A great place to start

What exactly is an Exploratory major?

An Exploratory major is a freshman or sophomore student purposefully seeking to decide which field will be his or her major focus. Exploratory majors work closely with their advisors to assess their talents and interests, to learn more about areas of study, to develop an plan for effective exploration, and to stay on track for on-time graduation.

Benefits of Exploring

According to research by Penn State University, “up to 80 percent of students entering college admit that they're not certain what they really want to major in, even if they've initially declared a major. In addition, up to 50 percent of college students change their majors at least once before graduation, and some change several times.”* Here at the Catholic University of America, over two-thirds of our students change majors at least once.

Likewise, in a survey of 318 executives from companies in both the private and non-profit sector (conducted by the Association of American Colleges and Universities), 93% agreed that “a candidate’s demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than their undergraduate major.” Thus, in your college education, it is far more important that you grow in your ability to think, communicate, imagine, and problem-solve than it is that you simply fulfill the requirements of a major.

Ultimately, then, being an Exploratory major—exploring your interests, honing your talents, gaining a wide variety of skills, and growing in intellectual virtue—is not a detriment but, on the contrary, is an advantage to you as you embark upon your college education.

*Michael Leonard, Penn State University


Regular, thoughtful meetings and interactions with your Undergraduate Advisor (as well as professors, fellow students, friends, and relatives) will help tremendously along the way. Be sure to take advantage of regular meetings with your advisor throughout the year.

Making a Plan

There are a multitude of good practices and resources that can help you explore your interests, including:

The CUA Faculty

When you are taking a class that particularly interests you, talk with your professor in more detail about the subject and about what opportunities a course of study in that subject can open up for you.

Departmental Websites and Events

Department websites can help familiarize you with major and minor requirements, as well as notify you about special department events such as speakers or exhibits.

The Center for Academic and Career Success

McMahon B-10

Resources for exploratory majors include the FOCUS assessment tool, the Occupational Outlook Handbook, and the “Exploring Majors and Careers” resource.

The Center for Academic and Career Success offers skills workshops and academic coaching, along with other resources to help you get the most out of your education here at CUA.