Choosing A Major


There will be many resources for you at Gustavus as you explore the liberal arts and search for a focus. Read through these questions, answers, and advice to learn how you can choose your major.

Undecided about your major?
That's okay. For the majority of our majors, you don't have to declare until your sophomore year at Gustavus.
Will I be able to graduate in four years without knowing immediately?
Yes, in most cases, unless you decide or change your mind in your junior or senior year. Programs such as nursing, biochemistry, biology, chemistry, elementary and secondary education, foreign languages, physics, sciences for pre-professional interests (i.e., medicine), music, math, and computer science should be started the first semester because many of these courses are offered only in the fall, once a year.
How would I register for my first courses at Gustavus without knowing my major?
You talk with a faculty advisor about your possible major interests and other academic interests, and then register to keep options open. You might start in physics or biology and decide after the first semester your real commitment is history or psychology. All courses fulfill one or more requirements for graduation. It's impossible to waste time or courses.
When do most students declare their major?
Traditionally, students declare their major by spring semester of their sophomore year.
How can I find out how I am progressing toward fulfilling possible major requirements, general education requirements and the total number of credits I need in order to graduate?
Through our WebAdvisor system, you are able to access an informal Degree Audit at any time. The Degree Audit tells you what requirements you've already fulfilled and what classes you still need to take.
Am I on my own to figure out what to major in?
Only if you choose to do this by yourself. However, it is wise to take advantage of the resources on campus: Career Center (interest tests and counseling), Academic Support Center, J-Term Career explorations, pre-professional faculty contacts, study abroad, internships, advisors, friends, family, catalog course descriptions, etc.
Will I be assigned an advisor?
New students first meet with a faculty advisor on campus when registering for fall semester classes in June. One of the classes all first-year students take during fall semester is a First Term Seminar (FTS). The professor who teaches your FTS will be your advisor until you declare your major. Then, once you declare your major you may choose a new faculty advisor.
Can I change my mind or do I have to stay with my first idea?
Change as many times as you need to, with the assistance of the Academic Support Center to help you figure out another strategy for graduating on time.
Any other questions?
Feel free to contact the Admission Office at or Tom McHugh, Director of the Academic Support Center, at