Exploring Majors

First: Assess your interests and abilities

Art of Engineering was probably one of your first opportunities to learn more about your own interests in engineering and about each of the Columbia Engineering departments.  Now that you are about to declare your major, you will want to ensure that you are making the right decision. Below are some ideas on how to begin to assess your interests and abilities as they relate to choosing a major. We recommend you complete the following exercises:

  • List your academic interests, skills, and strengths
  • List areas that need improvement/development
  • Consider your personal study and work styles
  • List your academic and professional values in order of importance
  • Identify the characteristics you value in people that you work with
  • Keeping all of the above in mind, envision your best and worst job scenarios
  • Are you looking at majors you can be passionate about or are you thinking only of career expectations?

Second: Gather information about Majors

Read the SEAS Bulletin and departmental websites.  As you explore the websites of departments that interest you, think about the following questions:

  • What are my options? Some SEAS departments may have multiple majors or multiple tracks within a major. Keep in mind that, in addition to a major, you may pursue a minor in either another engineering or liberal arts field
  • What courses will I take? Probably the most obvious effect that major declaration will have on your time at Columbia is in your course scheduling. Therefore, you should generally like the classes that the department offers
  • Who are the faculty? Many departmental websites will provide faculty profiles. Take time to look at professors’ research interests and publications. Knowing this information will not only inform your major decision and refine your goals, but also might help break the ice when you meet a professor for the first time
  • What opportunities are available for undergraduates? Some departments have a carefully designed undergraduate research program, while others may have unique study abroad or internship opportunities

Third: Discuss your plans with your CSA Advising Dean

In planning your course of study, make sure you take note of your department’s professional level course, pre-requisites, major or track requirements, technical electives, and course offerings. You may need to choose major-specific courses as early as your first year to successfully complete some programs. Discuss your plans with your Advising Dean to make sure that you are on track both for your selected major and to complete your general SEAS first-year and sophomore requirements. Bring a written plan with you when you meet with your departmental adviser for the first time.

Think carefully and realistically about your selections, but recognize that you may make changes at any time (as long as any changes you make still mean you can graduate on time!).

Final step: Declare your major

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