Choosing a Major
Choosing a major is both a milestone and a process.
You may have had an academic direction in mind since high school and find declaring a college major to be a seamless transition. Or you aren't certain of a major until after arriving at college. A majority of students change their intended major at least once.
HOW TO DISCERN A MAJOR
Everyone goes through the process of choosing a major through their own way and in their own time. Remember that you are not choosing a lifetime career path, but an undergraduate academic program. Whether you are decided, undecided or somewhere in between, Hope offers a variety of resources to help you better understand yourself, clarify your goals and declare a major that is a great fit for you. Take advantage of these resources, and, especially, talk through the decision with your academic advisor.
- PERSONAL AWARENESS
Your foundation in choosing a major is to explore and consider your strengths, preferences, interests and goals. You might, for example, talk with your advisor about:
- What types of things excite you
- When you have you enjoyed seeing your strengths and skills at work
- How you have grown in the past couple years
- Whether you bring any specific life goals with you to college
- What academic and intellectual topics you find most interesting
- What values are most important to you
TAKE AN ASSESSMENT
Hope’s career counselors and the Boerigter Center for Calling and Career are available to help you further your self-awareness. They offer personality and interest assessments, along with many other tools to help you in your path of deciding on a major.
- EDUCATIONAL AWARENESS
KNOW YOUR OPTIONS
Aligning your strengths, preferences, interests and goals with your academic major will increase the likelihood that you will be invigorated by your field of study. View Hope’s academic programs to know your options, and explore careers through the Boerigter Center for Calling and Career.
EXPLORING WITH YOUR COURSE SELECTIONS
Take classes from a variety of subjects to help focus your interests. Take advantage of the variety in Hope’s curriculum and strategically select general education courses that align with potential interests you want to explore. Set up a meeting with a professor in an academic area you are interested in to learn more about the program.
EXPLORING THROUGH EXPERIENCE
Experiences beyond a traditional classroom are key to testing your interests and further developing your strengths. Consider volunteering, student clubs and leadership, informational interviews, internships and international study.
- PROFESSIONAL AWARENESS
KNOW YOUR OPTIONS
Explore “What Can I Do With A Major In...?” on the Boerigter Center website. The interests and skills you cultivate in your Hope courses can be applied in many different professions.
You can also learn about the work environment, required skills and preparation, and the future outlook for thousands of different professions at the Occupational Outlook Handbook. The Boerigter Center for Calling and Career offers additional job prep resources such as resume review, networking and interviewing training, and graduate school and job search resources.
- VOCATIONAL AWARENESS
The deepest vocational question is not ‘What ought I to do with my life?’ It is the more elemental and demanding ‘Who am I? What is my nature?’ —Parker Palmer
MORE THAN A CAREER
“Vocation” or “calling” is more than discovering a career or academic program that suits you. Your jobs may change throughout your life, but your vocation is who you are and your unique combination of strengths and interests. This is part of all the roles you participate in, whether in your academics, family, profession, volunteering or other places. Frederick Buechner, a well-known writer, describes vocation as, “The place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
In addition to discerning your academic major, we want you to embrace a larger sense of life purpose. Hope is ready to support you in learning your strengths, interests and values. Ultimately, we want to help you discover ways to use them to make a difference in your community, profession and the world.
You are invited to make an appointment with Dr. Ryan White, Director of Academic Advising, to further explore your sense of vocation. We may have conversations about self-awareness and life view, as well as do exploratory personality and strengths assessments. If you are in the midst of changing a major, you may find these foundational ideas helpful in transitioning to a new path.
- MAKING YOUR CHOICE
There is no reason to feel rushed to declare a major. Take time to consider and use the above resources to help you make your decision. Some majors such as special education, music, engineering and some health sciences recommend certain classes in the first semester, but most majors do not have any first semester requirements. Most programs can still be completed in four years if you declare your sophomore (and in some cases, junior) year.
Most students at Hope have declared their major program by the end of their sophomore year.
However, there is also no need to delay. If you are at least 50% sure of a major, go ahead and declare it. It is often impossible to be 100% certain until you get involved in the major, try it out and build relationships with the faculty and other students. If you later discover that it is not the major for you, you can simply undeclare that major and declare a different one.
Read more below for details on the process of completing a major declaration.
You may declare a major after your first semester. For most majors, it is as simple as submitting a completed major declaration form to the academic department for chairperson approval. The approved form will then be sent to the Registrar’s Office to be applied to your record and your advisor will be changed. Some departments or majors have a few other requirements in addition to the form (see below).
To undeclare a major or minor, simply fill out the appropriate declaration form and check the “Undeclare a major/minor” box on the form.
- ART AND ART HISTORY
- Art education
- Art history
- Art studio
- BIOCHEMISTRY AND MOLECULAR BIOLOGY
- Biology education
- Chemistry education
- Chemistry with biochemistry emphasis – ACS approved
- Chemistry – ACS approved
Submit your major declaration form to the department assistant, Donna Sova, Schaap Science Center 3103, for department chairperson approval. You can discuss your options with a chemistry faculty member.
Submit your major declaration form to the department assistant, Linda Koetje, Martha Miller 107 or to the department chairperson, Choonghee Han, Martha Miller 122. Majors must complete an academic internship (Comm 399) during their junior or senior year and must maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0 in the major to qualify for the internship program.
- COMPUTER SCIENCE
- Dance dual major
- Dance education K–12
- Dance performance/choreography
Submit your major declaration form to the Department of Dance, 1st floor of the Dow Center.
- ECONOMICS AND BUSINESS
- Accounting/business double major
- Public accounting
- Public accounting/business double major
- Business/economics double major
Submit your major declaration form to the Department of Economics and Business, 1st floor of Van Zoeren Hall.
- Comprehensive education K–8
- Comprehensive education K–8 (early childhood education)
- English language arts elementary education
- Integrated science group elementary education
- Integrated science secondary with biology emphasis
- Integrated science secondary with chemistry emphasis
- Integrated science secondary with geology emphasis
- Integrated science secondary with physics emphasis
- Social studies composite – secondary education
- Social studies group elementary education
- Special education emotionally impaired K–12 (secondary)
- Special education learning disabilities K–12 (secondary)
- Special education emotionally impaired (elementary)
- Special education learning disabilities (elementary)
Submit your major declaration form to the Department of Education, 2nd floor of Van Zoeren Hall. It is recommended that you declare your major as soon as you determine it so that you can be advised by a faculty member within the department. Prior to being admitted to the education program, the department will have a list of requirements that need to be completed (one of which is submitting the major declaration form).
- Engineering science
- Engineering – ABET approved (no concentration)
- Engineering – ABET approved with one of the following concentrations:
Submit your major declaration with specified concentration, if applicable, to the Department of Engineering, VanderWerf 204.
- English – writing emphasis
- English – secondary education
- GEOLOGICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES
- Geology education
- History education
Submit your major declaration form to the department assistant, Raquel Niles, Lubbers 338.
- INTERNATIONAL STUDIES COMPOSITE
- Exercise science
- Physical education K–12
- Mathematics – elementary education
- Mathematics – secondary education
- MODERN AND CLASSICAL LANGUAGES
- Classical studies
- French education
- Global French studies
- German education
- Japanese studies composite
- Latin education
- Spanish education – K–12 (elementary track)
- Spanish education – K–12 (secondary track)
- Spanish education (secondary)
Submit your major declaration form to the Department of Modern and Classical Languages, 2nd floor of Martha Miller.
- Music education – instrumental
- Music education – vocal
- Music performance
- Music performance – jazz
- Music performance – organ
- Music Performance – piano
- Music Performance – violin/viola
- Music Performance – voice
In addition to submitting the major declaration form to the Department of Music, Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts, submit a brief statement about your goals and reasons for pursuing a music major.
To declare a major in nursing, you must first be accepted into the nursing program. Admission to the nursing program occurs twice a year and application materials must be received by February 1 or October 1 to receive a response prior to registration for the following semester.
- Physics education
- POLITICAL SCIENCE
- Religion – biblical studies
- Religion – Christian history and theology
- Religion – ethics, culture and social witness
- SOCIAL WORK – CSWE APPROVED
- Complete SWK 241 – Introduction to Social Welfare.
- Maintain an overall GPA of 2.5 and a 2.7 GPA in first- and second-year social work required courses.
- Meet with a faculty member.
- Admission to the social work major occurs twice a year, immediately after completion of SWK 241. Social Work Major Application materials must be received by February 15 of your first year or October 15 of your second year.
- Admission to the program is not guaranteed.
- Sociology – criminal justice emphasis
You are strongly encouraged to meet with a department faculty member prior to submitting your major declaration form to the Department of Sociology, Van Zoeren 261.
Submit your major declaration form to the Department of Theatre, 2nd floor of the DeWitt Center. Once declared, you will meet with your theatre advisor to complete a major contract.
- WOMEN’S AND GENDER STUDIES