Are you not exactly sure which degree you want or what you want to do after college? That’s OK!

College should be about exploring, growing, and finding a good fit for yourself. You’re not alone. Many college freshmen just aren’t sure. With 180 degree programs to choose from at Northern, it can be overwhelming, but it’s also a good bet that you’ll find one that’s right for you. We offer a number of resources to support students who haven’t declared a major. Our Academic and Career Advisement Center assists in investigating courses and career paths while students fulfill general education course requirements and earn credits toward a degree. These courses often spark an interest that leads to choosing a major. Students can also participate in special undeclared sections of the First-Year Experience Program in their first semester at Northern, providing a great sampling of courses and support from a cohort of fellow students.

Most students who begin their studies as “undeclared” select a specific major during their first several semesters. To explore your options and help determine an academic major, you should make contact with the staff in the Academic and Career Advisement Center early in your college career. Many students also decide to change their major after they’ve started at Northern. That’s perfectly fine, too. Your adviser will help redirect your plan so you can complete your degree as quickly as possible.

Programs offered

For a complete listing of programs (majors and minors), details on the classes required for each degree, course descriptions and other considerations in earning your degree, please visit our online Undergraduate Bulletin:

About General Education Courses

All students seeking a baccalaureate degree—and in many cases, a two-year associate degree—are required to take a number of general education credits in different subject divisions. Students select courses that interest them from many offered in each area. NMU also offers baccalaureate and associate degrees in liberal arts and sciences and a general university studies associate degree which build upon general education courses and provide flexibility to undecided student.

What you’ll do at NMU

At Northern, we strongly believe in learning by doing. You’ll work closely with professors in hands-on laboratory work and on real-world-based projects, often using our beautiful local environment as a classroom and benefiting from visiting experts. You’ll have the chance to help organize and run major sled dog, bicycle or ski races with community members and earn course credit. Maybe you’ll sharpen your foreign language skills or help impoverished children while you study abroad. Or have an amazing internship with a pro sports team or leading computer company. Whatever you do, you’ll have the support of talented and caring instructors every step of the way.

Despite the pressure you may be feeling from others to choose a major, beginning your college experience as undeclared is more than okay. Choosing a major is a big decision – one that deserves your time and attention. It is easy for others to try to sway your choice. You may have heard things like, “You’re great with children, be a teacher” or “With your ability to debate, you should be a lawyer.” While these statements may be true, it is important that you do not let them be your only influence in declaring a major. Your decision should be made by exploring who you are, discovering your strengths and interests, and knowing what is important to you.

You may be seeing a theme in everything you have read about being undeclared – YOU!  It is your right, your responsibility and ultimately your inner-voice that you need to listen to when making your choice in a major and career. Use the tools below to start your search:

Self-Examination

  • Brainstorm – make an uncensored list of all your interests: things you do in your free time, extra-curricular activities you have been a part of, subjects you really enjoyed, topics you read about, etc. 
  • Take Self-Assessments – learn more about yourself with a variety of tools. 
  • Participate in Extra-Curricular Activities – take advantage of campus activities, programs, lectures, or workshops to learn new information and diversify your views.  
  • Conduct Career Exploration – explore thousands of occupations to see what sparks your interest. 
  • Entry-Level Course – enroll in an entry-level course in a field of interest to see if you enjoy the academic content. Example: If you're interested in criminal justice, take CJ110 - Introduction to Criminal Justice.  

Academic-Focused Examination

  • Complete the Major Elimination Activity – you may not know what you want to do, but you probably know what you DO NOT want to do. So narrow your possibilities down right away. Cross out the NMU degrees that are a NO. 
  • View What to do with a major in – review introductory information for each academic program at NMU. 
  • Examine Major Details – know the program requirements  of majors you are considering: specific GPA, pre-requisites, practicum or study abroad experiences, second-level of admission into the program, etc. 
  • Majors Expo – gain exposure to the variety of majors available at Northern, as well as the career opportunities within them. Take advantage of knowledgeable faculty and staff within departments to figure out the career path that interests you.

Need some help getting started? Contact us!

Academic and Career Advisement Center • acac@nmu.edu • 906-227-2971


If you have college credit and want to find out what will transfer to NMU, please visit www.nmu.edu/transfercredit