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Davis, California

Thursday, May 30, 2024

What’s in a major?

So you came to Davis with big dreams of becoming a doctor, but all of those general chemistry classes made you seriously rethink this plan. Luckily, changing your major can be a simple process – all you need is a little preparation and the right paperwork.

Before beginning the process of declaring a new major, it is important to make sure you are still allowed to switch. If you have attained senior status and have 135 or more units, you may not be so lucky. The registrar’s website states that students of senior standing cannot change majors, unless it is under special circumstances. If you are below 135 units, however, there is nothing stopping you from petitioning for a new major.

The first step toward declaring a new area of study is to start learning facts about the new major.

“It’s good to shop around first,” said Susie Johnson, academic program advisor for undergraduate education and advising in the College of Letters and Science. “Besides, some programs may have specific prerequisites or GPA requirements to switch into.”

Once you have decided on a new major, you have to fill out a change of major form. This form is available in the undergraduate advising center at each college, in most major departments and can also be found online.

After filling out your general information, the form must be signed by your new academic adviser. This is the undergraduate adviser for your new major.

Lynda Jones, undergraduate counselor for the department of English said that she looks at a student’s academic history before signing them into the new major.

“A student must be in good standing,” Jones said in an e-mail interview. “English is not an impacted major, so I can accept them without any prerequisites. However, depending on the situation, I may advise them to take a couple of English literature courses before formally declaring the major.”

“We really want to make sure you talk to the new adviser,” Johnson said. “This is why we require their signature on the form.”

Once you are approved to switch into the new major, you need to bring the form to the department you are switching out of. There, your former academic adviser will sign you out. If you are switching into a major within your current college, the process ends here. However, if you are switching to a different college, another round of signatures must be obtained.

To switch colleges, signatures from both the new and old college’s dean need to be collected. To do this, bring the change of major petition to the undergraduate advising center of your old and new college. According to Johnson, it does not matter which college you go to first, as long as you get both signatures.

“If you’re switching from one college to another, you need to be in good academic standing,” she said. “This is qualitatively and quantitatively, meaning you need to be making minimum progress and maintaining a 2.0 GPA.”

The completed change of major form is submitted to the undergraduate advising center for whichever college your new major is located in. The actual form takes one to two weeks to process, so it is important to get the petition in before your pass one registration.

Instead of just changing your major, maybe you want to declare multiple majors. A multiple major approval form can be picked up from any undergraduate advising center or downloaded from the department’s web site. While the process can sound complicated, it is similar to that of switching majors.

“It was easy to figure out how to declare a double major once I took the time to ask someone who knows how,” said Hailey Harrell, a junior English and plant biology double major. “The actual thought process in deciding to double major can be scary, though. You have to prepare yourself for somewhat grueling classes and schedule planning.”

All the information needed to declare a second major is located on the form itself. You must fill out the form then get signatures from each individual major’s adviser. For each major, 80 percent of the upper division units must be unique. This means that only 20 percent of upper division units can be used toward both majors at the same time. The rest must be applied only to each individual major.

“Before I double majored, I went to my current major adviser. She told me I needed to fulfill all of my requirements to get to upper division, then take two upper-division classes from each subject in order to declare a second major,” Harrell said.

This completion of upper division units before declaring the second major ensures that the process will be doable. A double major program must be completed in 225 units or less, or a petition to a dean is required to continue. The deadline to petition for a double major is the fifth week of every quarter. It is important to note that you cannot declare a second major during the quarter you graduate.

Students can find more information about changing their major or declaring a second major in the UC Davis general catalog. Information is also available online at the registrar’s web site at registrar.ucdavis.edu.

For more questions, students should consult their major adviser, old or new, or the undergraduate education and advising center in their respective college.

JENNIFER SCOFIELD can be reached at features@theaggie.org.


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