Admissions FAQ: How do I choose my major?

One of the most common questions we receive in the admissions office is which major to choose. Penn State offers more than 160 majors, so it can be overwhelming to pick just one.

In an effort to narrow them down, students and families often ask us which major is easiest or least competitive for admission. The short answer is that they are all competitive, especially at the University Park campus. The Smeal College of Business is typically our most competitive area for admission, and those majors in the College of Engineering and Eberly College of Science typically require stronger math standardized test scores and at least one-half credit of high school trigonometry, pre-calculus, or calculus. But, even with those considerations, it’s tough to pinpoint one major that’s easier than another.

With that in mind, our counselors advise students to choose a major based on their interests. For example, if you love numbers and are interested in accounting, we suggest selecting Accounting on your application rather than choosing another major because you think it may be easier to gain admission. If we’re not able to offer your first choice major, you can get in touch with us once you have your decision to discuss what other options you might have.

It’s also important to know that you are not bound to the major you select on your application. In fact, about half of Penn State students change their major at least once before graduating. Most students begin their Penn State careers in pre-major status and do not officially declare a major until the fourth semester. That means you have your first two years to make changes to your major before you need to settle on anything.

The Division of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) can be a great option for those who are trying to decide between a few majors, or who need help narrowing down their areas of interest. Students in DUS work closely with an academic adviser to determine their interests and ultimately declare a major by the end of sophomore year.

As always, don’t hesitate to contact us if you have questions about our majors or need help deciding which one will be the best fit for you!

– Jenna

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