Majors and Minors: Explore, Change, Add

If you are an Exploratory student, thinking of changing your major, or want to add a minor or second major, there are several resources you can use to help you with your decision-making. Some students choose a major and later pick out a career from that major; other students may have a career in mind and pick out a major that will help them meet their goals. There are many considerations when it comes to deciding the next step in your career path, and there are numerous ways to go about it. We encourage you to utilize as many resources as you need.

Explore Academic Programs at Mason

If you want to begin with exploring majors, a great place to start is the Find Your Program page in the catalog.

  • First, filter the programs by Level by choosing “Undergraduate”.
  • You can apply any other filters you like including Theme, which is helpful if you know what areas you like and don’t like.
  • If you want to narrow your search to majors only, choose “Bachelor’s” under Degree Options.
  • If you have a major and only want to explore minors, you can select “Minor” under Degree Options.

The major pages in the catalog give you an overview of the major, a list of the major requirements, and contact information including a link to the department’s website. Many of them also provide a sample 4-year plan. If the 4-year plan is not in the catalog, check the Academic Planning and Registration page.

We also have the Majors at Mason and Minors at Mason handouts with the full list of programs and concentrations.

If you narrow down some programs or want to learn more about particular ones, you can speak with an advisor for that program. To find advisor information, check the Advisor Locator.

Exploratory Advising and Career Services
If you have many interests, are unsure of your interests, or have a career already in mind, you can meet with an Exploratory Academic Advisor and/or a Career Advisor in University Career Services to help narrow down some majors or come up with a decision-making plan. If you aren’t sure whether to speak with an Exploratory Academic Advisor or a Career Advisor, see the table below to understand the differences, and keep in mind you can make appointments with both.

  Exploratory Academic Advising Career Advising
Major decision-making
Career decision-making
Course requirements  
Academic planning  
Career assessments  
Job & Internship Search  

Career Services offers formal career assessments to help you explore your personality, interests, strengths, and skills. You can go over your results with a career advisor and see how they can apply to certain careers and industries. Assessments are free to students.

Career Services also has several online resources for you to utilize, including “What can I do with this major?” and activities within their Career Readiness Guide.

Additional Career Exploration Websites

If you want to do more career research on your own, we recommend checking out these additional websites:

Occupational Outlook Handbook
O*NET OnLine
The Princeton Review

No resource will be comprehensive as there are numerous jobs and careers, and new ones are always created, but these resources are a good place to get an idea of what is out there.

UNIV220: Decide/Confirm Major

Career Services offers a course – UNIV220: Decide/Confirm Major – that is open to first-year students and sophomores. You can take it for 0 or 1 credit.

Upon completion of UNIV 220, 93% of students felt comfortable choosing a major or narrowing their choices to 2-3 majors.

What do students say about UNIV 220?

“I declared my major at the end of this course.”

“This course did wonders for me in terms of helping me find my way. I would highly recommend it to someone trying to find a major or confused about their own.”

“It helped me find myself in relation to a major and a future career choice.”

Choosing a Major When You Are Pre-Health or Pre-Law

If you know you want to be pre-health (med, PA, PT, OT, etc.) or pre-law, generally you can choose any major you want. Graduate and professional programs want a diverse pool of applicants, and that includes educational background, which includes major. We recommend that you choose a major you will be excited about because then you are more likely to be involved outside of the classroom, earn a higher GPA, and develop better relationships with your classmates and professors, all of which are important when applying to a graduate program. Pre-health tracks have pre-requisite courses that need to be completed during undergrad that can be done with any major.

Note that pre-law and pre-health tracks are not official programs at Mason. If you want to pursue a pre-professional track, see the Advisor Locator for information on whom to contact.

There are other professions for which the above information applies to as well. Most professions that require graduate school do not require a specific undergraduate degree. There are many other considerations that are involved. Just like with pre-health, there may be pre-requisite courses or required experiences (like research), which you can complete along with the major of your choice.

Choosing a Major If You Want to Teach

If you want to be a teacher, choosing a major may or may not be a straightforward process. Your major could depend mainly on the following: what you want to teach and which level you want to teach. Other considerations include geographic location, type of school, type of teaching, etc. For example, if you want to teach at an elementary public school in Virginia, then a major in Elementary Education is recommended. If you want to teach English as a Second Language in another country, there generally isn’t a specific major required. If you want to teach a specific subject in high school, it is recommended that you major in that subject or a related one.

Different states have different licensure requirements, and certain types of schools may not require licensure. George Mason University teaching programs prepare students to be licensed in the state of Virginia, and Virginia licensure does have reciprocity in most states but not all of them.

If your teaching goals require licensure, go to this website to learn more about Teacher Preparation offered by CEHD.

How to Declare or Change Your Major

If you are unsure of which major you want to declare, change to, or add, first review the major exploration information in the previous sections on this page.

When you are ready to declare/change your major, here are the steps:

  1. Schedule an appointment with a major advisor for the major you are interested in declaring.
    1. If using NavigateMason to schedule an appointment, when selecting a Service, choose “Declare/Change Major/Minor”.
    2. If advising availability is not available in NavigateMason for your major of interest, use the Advisor Locator to find information on how to schedule a meeting.
    3. You can use the time in your meeting to discuss major requirements, get any questions you have about the major answered, and discuss prerequisites to declare the major (if there are any).
  2. Bring the Change/Declaration of Academic Program form to the advising appointment in case you are able to declare the major at that time. This form will then be submitted to the Mason Student Services Center, the office that will process the major change.

Take note that some majors have requirements/prerequisites in order to declare, and you must be in good academic standing to declare any major.

In order for your major to be declared/changed in the current semester, the change of major form must be submitted no later than the last day to add classes.

Minors, Double Majors, and Dual Degrees

Students need to have one major to graduate with a degree, but there is the option to pursue additional programs in the form of minors or second majors, which can be either double majors (where you earn one degree but complete the requirements for two majors of the same type of degree) or dual degrees (where you earn two separate bachelors degrees and need to earn at least 30 credits beyond the minimum for one degree while completing all requirements for both majors).

For additional information about minors, double majors (Credit for More than One Undergraduate Major), and dual degrees (Second Bachelor’s Degree), check the Undergraduate Policies in the catalog under “AP.5.3 Requirements for Undergraduate Programs“. Check the registrar’s website for the Minor Declaration form and the Second Degree Declaration form. To declare a double major, you would use the same form as declaring the first.