If you went back in time to my senior year of high school and told me I would be a Psychology major with a minor in Public Health, I would probably say: “That sounds about right.” But, if you added that I transferred into nursing for a year before switching to a completely different psychology program with a focus on public health research…I would say, “You’ve got the wrong student!”
It’s completely normal not to know what you want to study in college. It is also completely normal to change your mind and major (once or even twice!) after you arrive. It’s easy to compare yourself to your peers or envision a linear college path, but that doesn’t necessarily help you reach your goals.
While you can declare your major before stepping foot on campus, that doesn’t mean there aren’t lots of opportunities for students who are still figuring out their path.
Trust me! This is coming from an NYU student who switched her major twice.
These scenarios can help you figure out a plan, when you’re not sure what to do!
First thing to note: you are doing completely fine and are not at any sort of disadvantage!
There are great opportunities at NYU for students deciding between different areas of study. The first option is to apply to the College of Arts and Science. There you’ll find over 60 majors to choose from!
You are allowed to take classes from different fields in CAS and declare your major in the spring semester of your sophomore year. Even then, you don’t need to feel pressure to settle for just one major. Many NYU students double major and take up a cross-school minor.
In this case, it might be a good option for you to apply to the Liberal Studies (LS) Program. You will complete the LS Core requirements for your first two years at NYU and take some electives to narrow down your intended major.
This option would be great for someone who is really unsure of what they want to do. Taking the LS Core could help narrow your interests in completely different fields. One of my closest friends was actually an LS student and she is the model student for this flexibility. She came to NYU as an intended political science major but quickly decided that it wasn’t for her and shifted her interest to environmental studies. After taking a few more classes, she’s now majoring in Media, Culture, and Communication with a minor in Environmental Studies.
When transitioning out of the Liberal Studies program, you can apply to a majority of NYU colleges. Just remember, most students who want to transition to CAS can, but other schools might have different requirements. Make sure you talk to your adviser as you solidify your plans.
Keep in mind that for some majors, there may be some courses you’ll need to take before transitioning out of LS. It’s also important to note: if you are sure about what you want to pursue, do not think it is easier to get into certain schools at NYU by simply transferring out of Liberal Studies.
I would recommend you really contemplate whether you’re internally transferring on a whim on a Tuesday night, or if you’ve talked to people and properly given it thought. Trust me, I wish someone would’ve asked me this a year ago.
However, if it’s now Wednesday morning (or you’ve given yourself even more time to think about it) and you still want to switch majors—let’s discuss your options! Luckily NYU has a pretty seamless transfer process.
NYU has its own internal transfer application, so there’s no need to go back to the dreaded Common Application. Here are some basic rules before we get into the nitty-gritty. The earliest you can transfer is the second semester of consecutive full-time study at your current school. Conversely, the latest you can begin your study at a new school is the first semester of your junior year. Some majors do not take incoming internal transfers for the spring semester and some require prerequisite courses. Make sure to look into the details of your intended major once you decide where you’d like to transfer.
While this might seem like a lot of rules, NYU tries to make this process as flexible as possible. And I’ll let you in on a little secret: I actually internally transferred from NYU Meyers College of Nursing to CAS in my junior year. That said, I am NOT encouraging this, since NYU takes transfers after your junior year on a case-by-case basis. Still, it’s important to emphasize NYU takes your individual circumstances into consideration when making their decision.
You’re not figuring this out alone. I encourage you to talk to other people. In fact, you should be talking to your NYU support network. The first person of contact should be your academic adviser from your current major. Let them know what you’re thinking, so they know what’s going on and how to help you. If you have any questions about prerequisites or whether you’re able to complete your degree in four years, contact the department of your new intended major. Those are the two important initial steps.
Here are a few more resources that really helped me during this process:
- First, stop by the Office of Student Success. If you have more questions about your transfer and you’re not sure who to talk to, go here! They know the relevant contacts on campus and they’ll be able to get you in touch with the right people.
- Next up, if you’re an international student, the Office of Global Services can help you. They’ll be able to talk you through your visa status and any other immigration concerns you may have. Don’t worry! NYU makes the process for international students extremely straightforward. In most cases, switching majors will not impact your visa.
- For a majority of cases, internally transferring will not impact your financial aid. But, if you’re worried about your situation make sure to contact Financial Aid.
Alumni and other students in your new intended major can be a huge help. In fact, these people should be one of the first groups you talk to. Take advantage of the Violet Network to talk to alumni. Try to gauge whether the new major is what you’re looking for by talking to some of your peers. These people have lived through it and will be able to give important insight.
Breathe. You’ve Got This!
Now, I know that was a lot of information. Just remember this does not need to be done in a day. If I can do it mid-fall semester of my junior year, you definitely have time!
Switching up your major can feel very tedious and frustrating. You can even feel very behind at times compared to your peers. I’ve been there, done that.
I just want to remind you that it’s important and very rewarding to make this change, if it means you pursue what you’re passionate about. The moments of anxiety and pressure are going to wear off. You will be thankful you had the courage to make this change. Despite common misconceptions, there isn’t a “right” way to be successful in college. Just do it your way. Good luck!