Exploring Majors, Minors, and Certificates*
This resource is intended for preprofessional students who:
- Are preparing for graduate-level professional programs, and determining what combination of major(s), minor(s), and / or certificate(s) they might wish to pursue
- Are working to develop contingency plans in case they do not gain admission to their health program of choice
- Are more generally exploratory, and simply researching different major(s), minor(s), and / or certificate(s)
Most graduate-level health and law professional programs do not care what undergraduate degree / major you choose! Most programs suggest you choose a major in which you are genuinely interested, and in which you can excel; not one you merely think "will look good" on an application. Most programs simply do not screen applications in this manner, based upon major.
This point is illustrated by the fact that, in any given year, the IU PT and OT programs admit applicants from 15 - 20 different majors, including liberal arts majors like English, history, philosophy, and so on. For some insight into why, for example, liberal arts majors (i.e., S&H and A&H majors) are not only perfectly acceptable, but can offer certain benefits, read the article, Why History Matters.
- 75% of IUB students are Exploratory at some point
- Of new students who indicate that there is "no chance" they will change their major, nearly 50% actually do change it at some point (TFS higher education survey)
- There very well may be more than one field or major that you might find fulfilling and enjoyable
- You are more likely to excel in a major in which you are truly interested, and in which you have the aptitude to succeed.
|It's perfectly okay to be open-minded and explore! To save yourself time and labor, be sure to follow the directions one Page 1 of the List of IUB Majors, Minors, and Certificates (opens in your word processor).|
People choose different degrees and majors for different reasons, depending on their circumstances. Here are some approaches you might be considering:
A) Perhaps you need to earn a specific degree in order to work in your field of interest. (For example, nurses must earn their RN through an accredited two-year ASN or four-year BSN nursing program.)
B) Or maybe you want your undergraduate degree to serve as the preprofessional foundation for an advanced degree, such as an MD, MPAS, DPT, DDS, etc.
- If so, choose an undergraduate degree which genuinely interests you, and in which you feel you can excel academically. Ask yourself whether you would still choose the given degree/major even if you were not planning to pursue a graduate degree.
- And, while it is not necessary to do so, you could choose a degree/major which has some connection with the advanced degree you plan to pursue. Perhaps it includes courses which overlap with admission prerequisites for the advanced degree, or has a direct connection with the field you wish to pursue. For example, Community Health has obvious connections with all health-oriented fields. Again, choosing a major with these overlaps is a choice, but not usually a necessity.
- Important: Most graduate programs do not care what you major in. Therefore, despite other considerations, the most important factor in choosing a degree/major/career path is that you choose something in which you have a genuine interest, and in which you feel you can excel.
C) Or you could choose an undergraduate degree which itself serves as a foundation for a contingency plan (back-up plan), should your initial plans change. Most undergraduate degrees are not intended as direct paths to specific careers, but are intentionally designed to provide a foundation upon which you can build the skills necessary for many professions or post-undergraduate programs. The IUB Career Development Center offers resources through which you can do additional career research and contingency planning. In this case, you would still want to choose an undergraduate degree/major which interests you, and in which you think you can excel.
This information was prepared for Indiana University Bloomington students by the Health Professions and Prelaw Center. Please note that specific requirements and policies can change at any time without notice. Students are responsible for obtaining the most current information directly from application and testing services, and the schools and programs in which they have an interest. Refer to each program's web pages, bulletins, and other publications for the most current information. Students are responsible for understanding degree course requirements, as well as other requirements, policies, and procedures related to the degree(s) they are pursuing; for enrolling in appropriate courses; for understanding IU policies/procedures; and for following through properly with regard to all of the preceding.
* Some of the resources on this page are adapted from the Explore Majors at IU website.