Choosing a Major

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 inborn preferences?

Career Services offers a variety of resources to help you gain a better understanding of your personality type, interests, skills and work-related values.

The following resources are available to students and alumni:

  • Strong Interest Inventory. This online assessment measures interests related to a broad range of occupations, work activities, leisure activities and academic subjects. It provides a detailed print-out of interests and how they score on six occupational themes (realistic, artistic, investigative, conventional, social and enterprising). This 291-item inventory is available online and takes about 30 minutes to complete. A follow-up appointment is required to discuss and receive the results. There is a $15 charge for the assessment. Requires an in-person or telephone appointment. Call 240-684-2720 for an appointment.
  • Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). The MBTI is an personality assessment that will assist in identifying your personality type, which in many cases can be directly related to your career interests. Through this assessment, you will explore your personality, and a career counselor can help you develop a career path that will complement your personality. There is a $15 charge for the assessment. Requires an in-person or telephone appointment. Call 240-684-2720 for an appointment.
  • CareerLeader. Designed by career psychologists at the Harvard Business School, CareerLeader offers a personalized, online self-assessment, turning insights about your skills and passions into concrete recommendations for your business career path. Used by over 93 percent of the world's top business schools, CareerLeader will:
    • Provide expert assessments of your unique pattern of business-relevant interests, motivators and skills.
    • Match you to 33 business-related careers when compared to our database of hundreds of thousands of business professionals.
    • Help you understand what organizational cultures will be the best fit for you.
    • Offer concrete advice for planning and implementing strategies to achieve your career goals, like time-tested interview tips, industry sketches and much more.

CareerLeader is intended for business and MBA students, but may also be helpful to undecided students. To access the CareerLeader assessment tool, contact Career Services at careerservices@umuc.edu or 240-684-2720. There is no charge to use CareerLeader.

More Resources

These articles from external Web sites offer more ways to research careers based on your interests.

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!

Get details.

More Resources

These articles from external Web sites 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.

More Resources

These articles from external Web sites offer 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

These articles from external career Web sites offer more advice on decision making.

Get Started

Talk to a Career Counselor
CareerQuest