1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

How do I decide on a college major?

  1. Jan 17, 2014 #1
    I'm a college student who's interested in the following sciences: physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, and computer science. (In high school I did ok in all of them, but had no particular interest in any.)

    So, how could I decide which one to pursue?

    Also, I want to get a PhD and become a researcher.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 17, 2014 #2


    User Avatar
    Education Advisor
    Gold Member

    Write them all down in a circle and place a bottle at the origin. Spin the bottle and go with whatever it lands on! Only don’t do that.

    Try this, write down each of your interests on a sheet of paper in one column. In the next list why you think you’d want to major in that field, what you like about it, what you see yourself doing with it...etc. See if you can eliminate any that you aren’t overly interested in now. After that, in a third column research each of the remaining majors and look at what recent graduates are doing with their degrees, what research is being conducted, i.e. what the degree is really all about.

    See if your research on the major matches what you envisioned it to be like and whether you actually want to leave that option on the table. Whatever remains you’ll just have to search internally for an answer and try to meet professors or scientists who work in that field. More or less each of those degrees would have similar requirements for the first year or two of college anyway, so you have time.

    After you’ve done all that and still can’t decide, go with whichever one you feel you couldn’t live without and gives the greatest opportunity for cross discipline interaction. There is no external solution to your conundrum unfortunately.

    I don't know if this would really work or not, it's all I could come up with though.
  4. Jan 17, 2014 #3
    Student100 has good advice

    I'm afraid there is no straight forward way to decide... At least I never found one. I think it is good to educate yourself about the opportunities available for each of them. Typically physics, mathematics, and computer science are the most broadly applicable topics of the list. There are physicists, mathematicians, and computer scientists working on problems in the fields of biology, chemistry, geology, economics, etc. Arguably, they also have the best job prospects of the sciences.

    It sounds to me like you are interested in the IDEA of doing research which is often disappointing once you actual start doing it. If you're interested in a career in research, then I would suggest getting involved in research as soon as possible to see how you like it. Start talking to professors during your first semester even. That is what I did and it helped steer me in the right direction as far as what major to choose.
  5. Jan 17, 2014 #4
    All of those subjects are interesting at the beginning, but I think you should look into the advanced stuff and see if it still interests you. I bet some of them will lose your interest. Others may remain interesting when you're going through the advanced stuff, and I suggest deciding between those.
  6. Jan 17, 2014 #5
    I was in a position just Like yours. In my case, i placed all of those in blender, and the juice i got was Biomedical Sciences. In my country we do statistical epidemiology, biophysics, all kinds of analysis, pharmacology, biotechnology, perhaps nuclear research, and usually as a researcher, its likely that you will use complex software.

    OR..... You could consider biomedical engineering. (Computer science + physics + chemistry + biology + tons of coffee)

    But those suggestions for you to look for. Watch YouTube videos to see what they do daily.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook