Career Development

Picking a Major

Picking a major can be the easiest or the most difficult decision a college student has to make. This guide outlines important information to take into consideration and strategies for students to use in picking a major.

What is a major or professional program?

Majors are essentially a combination of classes and experiences that provide a student with both in-depth and broad based skills and knowledge. Majors usually fall into one of two categories.

  • Liberal Arts (LA) majors teach a broad range of skills.
  • Professional majors tend to lead directly into one specific career or career field.
  • St. Catherine University offers a mix of both liberal arts majors and professional majors at all degree levels including: associate, bachelor, masters, doctorate and certificate.

    What is important when picking a major?

    What you like to study in depth? Consider what topics would be engaging to research, write papers about and explore through creating projects with other students. Students who choose a major that they really love and enjoy are more likely to graduate and to have better grades throughout college. Make sure that you consider both educational and life interests when choosing a major.

    What would you like to do for a living? If you know, it is fairly easy to decide upon your major. If you're not sure, see How to explore majors and careers below.

    Stay away from “shoulds: I should take this class because my parents want me to; I should know what my major is already; I should major in (insert major here) because that’s what I always thought I would go into. Try to put the “shoulds” aside when choosing of your major. Consider your "coulds" instead.

    How to explore majors and careers

    Exploring majors and careers firsthand is the easiest way to get a real feel for what you enjoy and what you don’t. This can be done through books, on the internet, through internships, job shadowing, and other methods. Here are a few suggestions of ways to explore:
    • Look through the St. Kate’s Academic Catalog
    • Use the career information databases available online and in the Career Development Office
    • Take the Strong Interest Inventory(SII) through the Career Development Office
    • Make an appointment to talk with a Career Counselor at 651-690-8890
    • Talk to faculty about specific majors
    • Talk to students in majors that interest you
    • Take classes that spark your interest
    • Do volunteer work
    Shadow a person at a job that you are considering
    Participate in an internship

    Does a major limit my options?

    A common misconception is that once you pick a major, you're stuck with whichever job it leads to. However, except for those positions that require a license or certificate, many majors offer flexibility in the job market. There are biology majors who work in bands, business majors in research positions, and so on.

    Liberal Arts majors develop valuable transferable skills for an ever-evolving workplace. The U.S. Bureau of Labor estimates that the average person changes career fields several times in their lifetime. The University of Illinois found that approximately 80% of workers in the United States are in a career field that is not directly related to their college major.

    Liberal Arts majors provide students with the transferable skills employers seek

    All majors at St. Catherine University will provide a student with the skills that employers look for in potential employees. According to the National Association of College and Employers, these skills are:

    Verbal communication Written communication Honesty/Integrity
    Teamwork skills Strong work ethic Analytical skills
    Flexibility/Adaptability Interpersonal skills Motivation/Initiative
    Computer skills Detail-orientation Organizational skills
    Leadership skills Self-confidence