Choosing a Major

Choosing a major is both a milestone and a process.

Some students have had an academic direction in mind since high school and find declaring a college major to be a seamless transition. Others aren’t certain of a major before arriving at college, and a majority of students change their intended major at least once.

HOW TO DISCERN A MAJOR

Everyone goes through the process of choosing a major through their own way and in their own time. Remember that you are not choosing a lifetime career path, but an undergraduate academic program. Whether you are decided, undecided or somewhere in between, Hope offers a variety of resources to help you better understand yourself, clarify your goals and declare a major that is a great fit for you. Take advantage of these resources, and, especially, talk through the decision with your academic advisor.

PERSONAL AWARENESS
PERSONAL REFLECTION

Your foundation in choosing a major is to explore and consider your strengths, preferences, interests and goals. You might, for example, talk with your advisor about:

  • What types of things excite you
  • When you have you enjoyed seeing your strengths and skills at work
  • How you have grown in the past couple years
  • Whether you bring any specific life goals with you to college
  • What academic and intellectual topics you find most interesting
  • What values are most important to you
TAKE AN ASSESSMENT

Hope’s career counselors and the Career Development Center are available to help you further your self-awareness. They offer personality and interest assessments, along with many other tools to help you in your path of deciding on a major.

EDUCATIONAL AWARENESS
KNOW YOUR OPTIONS

Aligning your strengths, preferences, interests and goals with your academic major will increase the likelihood that you will be invigorated by your field of study. View Hope’s academic programs to know your options, and explore careers through the Career Development Center.

EXPLORING WITH YOUR COURSE SELECTIONS

Take classes from a variety of subjects to help focus your interests. Take advantage of the variety in Hope’s curriculum and strategically select general education courses that align with potential interests you want to explore. Set up a meeting with a professor in an academic area you are interested in to learn more about the program.

EXPLORING THROUGH EXPERIENCE

Experiences beyond a traditional classroom are key to testing your interests and further developing your strengths. Consider volunteering, student clubs and leadership, informational interviews, internships and international study.

PROFESSIONAL AWARENESS
KNOW YOUR OPTIONS

Explore “What Can I Do With A Major In...?” on the Career Development website. The interests and skills you cultivate in your Hope courses can be applied in many different professions.

BE PREPARED

You can also learn about the work environment, required skills and preparation, and the future outlook for thousands of different professions at the Occupational Outlook Handbook. The Career Development Center offers additional job prep resources such as resume review, networking and interviewing training, and graduate school and job search resources.

VOCATIONAL AWARENESS

The deepest vocational question is not ‘What ought I to do with my life?’ It is the more elemental and demanding ‘Who am I? What is my nature?’ —Parker Palmer

MORE THAN A CAREER

“Vocation” or “calling” is more than discovering a career or academic program that suits you. Your jobs may change throughout your life, but your vocation is who you are and your unique combination of strengths and interests. This is part of all the roles you participate in, whether in your academics, family, profession, volunteering or other places. Frederick Buechner, a well-known writer, describes vocation as, “The place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

DISCERNING VOCATION

In addition to discerning your academic major, we want you to embrace a larger sense of life purpose. Hope is ready to support you in learning your strengths, interests and values. Ultimately, we want to help you discover ways to use them to make a difference in your community, profession and the world.

You are invited to make an appointment with Dr. Ryan White, Director of Academic Advising, to further explore your sense of vocation. We may have conversations about self-awareness and life view, as well as do exploratory personality and strengths assessments. If you are in the midst of changing a major, you may find these foundational ideas helpful in transitioning to a new path.

MAKING YOUR CHOICE

There is no reason to feel rushed to declare a major. Take time to consider and use the above resources to help you make your decision. Some majors such as special education, music, engineering and some health sciences recommend certain classes in the first semester, but most majors do not have any first semester requirements. Most programs can still be completed in four years if you declare your sophomore (and in some cases, junior) year.

Most students at Hope have declared their major program by the end of their sophomore year.

However, there is also no need to delay. If you are at least 50% sure of a major, go ahead and declare it. It is often impossible to be 100% certain until you get involved in the major, try it out and build relationships with the faculty and other students. If you later discover that it is not the major for you, you can simply undeclare that major and declare a different one.

Read more below for details on the process of completing a major declaration.

HOW TO DECLARE A MAJOR

You may declare a major after your first semester. For most majors, it is as simple as submitting a completed major declaration form to the academic department for chairperson approval. The approved form will then be sent to the Registrar’s Office to be applied to your record and your advisor will be changed. Some departments or majors have a few other requirements in addition to the form (see below). 

Major and minor declaration forms are also available in the Registrar’s Office.

To undeclare a major or minor, simply fill out the appropriate declaration form and check the “Undeclare a major/minor” box on the form.

ACCOUNTING
MAJORS
  • Accounting
  • Public accounting
PROCESS

Submit your major declaration form to the Department of Accounting, 1st floor of Van Zoeren Hall.

ART AND ART HISTORY
MAJORS
  • Art education
  • Art history
  • Art studio
PROCESS

Submit your major declaration form to the department.

BIOCHEMISTRY AND MOLECULAR BIOLOGY
PROCESS

Submit your major declaration form to the department assistant, Donna Sova, Schaap Science Center 3103, for program director approval.

BIOLOGY
MAJORS
  • Biology
  • Biology education
PROCESS

Submit your major declaration form to the department assistant, Jackie DeBoard, Schaap Science Center 2103.

CHEMISTRY
MAJORS
  • Chemistry
  • Chemistry education
  • Chemistry with biochemistry emphasis – ACS approved
  • Chemistry – ACS approved
PROCESS

Submit your major declaration form to the department assistant, Donna Sova, Schaap Science Center 3103, for department chairperson approval. You can discuss your options with a chemistry faculty member. 

COMMUNICATION
PROCESS

Submit your major declaration form to the department chairperson, Isolde Anderson, Martha Miller 129. Majors must complete an academic internship (Comm 399) during their junior or senior year and must maintain a minimum GPA of 2.7 in the major to qualify for the internship program.

COMPUTER SCIENCE
PROCESS

Submit your major declaration form to the department chairperson, Ryan McFall, VanderWerf 204.

DANCE
MAJORS
  • Dance dual major
  • Dance education K–12
  • Dance performance/choreography
PROCESS

Submit your major declaration form to the Department of Dance, 1st floor of the Dow Center. The department assistant, Stephanie Brumels, also has a form that must be completed.

ECONOMICS
PROCESS

Submit your major declaration form to the Department of Economics and Business, 1st floor of Van Zoeren Hall.

EDUCATION
MAJORS
  • Comprehensive education K–8
  • Comprehensive education K–8 (early childhood education)
  • English language arts elementary education
  • Integrated science group elementary education
  • Integrated science secondary with biology emphasis
  • Integrated science secondary with chemistry emphasis
  • Integrated science secondary with geology emphasis
  • Integrated science secondary with physics emphasis
  • Social studies composite – secondary education
  • Social studies group elementary education
  • Special education emotionally impaired K–12 (secondary)
  • Special education learning disabilities K–12 (secondary)
  • Special education emotionally impaired (elementary)
  • Special education learning disabilities (elementary)
PROCESS

Submit your major declaration form to the Department of Education, 2nd floor of Van Zoeren Hall. We recommend that you declared your major as soon as it is advised by a faculty member within the department. Prior to being admitted to the education program, the department will have a list of requirements that need to be completed (one of which is submitting the major declaration form).

ENGINEERING
MAJORS
  • Engineering physics
  • Engineering science
  • Engineering – ABET
  • Engineering – ABET, biochemical engineering emphasis
  • Engineering – ABET, biomedical-bioelectrical engineering emphasis
  • Engineering – ABET, biomedical-biomechanical engineering emphasis
  • Engineering – ABET, chemical engineering emphasis
  • Engineering – ABET, civil engineering emphasis
  • Engineering – ABET, computer science emphasis
  • Engineering – ABET, electrical engineering emphasis
  • Engineering – ABET, environmental engineering emphasis
  • Engineering – ABET, mechanical engineering emphasis
PROCESS

Submit your major declaration with specified emphasis to the Department of Engineering, VanderWerf 204.

ENGLISH
 MAJORS
  • English
  • English – writing emphasis
  • English – secondary education
PROCESS

Submit your major declaration form to the department assistant, Sarah Baar, Lubbers 338. In addition, email the department chairperson, Ernest Cole, to arrange a short meeting.

GEOLOGICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES
 MAJORS
  • Geology
  • Geology education
PROCESS

Submit your major declaration form to the department chairperson, Brian Bodenbender, VanderWerf 220. Students can also communicate with the chairperson if they have an advisor preference.

HISTORY
MAJORS
  • History
  • History education
PROCESS

Submit your major declaration form to the department chairperson, Marc Baer, Lubbers 329.

INTERNATIONAL STUDIES COMPOSITE
PROCESS

Submit your major declaration form to the department chairperson, Annie Dandavati, Lubbers 203.

KINESIOLOGY
MAJORS
  • Athletic training
  • Exercise science
  • Physical education K–12
  • Physical education secondary
PROCESS

Submit your major declaration form to the department chairperson, Kirk Brumels, DeVos Fieldhouse.

MANAGEMENT
MAJORS
  • Management
  • Public accounting/management double major
  • Accounting/management double major
  • Management/economics double major
PROCESS

You must attend a group advising session prior to submitting your major declaration form to the Department of Economics and Business, 1st floor of Van Zoeren Hall. Group advising sessions are held in March and October.

MATHEMATICS
MAJORS
  • Mathematics
  • Mathematics – elementary education
  • Mathematics – secondary education
PROCESS

Submit your major declaration form to the department chairperson, Aaron Cinzori, VanderWerf 216.

MODERN AND CLASSICAL LANGUAGES
MAJORS
  • Classical studies
  • French education
  • Global French studies
  • German
  • German education
  • Japanese studies composite
  • Latin
  • Latin education
  • Spanish
  • Spanish education – K–12 (elementary track)
  • Spanish education – K–12 (secondary track)
  • Spanish education (secondary)
PROCESS

Submit your major declaration form to the Department of Modern and Classical Languages, 2nd floor of Martha Miller.

MUSIC
MAJORS
  • Music
  • Music education – instrumental
  • Music education – vocal
  • Music performance
  • Music performance – jazz
  • Music performance – organ
  • Music Performance – piano
  • Music Performance – violin/viola
  • Music Performance – voice
PROCESS

In addition to submitting the major declaration form to the Department of Music, Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts, submit a brief statement about your goals and reasons for pursuing a music major.

NURSING
PROCESS

To declare a major in nursing, you must first be accepted into the nursing program. Admission to the nursing program occurs twice a year and application materials must be received by February 1 or October 1 to receive a response prior to registration for the following semester.

To be eligible for admission to the nursing program, you must have successfully completed one of the required natural science courses. At the time of program application, you must also be enrolled in or have completed an additional required natural science course and one social science course. A minimum overall cumulative GPA of 3.2 is required and a minimum grade of C (2.0) is required in each of the prerequisite courses. Admission is selective and competitive. Completion of these requirements does not ensure acceptance into the program.

More information can be found on the Department of Nursing website. The office is located in Schaap Science Center 1112.

PHILOSOPHY
PROCESS

Submit your major declaration form to the department chairperson, Jack Mulder, Lubbers 213.

PHYSICS
MAJORS
  • Physics
  • Physics education
PROCESS

Submit your major declaration form to the department chairperson, Stephen Remillard, VanderWerf 205.

POLITICAL SCIENCE
PROCESS

Submit your major declaration form to the department chairperson, Annie Dandavati, Lubbers 203.

PSYCHOLOGY
 PROCESS
  1. Submit your major declaration form to the department assistant, Marcye Van Dyke, Schaap Science Center 1110.
  2. Complete the Psychology Major Interest Form and turn it in to Marcye.
  3. Attend a required major declaration meeting. Dates are listed on the Psychology Department website.
RELIGION
MAJORS
  • Religion
  • Religion – biblical studies
  • Religion – Christian history and theology
  • Religion – ethics, culture and social witness
PROCESS

Submit your major declaration form to the department assistant, Pamela Valkema, Lubbers 111, for approval from the department chairperson.

SOCIAL WORK – CSWE APPROVED
PROCESS
  1. Complete SWK 241 – Introduction to Social Welfare.
  2. Maintain an overall GPA of 2.5 and a 2.7 GPA in first- and second-year social work required courses.
  3. Meet with a faculty member.
  4. Admission to the social work major occurs twice a year, immediately after completion of SWK 241. Social Work Major Application materials must be received by February 15 of your first year or October 15 of your second year.
  5. Admission to the program is not guaranteed.

More information about the program can be found on the department website. The office is located in Van Zoeren 261.

SOCIOLOGY
MAJORS
  • Sociology
  • Sociology – criminal justice emphasis
PROCESS

You are strongly encouraged to meet with a department faculty member prior to submitting your major declaration form to the Department of Sociology, Van Zoeren 261.

THEATRE
PROCESS

Submit your major declaration form to the Department of Theatre, 2nd floor of the DeWitt Center. Once declared, you will meet with your theatre advisor to complete a major contract.

WOMEN’S AND GENDER STUDIES
PROCESS

Set up a meeting with the program director, Virginia Beard, Lubbers 207, to discuss the program prior to submitting a major declaration form.

 

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