As a sophomore, you will continue the process of exploration that leads to selecting a major and joining that department or program. As early as the summer after your first-year–but by March–you'll declare a major and celebrate this important academic milestone.

Close Up of Cherry Blossoms on West Campus in Spring

Choosing a major that inspires your curiosity and motivates your learning will make your academic path rewarding, meaningful, and fulfilling. Genuine interest leads to greater involvement, which in turn can lead to more opportunities both pre- and post-graduation. Remember too that specific majors don’t lead to specific places, so whatever you choose, your post-graduation options are not limited by that choice.

Talking to professors, advisors, and alumni is a great way to learn about how different people's academic paths influenced their lives and careers. As you explore your intended major, start by reflecting on your experience at Duke so far. A great first step is to complete the Rising Sophomore Questions. You can find these in DukeHub under Major Declaration, on the Academics tab.

Resources to Help You Choose Your Major

DukeHub has two tools you can use to map out future semesters - the What-If report, and the Planner. You can use these tools to compare different major paths and see what courses you'd need to complete requirements.

The What-If tool is a way to see how your current classes are meeting Trinity requirements and the requirements of any major you might be considering. 

  1. Go to DukeHub > Academics > What If tool
  2. Select the Create Report button and complete the Career and Program Scenario sections (i.e Career Scenario=Undergraduate, Program=Trinity, Plan Type=Major, Plan= Computer Science, Add Scenario=Minor in English)
  3. Submit your Report, then view it as a PDF

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

The second tool is called the Planner. This allows you to map out exactly what classes you'd need in future semesters to meet all Trinity and major requirements.

  1. Go to DukeHub > Enrollment > Planner
  2. Add classes you'd need to meet the requirements for your desired major(s) and assign them to future semesters so you can see how your remaining semesters might look if you selected this major
  3. Run a What If report to see how your planned semesters will meet major and Trinity requirements

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.


Field of Wildflowers

When you join a department as a major, you have an opportunity to join a community that includes faculty, graduate students, post-docs, administrators and fellow undergraduates, all of whom can help you connect with the intellectual foundations of the discipline. Your major can provide a framework for exploring and choosing among opportunities that enhance your Duke education including studying abroad, mentored research, independent study, and other co-curricular experiences.

After you declare, your major department will make you eligible to enroll each semester. Different departments have different procedures for how you are assigned an advisor and who makes you eligible to enroll–but they will reach out and let you know what to expect. Remember that the AAC provides specialized  and general advising even after you've declared your major. You can schedule a meeting anytime.

You can declare your major any time during your sophomore year but no later than the Friday before mid-semester break during your fourth semester of enrollment. 

  • If your fourth semester at Duke is spring semester (as is for most students), the deadline to declare is the Friday before spring break. 
  • If your fourth semester at Duke is fall semester, the deadline to declare is the Friday before fall break.

If you haven’t declared a major by your deadline, the Academic Advising Center will send you an e-mail reminder to schedule an appointment with your college advisor and complete the declaration process as soon as possible. Students who remain undeclared will have a dean’s block placed on their registration and will not be able to enroll in classes for the following semester. Sophomores who have plans to study abroad or participate in DukeEngage in the summer or semester after the declaration deadline may become ineligible for their program if they fail to declare by the deadline.

If you are having problems that prevent you from declaring your major by the deadline, it is important that you contact your academic dean.

There are two types of Interdepartmental Majors with slightly different declaration procedures. See the instructions below for each type.

Student-Proposed IDMs
To declare an IDM, you must develop a written plan for your program of study, give your IDM a descriptive title, and work with the directors of undergraduate studies in both departments to put together a cogent list of courses for the major that they will approve. You will specify which department is considered "primary." In considering your proposal, the Directors of Undergraduate Studies should collaborate to insure that your IDM is rigorous and coherent. After you complete the IDM application and have both directors of undergraduate studies and advisors sign the application, submit the signed form to Academic Dean Liguo Zhang for final approval, and processing. After your IDM has been officially declared, you will meet with your IDM advisors each semester to discuss courses for the upcoming semester and be made eligible to enroll.

For more information on the requirements for an Interdepartmental Major go here.

If you're planning to declare an IDM but won't have time to go through the process or have your proposal approved before the major declaration deadline, you must declare a regular major, even if you're planning to change it later. Choose one of the majors from your intended IDM, and follow the instructions on the major declaration page.    

FORM: IDM Application

Departmental IDMs  
These IDMs are programmed into DukeHub so you will follow the same instructions for major declaration as a standard major.

Program II
To learn more about Program II and to apply, please visit their site. If you're planning to declare a Program II major but won't have time to go through the process or have your proposal approved before the major declaration deadline, you must declare a regular major, even if you're planning to change it later. Choose whatever major is closest to your proposed Program II, and follow the instructions on the major declaration page.  

Once you have declared your major, you may change, add, or delete a major, minor, or certificate through the Office of the University Registrar.  A form is available online.  You do not have to resubmit a Major Declaration Form after your initial declaration.

directors of undergraduate study & faculty

Among Duke's faculty are directors of undergraduate studies (DUSs) in every department and program. In addition to overseeing major advising, a department's DUS is the person to contact to learn more about a major that you are considering.

The most knowledgeable resource about a field of study at Duke is right in front of you—the faculty member leading your class. Duke faculty members are teachers committed to giving students individual attention. We encourage you to get to know Duke faculty and seek mentors. A faculty mentor can help you identify courses that are most interesting to you, engage you in conversations that will make what you’re learning more relevant to your life and help you develop and realize career goals and paths.

You can visit your professor's office hours, make an appointment with a faculty member or invite her or him for a free meal (FLUNCH). You can also engage faculty in a less formal environment through the Faculty-in-Residence and Faculty Outings programs.

major advisors

After declaring your major, you will be assigned an advisor in your major department. 

Learn about advising in your major department.