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I am choosing a major. What do I need to consider as an international student?

The Liberal Arts nature of Columbia allows students to explore different areas of academic interest before declaring a major. While there is flexibility in what you can study and pursue at Columbia, where you might head afterwards brings the reality of strategic decisions. While you are considering your major choice, think about your academic and personal passions, your career interests, and what you would like to do after graduation and where. Is a graduate degree on your mind? Do you want to work in the U.S., your home country or another country? If you are looking to gain work authorization in the U.S., you must consider how classes and majors relate to your career. While students are encouraged to major in something that interests them, major choice impacts Optional Practical Training (OPT), a benefit of F-1 student status to help you gain work experience in an area related to your field of study. You major may also impact your application for a visa to work in the United States after graduation. Because there are several factors at play here (the student’s interests, the employer’s interests and immigration law), advanced planning and research is a must. The good news is there are options to explore and resources to help inform your path. One-on-one conversations with an adviser from CCE, CSA, or ISPS supplement your research and can help pinpoint your interests. As CC and SEAS students you may use both Going Global and Uniworld (same log-in as SSOL) to a view a list of companies that sponsored H1-B working visas in the past year or research U.S. firms that operate abroad, foreign firms that operate in the U.S. Attend ISSO sessions with an immigration attorney in the fall or spring of your first or second year to gain an understanding about the process early on.

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