Choosing Your Major
Choosing your major is one of the most important aspects of the undergraduate experience. It is an individual yet shared experience among undergraduate students. It is an affirmation of your academic interests as well as a testament of your goals and aspirations. It is a decision that helps address the questions, "Why go to college?" and "What do you plan to do with your college education?"
This page is designed to provide informational resources and a perspective to help you choose a major at USC.
Types of Majors
Some students know exactly what they want to do for a living and start learning the skills needed for a specific career as soon as they get to college. Others study a wide range of topics and focus on developing broader-based skills. Undergraduate majors at USC may be subdivided into three general areas: Academic majors, Professional-school majors, and Career-specific majors.
Academic majors, such as majors in the Liberal Arts, will likely provide more academic options and an opportunity to create your own career path. Liberal Arts majors provide general knowledge in the Humanities, Social Sciences and Natural Sciences. Liberal Arts majors are not career-specific but rather academic and career-oriented because students in these majors are trained to be versatile in most fields. The core skills for Liberal Arts majors are critical thinking, reading, writing, communication, interpersonal, research and cultural competency. Career opportunities for Liberal Arts majors are vast and include areas of work common to professional school majors.
Professional-school majors are designed to educate and train individuals in concentrated areas of work or occupations. For example, if a student is interested in learning about City Governance or Administration, the student may consider a major in Policy, Planning and Development. Or, a student interested in becoming a professional actor may consider majoring in Theatre. Professional-school majors lend themselves to understanding context and line of work. You are not required to have a major in one of the professional schools to work in a related field.
Career-specific majors are designed to educate and train individuals for specific careers or line of work where licensure or credentials are typically required. Both the skill sets and knowledge acquired from the undergraduate major are specifically applied to the nature of the work. More importantly, you cannot be employed in the line of work unless you have the specific education and training required.
Some areas of study are not available at the Undergraduate level. Furthermore, certain careers or work such as the Health Professions and Law require additional education and training through Graduate or Professional school. Graduate school offers far more opportunities for continuing education and career advancement. Learn more.
Transferable skills are skills that are learned in one area that can be utilized in other areas. Studies in the Liberal Arts provide a solid foundation in critical thinking, reading, writing, communication, interpersonal skills, research, and cultural competency.
So when deciding on your Major, understand that you will learn and acquire proficiency in your field-of-study and develop transferable skills.
The top 5 personal qualities/skills employers seek of prospective employees:
2. Strong work ethic
5. Interpersonal skills
As identified by The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE, 2009).
Declaring Your Major
A student may declare a major at any time, but is expected to declare a major at or before the beginning of the junior year or completion of 64 units. This allows a student sufficient time to fulfill the course requirements of their major in their third and fourth years. When a student is ready to declare, contact the respective major advisor to declare your major. Non-USC College students may declare a Dornsife College major only after meeting with a Dornsife College Admission office representative.
You are the Architect of your college experience...
Top 3 Major Myths:
1. Everyone has a major but me. REALITY: Most students, even declared majors, will change their major 2-3 times during the course of their undergraduate career.
2. My major will determine my career. REALITY: People determine careers. It is possible to work in most careers with any major.
3. Liberal Arts majors are not as employable as other majors. REALITY: Liberal Arts majors learn important transferable skills in interpersonal communication, writing, research, and critical thinking which is sought by prospective employers.
USC College Academic Clusters
African American Studies
American Studies and Ethnicity
Asian American Studies
East Asian Area Studies
East Asian Languages & Cultures
Health & Humanity
Linguistics/East Asian Languages & Cultures
Philosophy , Politics, & Law
History and Social Science Education
IR Global Business
Middle East Studies
Social Sciences (Economics Emphasis)
Social Sciences (Psychology Emphasis)
Applied & Computational Mathematics
Physics /Computer Science
USC Professional Schools
USC Leventhal School of Accounting
USC School of Architecture
USC Marshall School of Business
USC School of Cinematic Arts
USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism
Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC
USC Rossier School of Education
USC Viterbi School of Engineering
USC Roski School of Fine Arts
USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology
USC Gould School of Law
Keck School of Medicine of USC
USC Thornton School of Music
USC School of Pharmacy
USC School of Policy, Planning and Development
USC School of Social Work
USC School of Theatre