How to Choose a Major

A degree may open the door to a variety of opportunities and diverse career paths. The degree programs offered at AIU will not necessarily lead to the featured careers. This collection of articles is intended to help inform and guide you through the process of determining which level of degree and types of certifications align with your desired career path.

Deciding what to study in college is an important experience — after all, your major may have an impact on your career path. While you can return to school or change majors, a decision like that may be costly or time-intensive. Approaching higher education with knowledge of what you can expect from your field of study can give the confidence and help you make an informed decision.

Your major is the field of study you pursue and the subject of the degree that you’ll work toward. Generally, each major has its own required core courses, though you may have a chance to specialize within that degree field. For instance, someone who majors in business may be able to choose concentrations in project management, marketing, or finance, among others.

How to Decide What to Study in College

Choosing a major isn’t something you have to do right away; however, it is something that you should consider from the start. Here are a few approaches on how to choose a college major:

  • Your Ideal Career – If you want to pursue a specific career, just pick the major that’s designed to help you prepare for career opportunities in that field.
  • Industry Potential – If industry growth or potential matters to you, you might want to spend some time considering various fields with information from sources such as U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The important thing is to do your research before deciding what you will pursue.
  • Possible Interest – Maybe you’re not sure what kind of careers you would like, but there are classes available in subjects that interest you. If that’s the case, you may benefit from taking classes in an area of interest and settling on your major or specialization/concentration based on that. For instance, if you are interested in the technical side of business, you could choose a technology management business class.

What Can I Do With Different Majors?

For many students, potential careers likely play a large part in deciding what to study in college, so it makes sense to consider the options broadly. Here are some different options to consider when choosing a major:

Business and Accounting

Choosing a major in business or accounting can lead to a wide range of careers, depending on your specialization. Accounting, finance, management, marketing and human resources — among others areas of study — all often fall under the auspices of business occupations. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects steady growth for business occupations over the next decade, citing globalization and complex taxation laws as factors influencing demand for accountants and auditors, and the increasingly prevalent use of data and market research as reasons for continued demand for market research analysts. Some potential business careers may include:1

  • Accountants and Auditors
  • Appraisers and Assessors of Real Estate
  • Budget Analysts
  • Financial Analysts
  • Fundraisers
  • General and Operations Managers
  • Cost Estimators
  • Logisticians
  • Management Analysts
  • Market Research Analysts
  • Personal Financial Advisors
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects steady growth for business occupations over the next decade.

Criminal Justice

A criminal justice degree may feature specializations in topics such as corrections and case management, homeland security, forensic science, and law enforcement. Regardless of specialization, criminal justice degrees are designed to teach students about the justice system, ethics, law enforcement principles, and other related topics. Potential careers with a criminal justice degree may include:

  • Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement Teachers
  • Supervisors of Correctional Officers
  • Supervisors of Police and Detectives
Female student

Education

Perhaps your time in higher education has instilled in you a love of learning, and maybe a desire to teach — in that case, an education degree may be right for you. You can choose to specialize in topics such as elementary education, secondary education, and adult education U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that enrollment in elementary and secondary schools is likely to increase over the decade, which is a positive sign for the education field. Potential education careers may include:2

  • Adult Literacy and High School Equivalency Diploma Teachers
  • High School Teachers
  • Instructional Coordinators
  • Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers
  • Middle School Teachers
  • Preschool Teachers
  • Teacher Assistants

Healthcare Management

Healthcare management professionals are responsible for the planning and coordination of health services. This could include the management of an entire health facility or specific parts of one, such as a department. Much of the job revolves around adapting to changes in technology, regulations, and laws.3 Specializations available with a healthcare management degree may include health services administration management or gerontology management.

Information Technology

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that computer and information technology (IT) occupations is projected to grow by 13% through 2026, which is a faster than average rate. The demand for IT proficiency is likely to be fueled by an increasing emphasis on cloud computing, big data, and information security.4 Information technology degrees are available with a variety of specializations, including software analysis and development, information assurance and security, network administration and digital investigations. Potential IT careers may include:4

  • Computer and Information Research Scientists
  • Computer and Information Systems Managers
  • Computer Network Architects
  • Computer Programmers
  • Computer Support Specialists
  • Computer Systems Analysts
  • Database Administrators
  • Information Security Analysts
  • Informatics Nurse Specialists
  • Network and Computer Systems Administrators
  • Software Developers
  • Web Developers

Media Production

If you’re interested in bringing a creative vision to life through film or audio, a media production degree may be for you, with available specializations including audio recording and sound design or digital film and post production. Potential careers available with a media production degree may include Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technicians,5 Producers, Directors, Camera Operators, High School Art/Drama Teachers, and Film and Video Editors.6

Still Wondering What to Study in College?

If you’re still thinking about how to choose a major, it may be time to request information to discuss your interests and potential degree programs. It’s never too early to start considering going back to school.


1. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Business and financial Occupations.” Retrieved from: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/home.htm (Visited 12/17/17).
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Education, Training, and Library Occupations.” Retrieved from: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/home.htm (Visited 12/17/17).
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Medical and Health Services Managers.” Retrieved from: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/Management/Medical-and-health-services-managers.htm (Visited 12/17/17).
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Computer and Information Technology Occupations.” Retrieved from: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/home.htm (Visited 12/17/17).
5. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technicians.” Retrieved from: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/broadcast-and-sound-engineering-technicians.htm (Visited 12/17/17).
6. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators.” Retrieved from: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/film-and-video-editors-and-camera-operators.htm (Visited 12/17/17).

AIU cannot guarantee employment or salary. Find employment rates, financial obligations and other disclosures at www.aiuniv.edu/disclosures.

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Classes Start May 30, 2018