Guide Your Education
Does your major have you musing? Whether you want to declare a major, change a major, or explore careers that relate to a major, there is a lot to discover about your future. Even more than just majors, available minors, academic programs, and specialized certificates at UCSB provide an eclectic mix of options to prepare for your goals.
We've simplified this process down to a few key steps. Use this page to launch into Majors and Beyond, including common outcomes to consider along the way.
Discover What You Can Do
The Myths and Facts About Majors and Careers
Your major is an important factor that shapes your academics during your undergraduate studies. Given the enormous amount of time, money, and energy you invest into your studies, the natural question is, "What career can I pursue with my major?"
Before you learn about career outcomes that can result from a specific major, it is helpful to understand the dynamic relationship between majors and careers. This information is often misconstrued through myths and misrepresentations that spread through word-of-mouth; thus, we have summarized a few key trends for your consideration.
To generalize a vast body of study about college outcomes, most statistics indicate that majors and careers are only loosely related. Though the exact causes of this relationship are up for debate and involve many confounding variables, it has been repeatedly proven that you can enter a wide array of industries and fields through a range of undergraduate majors.
Typically, your undergraduate major does not determine your career; instead, it helps you develop a foundation of transferable skills that you can apply to many jobs. In most cases, the number of potential career options available through a major at UCSB is in the hundreds.
In this sense, it may be more beneficial to reframe the question, "What careers can I pursue with my major?" to instead ask, "What careers will I pursue with my major?" This process has a significant amount of autonomy, which often goes overlooked.
Though most majors at UCSB provide a broad preparation for various career paths, there are specific exceptions to this guideline when the relationship is more direct. For example, a large proportion of students who major in a discipline related to engineering or accounting pursue these respective professions, as there are direct connections between what they study and how the industry functions. Another example is students who pursue careers in academia through further education within their area of study.
Though major choice may align with career choice in specific instances, these instances do not inherently imply that the career outcomes are better. Rather, the career choices are clearer and more direct.
Evidence about the relationship between majors and careers sheds light on a critical insight: you must identify the specific factors that matter most to you in terms of the career outcomes for a major.
Outcomes include not just career choice but also entry-level salary, mid-level salary, upper-level salary, job satisfaction, opportunities to advance, regional considerations, and much more. These factors are often uncorrelated and are even more often misconstrued through myths and misrepresentations, so it may be helpful to conduct a Self-Assessment and Career Exploration for further clarity.
Overall, it is essential to think beyond your major to review the vast array of assets that could make you a competitive applicant for your specific career goals. Metaphorically, you can consider your major as one of many "pieces" within a "pie" that represents how you have prepared for life after college. The relative size of this piece will vary depending on your major's relevance to your career goals.
Did You Know?
About 1 in 4 college graduates pursue careers that relate to their major.
According to a calculation performed using data from the most recent American Community Survey, only 27% of college graduates work in jobs related to their college major.
Source: 2010 American Community Survey by the U.S. Census Bureau via https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2013/05/20/only-27-percent-of-college-grads-have-a-job-related-to-their-major/
Finding Careers That Relate to Majors
You may be studying a major but are unsure which career it could lead to. This is a perfectly normal moment of realization! Even more importantly, it is a valuable motivator to keep learning.
As you investigate further, we encourage you to remember that some students do not find it a high priority to pursue a career related to their major. In contrast, other students intentionally choose a career related to their major. Either of these preferences can lead to successful and fulfilling careers, so it may be helpful to consider your personal preference.
If you are open to exploring careers regardless of their relationship to your major, check out our Career Exploration page for general guidance. If you are looking for careers commonly pursued with a specific major, you can use the following resources to understand related options better.
Want to know what UCSB students and alumni are doing with their degrees? Use the LinkedIn Alumni tool to filter by major for 170,000+ users from UCSB
Looking to identify the learning outcomes of your major for more career clues? Find a brief list of key points, as determined by department faculty
This app features 106 major profiles with information on common career paths, types of employers that hire in the field, and strategies to maximize opportunities.
For even more insights about careers that relate to majors, review these resources:
- Gaucho Network: Make meaningful connections with UCSB alumni and see what they are doing with their degrees.
- UCSB General Catalog - Academic Departments: Review your major's department website for your career-related information (note that information varies).
- UCSB College of Letters & Science - Previous Alumni Spotlights: Scroll through the educational background and career trajectory of 30+ featured alumni.
- UC Alumni at Work and UC Undergraduate Alumni Outcomes: Explore both of these interactive dashboards to see outcomes for graduates of UCSB and UC institutions.
- U.S. Census Bureau - Where Do College Graduates Work? Investigate nationwide trends between majors and careers through dynamic U.S. Census Bureau data.
What Will Your Path Be?
As you explore future possibilities, consider your personal preference for reaching your career goals through your major. Which one of the following paths best represents your plans?
Consider these examples...
- Major in electrical engineering and pursue a career as an electrical engineer.
- Major in economics and accounting and pursue a career as a Certified Public Accountant.
- Major in sociology and pursue a career as a professor of sociology.
Consider these examples...
- Major in communication and pursue a career as a marketing professional.
- Major in psychology and pursue a career as an account manager for consumer sales development.
- Major in english and pursue a career as a technical writer in the manufacturing industry.
Consider these examples...
- Major in geography and pursue a career in college counseling.
- Major in aquatic biology and pursue a career as an activities director for the elderly.
- Major in anthropology and pursue a career in product design.
It may be possible to reach your career goals through a variety of paths, and it is important to remember that one path is not necessarily better than another. It is especially key to assess your level of engagement, interest, and strength within the majors and careers that you pursue, as these factors are typically more associated with success than the level of directness between the major-to-career connection.
As such, these considerations can help you organize your plans for what to do with your major. Make sure that you have taken the time to conduct thoughtful career research, reflect on your own priorities, and strategize accordingly.
See recent statistics on Where Gauchos Go after graduating from UCSB.