareerQuest and offers access to more than 10,000 company profiles and rankings, a fully searchable job database with thousands of listings posted daily, salary reviews and trends, and downloadable career guidebooks that cover resume and cover letter writing, interviews, top employers by industry and more!

More Resources

These articles from external websites offer more ways to learn about career options.

Step 3: Know How You Make Decisions

The next step is to make your major or career decision. You should first consider how you usually make important decisions. If you have been able to successfully make decisions in the past, then the method you used for making those decisions should be applied to your career decision-making.

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This article from an external website offers more ways to learn about career decision making.

Step 4: Think About Your Decision

Identifying and addressing any barriers to making your career decision is essential to the entire process. It is difficult to think clearly and make decisions when you are bombarded with negative thoughts that act as barriers and interfere with your decision making. To identify and overcome your barriers, you must pay attention to your self-talk, become self-aware and then control your self-talk. Once all barriers are removed, you can make a plan and carry out your decision.

Step 5: Create and Carry Out Your Plan

Take practical steps to implement your career decision.

  • If you do not have it already, pursue the education and training you need.
  • Identify opportunities that can get you the experience relevant to your career goal (such as internships, cooperative education and volunteering).
  • Get involved in professional associations and/or student organizations.
  • When you are ready to job hunt, prepare a quality resume and cover letter, and prepare for interviews.
More Resources

This article from an external career website offers more advice on decision making.

Advice for Career Changers

If you are thinking about obtaining a degree to make your career change possible, there is one major factor to consider: when entering your new career, you may experience a drastic change in salary and/or organizational status. In many cases, this may involve taking a pay cut or more entry-level position than you have now. If you are willing to accept those changes, then the next step is deciding on a major for your new career path.

Choosing a Major for Graduate Students

Choosing a graduate degree is much different than choosing an undergraduate major. Below are common scenarios you can consider when choosing a graduate program.

Tips for Experienced Professionals

Quite often, students who are looking to pursue a graduate degree have years of work experience but need the credentials of a graduate degree to advance on the job. When deciding on a graduate degree, you should be very stable in your career direction and choose a major that will complement your undergraduate degree and your work experience.

Tips for Recent Bachelor's Degree Graduates

When deciding on a graduate degree, you must evaluate your current situation and what will best complement your undergraduate degree and your career path. 

In many cases, employers are more interested in your experience (this is common in engineering and computer fields). If this is the case with your chosen career path, it is recommended to get career-related experience after completing your undergraduate degree instead of enrolling in a graduate program right away. 

After acquiring some years of experience, you can better evaluate the type of degree that is necessary to advance your career. In some cases, too much education without any career-related experience can limit your marketability. In other cases, a graduate degree is required for you to achieve your career goals (this is common in the psychology field). In this case, it is recommended that you enroll in graduate school after obtaining your undergraduate degree.