Declaring your major

Major declaration

One of the learning goals of a St. Lawrence education is "a depth of understanding in at least one field." By February of your sophomore year, you must declare a major. A second major and/or minor may be declared at that time or later, if desired.

Your major at a liberal arts college need not be directly tied to a specific career path. Because the focus of your education is on developing the adaptive critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills that will help you in any profession, you should choose a major whose content excites you. Students (and their families) sometimes erroneously assume that particular majors lead to better job prospects after graduation, but the data do not support that belief. While students in some majors can expect to have a higher starting salary right out of college than others, mid-career salaries are similar across majors. The greatest booster of long-term salary is completing graduate training after an undergraduate degree. Given this, you should major in what you love!

If you do not know what you want to major in by the fall of your sophomore year, you should review your transcript and reflect on which classes stimulated and inspired you the most and which ones seemed to help you understand the world better. You should also discuss your passions and academic trajectory with your academic advisor, who might be able to offer insights that will help you decide. Any work you have done with Career Services or Career Connections might also help you figure out the best major for you.

Once you have decided on a major, you need to find an academic advisor in the relevant department for your major. Unless your current academic advisor is in that department, this will mean changing advisors. Choose an academic advisor whose classes you have found stimulating or with whom you already have a strong connection. Most important is that you find someone with whom you can cultivate a relationship of openness and trust, so that you feel comfortable going to her or him with your questions and seeking advice about your future. If the professor you ask is able to be your advisor, you should plan an initial meeting with her or him in office hours to discuss major requirements and your long-term academic and non-academic plans.

To delcare the major, you must submit a major declaration form, which requires signatures from your new major advisor and the chair of your major department. The form does not require the signature of your old advisor, but please notify him or her of your major declaration and offer thanks for the advising you have received. If you wish to retain your old advisor as an additional advisor after major declaration, fill out the bottom portion of the form and circle "Add a second advisor."

Students who fail to declare a major by February of the sophomore year will receive an "advising hold" which will prevent them from registering for courses for the next semester until they have declared a major or have reached an understanding with the Associate Dean for Academic Advising Programs.

All students must complete at least one major with a 2.0 major grade point average as a graduation requirement.

Owing to the value of breadth in a liberal arts education, students are not allowed to take more than fourteen courses—just under half of their program—in one department.

Combined and Interdisciplinary Majors and Multi-Field Majors

In addition to stand-alone departmental majors, there are a number of possibilities for combined and interdisciplinary majors. Consult the full list of majors and minors for all of the options.

It also possible to design a major oneself, combining at least two programs or departments. Students who wish to pursue this option must write a multi-field major proposal and submit it to the Academic Advising Committee for its approval. Contact the Associate Dean for Academic Advising Programs for information on the procedures for pursuing this major option.

Minors

Minors are not required but are offered by most departments and programs. These need to be declared by submitting a minor declaration form. Students with a single major may elect up to two minor fields; students with a double or combined major may elect one minor field.

 Additional Reading:

For more information on Majors and Minors at St. Lawrence, see pages 8-11 of the 2017-2018 University Catalog.