Choosing a major - Section contents
Research and planning is key to choosing your major in your undergraduate course. Learn about your options and check the requirements you will need to meet.
What is a major?
A major refers to a concentration of subjects that equips you with specialised knowledge in a specific field of study. Almost all undergraduate courses must include at least one major, and it will be recorded on your academic transcript.
Courses have different rules for majors which include:
- How many majors you can study
- How many credit points make up a major
- How many subjects must be taken at each year level
- Which specific subjects are required to make up the major.
Refer to your specific course requirements in the Handbook for your course’s major rules.
What is the difference between a major, a minor and a specialisation?
Some undergraduate courses offer majors, minors and specialisations. It’s important to refer to the Handbook to check which requirements apply to your course.
- A major is a significant concentration of subjects in a specialised field and is recorded on your academic transcript. Completion of a major is a compulsory course requirement in most undergraduate degrees.
- A minor is a smaller concentration of subjects in a specialised field and is not recorded on your transcript. Completion of a minor is not a compulsory course requirement. You may choose to do a major and a minor as a way of completing a second discipline sequence while still leaving room for electives in your course, or to gain expertise in a second discipline if double majors are not permitted in your course.
- A specialisation may refer to a specialised area within a major, or it may refer to a short sequence of themed subjects chosen to complement a major (e.g. Event Design is a specialisation that can be chosen alongside a major in the Bachelor of Design).
Examples of how majors, minors and specialisations can be combined
Jordan is in the Bachelor of Design and is interested in urban planning and architecture. Their course offers double majors, however not all majors can be combined. Jordan decides to complete an architecture major as a potential pathway to further graduate study in architecture, and to pursue their interest in urban planning by choosing it as a minor.
Hayley is a Bachelor of Commerce student considering future career options in investment management or accounting. Her course allows for double majors in most disciplines. After completing two accounting subjects in her first year, Hayley decides she doesn’t want to pursue accounting anymore so she nominates finance and management as her majors.
Adam is studying the Bachelor of Arts and hopes to one day establish a charity aid organisation. There are several discipline areas that Adam feels are relevant to his goals, and his course allows for double majors and major/minor combinations.To allow for maximum flexibility in his subject options, Adam chooses a single major in sociology, leaving room in his study plan to choose a range of electives from other arts disciplines.
Xian is studying the Bachelor of Science and nominates a pure mathematics specialisation within her mathematics and statistics major during second year. Her course does not allow for double majors, but Xian is also interested in studying computing. Xian decides to use her discipline electives to study computing. After completing 50 points of computing electives, Xian will have the option of extending her course by one semester to complete a concurrent diploma in computing.
Can I do a double major?
Not all courses offer the option of a double major. Where possible, completion of a second major is not a compulsory requirement but will allow you to develop specialised knowledge across two disciplines. Be aware that this will restrict flexibility of elective options in your course.
If you are considering a double major, check your course structure in the Handbook to see if it is available for your course, and start planning early to ensure you have space to meet all requirements at each level.
What is an accredited major?
Some major sequences have been designed to allow you to meet the accreditation requirements of external organisations that govern professional registration in particular disciplines.
Some accredited majors also require additional subjects to be completed to meet the requirements of the governing organisation. For example, in addition to the accounting major sequence, three business law subjects must be completed as breadth to meet the accreditation requirements of CPA Australia.
If you are completing an accredited major, you should complete all of the subjects required for accreditation at the University of Melbourne. The accredited majors available in our undergraduate courses are:
- Accounting in the Bachelor of Commerce
- Actuarial Studies in the Bachelor of Commerce
- Psychology in the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Biomedicine.
When do I choose my major?
You will begin to explore your major options in first year by enrolling in subjects from a range of discipline areas that interest you.
In second year, you will narrow down your options and begin to focus on fewer discipline areas. Some courses may require you to nominate your major at this time in order to enrol in core level 2 major subjects.
By third year, you must have nominated your major to ensure you meet your course requirements.
Be aware that some majors require careful planning from first year (e.g. Psychology and Economics majors in the Bachelor of Arts). You should refer to the Handbook to check major requirements, and book an appointment with a course adviser if you need further guidance.
How do I choose my major?
Research and planning is key to choosing your major.
To get started, use the Handbook to investigate the major options available in your course. Once you have narrowed down your potential majors, use a course map template from your faculty’s course planning resources to map out all of the subjects required. This will allow you to find how to keep your options open and plan subjects to meet your goals and interests.
Depending on how major information is set out for your course in the Handbook, you will either map subjects forwards from first year, or backwards from third year to ensure you correctly plan all prerequisites. You should also:
- Be careful to check each subject’s semester availability and prerequisite requirements.
- Look beyond each subject’s overview. Consider the learning outcomes, assessment and further information to make an informed decision.
- If you need advice after completing your initial research, you can book an appointment with a course adviser.
How do I nominate my major in my Study Plan?
You will nominate your major by adding it to the structure of your my.unimelb Study Plan.
Your Study Plan is displayed as a tree diagram, and shows your subjects and the different components of your course, such as majors and breadth. You’ll need to choose and add the structure of your preferred major to your Study Plan before you can enrol in all of your major subjects.
By choosing a major structure on your Study Plan you are nominating that major.
Can I change my major?
It may be possible to change your major if there are enough spaces remaining in your study plan for your proposed new major.
You can use the Handbook and your faculty’s course planning resources to check the new major structure and to see if you have met individual subject prerequisites. If you are unable to add or change the new major in your Study Plan by yourself, you can request this change by submitting an Enrolment Variation form.
Need further advice?
Book an appointment with a course adviser to discuss your course options.