BYU undergraduates should develop competence in at least one area of concentration. Competence generally demands study in depth. Such in-depth study helps prepare students for their life's work; it also teaches them that genuine understanding for any subject requires exploring it fully. Students normally acquire such depth from their major and minor fields. (The Aims of a BYU Education)
In addition to completing the university core, each student must choose a specialized area of study—a major. Requirements vary considerably from major to major, but all majors share in common a sequential development from introductory foundation courses to those that expect increasingly greater depth and sophistication. As the aims indicate, "By the time they graduate, students should grasp their discipline's essential knowledge and skills . . . , and many should have participated in scholarly or creative activities that let them demonstrate their mastery." Within this sequential development, prerequisites—whether within or outside the major department—help prepare students for subsequent, more focused work in the major. Some majors also require associated course work in related fields.
Aptitudes, Interests, and Objectives
Success in a major depends upon the right combination of interests, skills, effort, and aptitudes. Students who choose a major only because of its job possibilities and fail to consider their own interests and aptitudes will probably be disappointed. Some majors, particularly those in professional programs (e.g., accounting) lead directly to employment in a particular field; others (e.g., philosophy) provide a rich liberal arts preparation for subsequent graduate study or professional programs (e.g., law) and may lead to employment in a variety of fields related to the major. A student’s major can open up a great variety of employment opportunities, but students should also explore opportunities to engage in experiential learning over the course of the major to develop their skills, interests, and knowledge.
Flexibility and Adaptability
The future will likely bring about change and a continued expansion of knowledge in all domains of human understanding. Some futurists have estimated that today's high school graduates will be in five to seven different careers during their lifetime. Flexibility and adaptability, learning how to learn, and learning to think carefully and critically are the aims of a strong liberal arts education. For many careers, a degree in a particular major is not required. Employers respond favorably to applicants who have developed analytical skills, who have the ability to reason abstractly, and who have learned to communicate precisely and effectively.
Choosing a Major
Careful and thoughtful consideration before choosing a major will reduce the time to graduation and help make the most of the time at BYU. Major requirements and course descriptions can be found by clicking the “Programs” tab at the top of this page or by using the list of majors. Students may find some combination of the following action steps useful in selecting a major:
- Meet as often as needed with an open major advisor in the University Advisement Center (UAC). Advisors are available to help students choose a major or career path. Advisors are available to help students explore major and career options, help choose meaningful classes, support students through the decision-making process, and connect you to resources on-campus to design personalized goals and create a path for your BYU experience and beyond. Students will be equipped with approaches and tools to navigate the exploration process. Contact them at 2500 WSC, (801) 422-3826, or e-mail to email@example.com. You can also access their Web page at https://universityadvisement.byu.edu/.
- Work with an Exploration Specialist in the UAC. Exploration Specialists are peers trained to co-explore with students through a series of activities. These activities help students deepen personal awareness through discovering more about their interests, skills, and values and by getting more information about majors and career paths. They guide students to take their next steps to explore their options.
- Watch BYU Major Snippets. These short videos summarize basic information about BYU Majors. Each video answers the same questions from college representatives: What is this major about? What careers can graduates enter? How is it different from other similar majors? Why should I select this major? You can watch the snippetts here: https://universityadvisement.byu.edu/major-snippets.
- Review catalog information pertaining to undergraduate majors. A list of majors can be found in this section of the catalog or check each department.
- Learn about deadlines, prerequisites, and application requirements for limited-enrollment programs. Some majors have limited enrollment and only accept students by application. Limited-enrollment programs are identified with an asterisk (*) in the list of majors referred to in step 1. Students should become familiar with the prerequisite courses required for limited-enrollment majors several semesters before they plan to apply. When applying to limited-enrollment programs, students should have a backup plan in case they are not accepted. Advisors in the University Advisement Center (2500 WSC) can help develop alternative academic plans for reaching a given career objective.
- Pursue multiple options. When trying to choose between two majors, take courses that will fill major and minor requirements for both. When deciding which of the two will be the major, the other choice can possibly become a minor.
- Take a career interest assessment. Type-Focus, a Web-based self-assessment and career exploration program, is available in the UAC. Other assessments like the Strong Interest Inventory and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator can also be taken at the UAC for a fee.
- Visit the What Can I Do With this Major website: Go to https://careers.byu.edu/explore-career-options and click on the What Can I Do With This Major website to see the various career path that are available to those that study certain majors.
- Learn, firsthand, about potential careers. Part-time work, summer employment, internships, and volunteer work provide useful opportunities for students to collect information about what a specific career entails and to make contacts that will help them further their career goals. In addition, students might ask relatives or friends doing the kind of work they are interested in if they can be their "shadow" for a day, or perhaps longer. Alternatively, students might interview individuals in these positions, asking them about their work, the associated academic prerequisites, and so forth.
- Connect with Alumni through BYU Connect. One way to learn about major decision making and career paths is to connect with alumni that have already walked the path. On BYU Connect, you can search through a database of BYU Alumni have already volunteered to be contacted by current students. Within minutes you can search for alumni with similar interests, personalize one of the pre-made form letters, and send a request to chat with an individual that can share their personal experience. Sign up here: https://careers.byu.edu/how-to-use-byu-connect.
- Choose university core requirements carefully. Once a major is chosen, the college advisement center for your major can help in the selection of classes that both satisfy university core requirements and expose students to the core subject matter of a major or career: http://catalog.byu.edu/about-byu/general-education.
- Enroll in a career exploration course. Student Development (StDev) 117, Career Exploration, is a 2-credit course designed to help students choose a major and a career path. Juniors and seniors may want to take StDev 317, Career Strategies, a 2-credit hour course designed to help upper-division students prepare for transitioning to their desired career outcome and strategies for continued career success.
- Take introductory or seminar courses for majors/careers being considered. BYU offers seminar courses for pre-medicine, pre-dentistry, pre-optometry, pre-law, and many of the engineering majors. There are other introductory courses such as Orientation to the Psychology Major (Psych 101), Historian's Craft (Hist 200), that may be helpful. Information on these courses is available through college advisement centers.
- Connect early with the Pre-Professional Advisement Center. Considering a path in medicine, the allied health professions, law, or business? There are advisors designed to help you plan your path towards pre-professional success. Declare yourself as a pre-professional students and receive relevant updates, hear about opportunities, and attend specific workshops designed just for you. Connect here: https://ppa.byu.edu/.
- Seek advice from the faculty. Faculty members who teach and mentor in a particular major understand the purposes of the major program, its array of courses, and the opportunities available to those who complete it. Students should identify an appropriate member of the faculty and ask for assistance, which will often require an appointment.
- Make a firm commitment. Pursuing a major with a firm commitment to go beyond its requirements will bring satisfaction and ensure future opportunities. Tentative or half-hearted completion of minimum requirements of any major will lead only to discouragement and detachment. Students are encouraged to choose carefully, trust their choice, and diligently pursue their studies in the major.
Choosing a Minor
A minor offers students the opportunity to increase their breadth of expertise by exploring an area of study in depth but not to the same degree as in a major. Some majors require students to complete a minor from a specified set of options, but for most students a minor is optional. Students who elect to complete a minor often choose fields related to the major. Others may choose a minor in an area in which they have expertise or interest. In most cases, the minor would be chosen from a different department than the major.
Courses used to satisfy the requirements of a student's major may also be used to satisfy the requirements of a minor, unless the minor's requirements place restrictions on the double counting of courses. A list of minors can be found here.
The university provides a number of resources to assist students with careful and thoughtful academic and career planning while at BYU. It is expected that students will partner with the university by taking full advantage of these available resources and opportunities to enhance their chances of a successful academic experience.
The university is committed to providing students with access to academic advisors who will:
- Stay abreast of major and university requirements, and the corresponding academic resources
- Assist students by making appropriate recommendations for registration
- Help students in their pursuit of an appropriate major and career
- Aid students in planning an education program consistent with their academic progress
- Offer friendly, attentive, informative service, listening to the student's situation before offering a solution
Students will be successful as they:
- Prepare for and keep appointments with their college advisement center (CAC) advisor; preferably at least once a calendar year
- Establish and follow an academic plan for graduation
- Use university resources such as MyMAP, Major Academic Plans (MAPs), Academic Information Management (AIM), and the progress report
- Become familiar with their basic academic program and requirements
- Review personal academic progress each semester
The key components to advisement are:
- MyMAP (available on MyBYU through the BYU homepage; your net ID and PIN are necessary for access)
- Major MAPs (available here and at college and university advisement centers)
The Academic Information Management (AIM) system provides students with easy access to information on their academic progress and other vital information. In AIM, students can change their addresses and phone numbers, access their class schedules, determine course availabilities and instructor schedules, monitor their progress reports, look at their grades and BYU credit, make PIN changes, check on transfer and AP credit, and conduct personal registration procedures.
BYU offers students a helpful academic planning system (MyMAP) that enables them to plan their academic progress towards graduation. MyMAP is an online tool students may use to plan specific courses to fill University Core, major, minor, and elective requirements, and organize those courses into semesters/terms. In addition, students may register from these courses using the Register tab. Easy access to course descriptions can be found on any MyMAP tab by simply clicking on the course title. As a student fully utilizes MyMAP, they will find that they have important information at their fingertips. Students may access MyMAP under the school section of MyBYU. To learn more about MyMAP go to http://mymap.byu.edu.
Progress Reports were created to provide students with accurate academic progress information. Students can access their progress report in the AIM system (through MyMAP). In the new MyMAP feature in AIM, students can actually use their progress report (on the Plan tab) as a tool to plan their academic course of study.
Major Academic Plan (MAP)
This supplement to the BYU Undergraduate Catalog is also a valuable academic resource for students as they plan and prepare their academic schedules. The MAP includes information regarding university core and major requirements, semester-by-semester recommendations for course selection, and course availability. Please see the following Web site for more information: https://advisement.byu.edu/major-academic-plans.
College Advisement Centers
An advisement centers exists in each academic college. At these centers, students receive personal assistance in meeting their educational goals as quickly as possible. Students should contact their advisement centers at least once a calendar year.
David O. McKay School of Education, 350 MCKB, Provo, UT 84602-5096, (801) 422-3426, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering, 246 EB, Provo, UT 84602-4101, (801) 422-4325, email: email@example.com
College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences, 1041 JFSB, Provo, UT 84602-5535, (801) 422-3541, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
College of Fine Arts and Communications, D-444 HFAC, Provo, UT 84602-6333, (801) 422-3777, email: email@example.com
College of Humanities, 1041 JFSB, Provo, UT 84602-5535, (801) 422-3541, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
International and Area Studies, 273 HRCB, Provo, UT 84602-4526, (801) 422-3548, email: email@example.com
College of Life Sciences, 2060 LSB, Provo, UT 84602-5189, (801) 422-3042, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Marriott School of Business, 460 TNRB, Provo, UT 84602-3113, (801) 422-4285, email: email@example.com
College of Nursing, 551 SWKT, Provo, UT 84602-5544, (801) 422-4173, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, N-181 ESC, Provo, UT 84602-5096, (801) 422-2674, email: email@example.com
University Advisement Center
The University Advisement Center provides academic advising and career counseling to students seeking information on how to choose majors or careers. It also serves as the college advisement center for all Open Major students.
Services Include: general academic advisement, advisement on how to choose a major or career, graduate school advisement, career interest testing, and information and referral to appropriate university resources. The center serves as the college advisement center for open major students but all students are welcome to use its services and resources for assistance in making informed and appropriate decisions about majors or careers.
Honors Advisement Center
Honors education is open to all students who choose to participate. Students who intend to graduate with University Honors should consult with an advisor in the Honors Advisement Center (102A Maeser Building) for assistance with choosing honors courses and understanding honors graduation requirements.
Preprofessional Advisement Center
The Preprofessional Advisement Center serves students preparing to apply to professional graduate programs, specifically law, health (medical, physician assistant, dental, physical therapy, optometry, etc.), and graduate management (MBA, MPA, etc.). For those students who are interested in such professional graduate programs, the center offers individual counseling, admissions advice, and student development courses to help students explore these fields and prepare for the study and practice of the student's chosen field. The center is open to students from any major.
Academic Support Office
The university experience is rigorous by design. However, it is anticipated that all students admitted to the university are capable of succeeding academically. Many students that experience academic challenges, are able, with the support of university staff and resources, to work through those challenges and to be successful at the university. The mission of the Academic Support Office (ASO), a department of Student Life, is to assist undergraduate degree-seeking students who are experiencing academic difficulties. The ASO utilizes skilled advisors and the combined resources of the university to assist students on academic warning, probation, continued academic probation and those facing academic suspension or dismissal, to resolve academic and related concerns.
Students experiencing academic difficulties are often encountering challenges in one or more of the following areas: (1) personal concerns outside the academic realm such as mental health or adjustment challenges, physical illness or injuries, adverse events, relationship or family concerns, financial hardships, etc. that impact academic performance, (2) insufficient academic preparation for the rigors of a university experience, or (3) learning strategies that were sufficient in high school, but are less effective at the university.
ASO advisors and peer coaches support students in addressing non-academic challenges by helping students identify concerns, assess needs, access needed resources, implement appropriate intervention strategies and by providing ongoing support as students work through challenges to improve academic performance. They also provide one-on-one training to help students develop effective study skills and learning strategies. ASO advisors and peer coaches routinely assist students in developing time management, test-preparation, test-taking, reading, note-taking, memory and other academic strategies. Students who experience academic difficulties, who are on warning, probation, CAP, or are facing academic suspension or dismissal from the university are strongly encouraged to contact and enlist the support of the ASO.
Additional Advisement Resources: Student Development Services
Courses for Credit
Students can receive credit for courses focused on career exploration and development, enhancing academic skills, life planning and decision making, and improving personal mental health. These courses are listed in the class schedule under Student Development (StDev). See the Student Development section of this catalog for course numbers and descriptions.