Discerning Majors & Minors

Your coursework informs, not defines, your future.

Your academic endeavors will provide opportunities to gain knowledge and develop skills that will help you be a powerful means for good. While some majors offer direct pathways to particular careers, developing skills outside of the classroom will enable you to pursue a wider variety of opportunities. 

Take the time to reflect and discern

Whatever your reason is for selecting a major, take the time to think about questions like:

  • What excites me the most about this subject?
  • What do I hope to learn from pursuing this area of study? 
  • What are my future life goals? How can this area of study help me achieve my goals?
  • What types of careers have students pursued as a result of studying this particular major?
  • What types of courses are available, and what courses would I be expected to complete?
  • Does this major offer me the flexibility to pursue other interests (minors, other courses, study abroad, etc.)?
  • How much flexibility is there if I choose to pursue a different major?
  • Are there other similar majors?
  • What skills do I need to be successful in this major?

To help you decide which major to pursue, we have gathered advice from academic advisors, juniors, seniors, alumni and recruiters. Here are three common themes they've said about discerning an academic major:

  • You will enjoy learning and perform better if you study subjects that interest you. A major should be something you want to spend most of your time and energy studying.
  • Be careful not to select a particular major that you think will help you get your dream job. There are many paths to achieve your goals.
  • Get advice from an academic advisor before pursuing a double major or multiple minors.
  • If you do not have enough elective credits to pursue a minor, you can still take a variety of courses that interest you.

3 steps to help with your discernment

Here is a helpful framework to help answer the questions presented above.

Research a variety of majors and minors

Explore Notre Dame's 60+ majors and 70+ minors using our two, interactive directories that provdie brief descriptions of each program along with links to each program's webpage. 

Explore majors at ND     Explore minors at ND

Learn how majors inform careers

As you explore what major to pursue, you may be interested to see how other students have leveraged what they are studying to pursue particular careers. The following resources provide convenient filters where you can search by academic major.

Explore internships & summer experiences of ND students

Summer experiences, like internships and research, provide some of the best opportunities to get a firsthand look at a particular type of work or industry.  We offer a database of ideas, as well  as a networking directory where you can connect with fellow students to learn more.

Get ideas for summer experiences

Explore entry-level jobs of ND students

Find out where others who studied your major have been hired. Once you find someone who interests you, conduct an informational interview.

Search by entry-level job after graduation

Learn about majors from others

The best way to explore which academic majors may be the best alignment of your interests, skills, and capabilities is to talk to people who've "been there, done that."

Seek insight from juniors and seniors

Juniors and seniors can give you great advice about what they are learning, which courses they have found most insightful, and how their majors have informed their career discernment.

Not sure where to find juniors and seniors? Handshake offers a directory where you can search for ND students by major. You can also use our Summer Experience Networking Directory to learn more about how students connected their classroom learning to summer interships, research, and volunteer work.

Find students on Handshake      Ask questions about Summer Experiences

Gain insight from alumni

Not sure how your academic major can inform your future? Alumni can give you valuable insight. As you process advice from various alums, keep in mind that the academic major coursework and career requirements for entry-level jobs change over the years.  Find alums on IrishCompass and LinkedIn.

IrishCompass      LinkedIn