Choosing Your Major

Choosing a major is an important milestone in your undergraduate career, so before making a decision you should give yourself enough time to learn about Duke’s major offerings and consider how different majors complement your strengths, interests and plans for the future.

By exploring disciplines through coursework and talking with your college advisor, peer success leaders, directors of academic engagement, faculty, and others in your advising network, you will continue to inform your thinking about major selection.

If you already have a good sense of where your interests lie, it’s helpful to talk to the director of undergraduate studies in departments you are interested in to learn more about their majors and major requirements.

If you're still unsure about your major, there's still time to explore options through coursework and conversations with members of your advising network, and by taking advantage of the many resources available.

Resources to Help You Choose Your Major

All professionals, peers and faculty within your advising network can assist you with your decision. These include:

Your College Advisor: 

With knowledge of your academic interests and course history, your college advisor can be a good sounding board as you consider majors that appeal to you and evaluate which courses are helping you engage in a discipline and grow intellectually.

Peers and Peer Success Leaders: 

You can learn a lot about different majors and undergraduate programs from juniors and seniors, including the Peer Success Leaders. We also encourage you to ask current students about their experiences in their major departments.

Directors of Academic Engagement (DAE): 

DAEs can help you think through your choices when you’re considering many different majors and how you fit in extra and co-curricular activities. The disciplinary DAEs can give you a strong understanding of different departments within the Arts & Humanities, the Natural & Quantitative Sciences, and the Social Sciences.

You can find detailed information about different majors, minors and certificates on either the Trinity pages, or the Individual department and program websites. There you’ll find course requirements, detailed overviews of their policies, advising, and opportunities. Many departments and programs also provide major and minor worksheets that you can use to plan your course work. Departments’ directors of undergraduate studies oversee major advising and are available to field your questions. 

In October, the Academic Advising Center welcomes departments and programs from across the university to its AAC Majors Fair. You’ll have the opportunity to meet representatives from all majors, minors and certificate programs, and learn more about their programs. 

The Career Center provides information on how different Duke majors might relate to future careers and professional goals. They also offer counseling and other resources on choosing a major with a career path in mind.

You can also explore different Career Communities to learn about internships, jobs and opportunities in different areas.

Choosing a Major: Questions to Ask Yourself
  • If I were to choose a major at this moment, what would it be and why?
  • What skills do I want to learn in order to prepare for a career?
  • If I could do one thing for free, what would it be?
  • What can I see myself doing for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week?
  • What are the positive/negative sides of choosing this major?
  • What jobs/hobbies/extracurricular activities have I enjoyed the most so far?
  • How would I spend my time if money didn't matter?
  • What are my goals at Duke? What are my goals in my career and life? How can they coexist?
  • What is my gut feeling telling me regarding major choice?
  • Have I talked to anyone in the majors I am considering?
  • Have I meet a Duke alum yet, and asked them what they studied?
  • Have I looked at Duke alumni on LinkedIn and/or the Duke Alumni Network to see their majors and different positions?
  • What interests do I want to explore?
  • Are there any problems I would like to address or solve? How might what I study factor in to my ability to tackle those problems?
  • What have I been successful in so far? (You can measure this success by coursework you've taken, organizations you've founded or been a part of, athletics, or by utilizing a particular skillset.)
  • What subjects do I like the most? Do these subjects come naturally to me?
Choosing a Major: Questions to Ask Departments or Advisors
  • Does this major allow for research, study abroad, and/or internships/fellowships?
  • Why do students select this major?
  • What kind of relationship do your professors have with your majors?
  • What are the implications of majoring in this subject versus minoring in it?
  • How much flexibility does this major have? (Consider those college/life/career goals)
  • What are the specific course requirements for this major?
  • Are there scholarships/funding available specifically for students in this major?
  • What skills will this major help me develop?
  • What kinds of jobs do students with this major typically pursue?
  • What sort of jobs have your previous majors gotten that have surprised you and what skills did they use from your major?
  • Is graduate school usually required to work in the fields associated with this major?

DukeHub has two tools you can use to see what your future semesters might look like, depending on what you chose to major in. You can also use these tools to compare different major paths.

The What If tool (under Academics in DukeHub) is a way to see how your current classes are meeting Trinity requirements and the requirements of any major you might be considering.  Select the Create Report button, and then complete the Career and Program Scenario sections.

Career Scenario=Undergraduate
Program=Trinity
Plan Type=Major
Plan=Select your possible major from drop down menu
Add Scenario=Second major, minor or certificate

Submit your Report, and then view it as a PDF.


Now you can see how your past classes are meeting Trinity and major requirements, and what other classes you'd need to complete this major. You can try this with as many major options as you like.

The next step is to use the Planner (DukeHub, Enrollment) to add classes that you'd need for different possible majors. Add the classes that will meet major requirements, and assign them to future semesters so you can see how your remaining semesters might look if you selected this major.

Now you can go run a What If report, and it will show you how your planned semesters will meet major and Trinity requirements which will give you a good sense of whether it's a good option for you.

You can try this as often as you like, deleting the Planned classes, and adding classes to meet different major requirements. You can save the PDF What If reports to compare later.