Discover What You Can Do

Majors and Beyond

Guide Your Education
 

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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.

Lightbulb icon  Looking to discover the essentials of exploration, no matter your major? Make sure to check out our Career Exploration page.

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 that you invest into your studies, a natural question to ask is "What careers can I pursue with my major?"

Before you begin to 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 wide 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, but rather, it helps you to develop a foundation of transferable skills that you can apply toward many careers. 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 useful to reframe the question, "What careers can I pursue with my major?" to instead ask, "What careers will I pursue with my major?" There is a significant amount of autonomy in this process, which often goes overlooked.

Though most majors at UCSB provide 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 key insight: it is critical that you 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 useful to conduct Self-Assessment and Career Exploration for further clarity.

Overall, it is important to think beyond your major to review the wide 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.

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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 not yet sure which careers 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 to be a high priority to pursue a career that relates to their major, whereas other students intentionally choose a career that relates to their major. Either of these preferences can lead to successful and fulfilling careers, so it may be helpful to consider your personal preference for this.

If you are open to exploring careers regardless of their relationship to your major, be sure to check out our Career Exploration page for general guidance. If you are looking for careers that are commonly pursued with a specific major, you can first use the following resources to gain a clearer understanding of related options.

What Can I Do With This Major?

Need a starter list of careers related to your major? Login to Handshake to use this resource to explore common career options, employers, and strategies

LinkedIn®

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

UC Santa Barbara Program Learning Outcomes Assessment

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

For even more insights about careers that relate to majors, review these resources:

 

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 engagementinterest, 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.

 


Learn More

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