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Discovery and Exploration Subjects

There are many ways to discover and explore academic interests, so you are encouraged to discuss your goals with your advisor and find options that suit your needs. 

Here are a few suggestions to get you started. Please also review the list of First-Year Discovery Subjects and Other Academic Exploration Subjects.

Completely unsure about what you might want to major in? Hoping to be inspired by a field you have yet to encounter?

Try taking an interdisciplinary subject and/or a few First-Year Discovery subjects in fields that sound interesting. At this point in your academic career, you will most likely benefit from exposure to many things at once. While First-Year Discovery subjects only give you a taste of each department, you’ll connect with students and faculty who can answer any lingering questions.

Fairly certain of what you want to major in? Feeling like you don’t need to explore other fields?

Now is the time to test your hypothesis. Try taking a full 9-12 unit subject in the major. The list of exploration subjects includes many of these subjects, and everything on the list has been selected by the departments to provide good exposure to their major. If you want to get a taste of the department’s approach to research or careers, try a project-based class or class that teaches you the skills needed to pursue a UROP or internship. If you want a sense of what typical coursework in the major will be like, consider picking one of the introductory subjects that teaches you foundational content and exposes you to core problems in the discipline. You are also encouraged to take First-Year Discovery Subjects to gain exposure to other topics that might interest you. These subjects are only 1-3 units and can be great ways to discover a potential minor, second major, or HASS concentration, or you may realize that you want to rethink your initial major choice. 

Have it narrowed down to just a few majors, but not quite sure which to choose?

In some cases, there may be subjects that are jointly offered by two or more departments, allowing you to explore both at once. You may also benefit from taking First-Year Discovery subjects in some or all of the departments you’re considering. These 1-3 unit subjects are low-intensity, so it’s easy to take a few at the same time. Some departments also offer 6-12 unit subjects for first year students, which offer even more opportunities for hands-on exploration, and can be great ways to test out a department that interests you.

Interested in pursuing a UROP as a way to explore?

Some departments have many opportunities for UROPs for first-year students, in others it is expected that you complete certain coursework first to gain the skills necessary for success in a lab. UROP staff can help you understand the best way to get connected to department research.