Major Exploration for International Students

At United States’ universities, it is common for students to start their first year without selecting a major. Even if you are sure about your major, it is smart to use campus resources and learn about different options before officially choosing your major. We call this learning process “Major Exploration.”

What You Need to Know

How to Talk to Your Family About Majors

Frequently Asked Questions 

Alumni Voices Videos

What You Need to Know

While you can work in any on-campus job (paychecks would be from the University of Minnesota), an off-campus job opportunity must be directly related to your major field and requires work authorization. Therefore, although your major doesn’t completely dictate your career path, your major has an influence on what types of jobs you can get in the U.S. It is important to understand the relationship between your major and work authorization by familiarizing yourself with the regulations.

Also, there are specific career sectors or employers that have restrictions on hiring foreign nationals in the United States. If you have a specific career or employer in mind, please research about their hiring practice before committing to a major toward the path.

Basic F-1 Visa Regulations

On-Campus Employment Off-Campus Employment / Internships

Maximum of 20 hours per week

Can work full-time during semester breaks

Position not limited to your major

 

Need to be authorized by ISSS before beginning employment (CPT)

Must have been enrolled in school full-time for one academic year

Have to have a job offer

The position needs to be in your major/field of study

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

For international students on an F-1 visa, off-campus work authorization before graduation is called Curricular Practical Training (CPT). The first step to learn the eligibility and application process is to complete the CPT Online Workshop.

CPT Online Workshop

The following majors are currently designated as “STEM field” degree programs. In order to confirm the eligibility for STEM OPT extension, check if your program's CIP code (listed next to your major on the I-20 in the Program of Study section) is included in the STEM Designated Degree Program List. Please consult with ISSS for any questions.

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STEM Eligible U of M Major List

Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics    
Animal Science
Astrophysics    
Biochemistry
Biology    
Biology, Society and Environment
Biomedical Engineering    
Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering
Cellular and Organismal Physiology
Chemical Engineering    
Chemistry
Civil Engineering    
Computer Engineering
Computer Science    
Data Science
Developmental Psychology
Earth Sciences    
Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior
Economics BS    
Economics-Quant Emphasis
Electrical Engineering 
Environmental Geosciences   
Environmental Sciences, Policy and Management
Environmental Engineering    
Food Science
Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development    
Geoengineering
Human Physiology    
Industrial and Systems Engineering
Information Technology Infrastructure    
Kinesiology
Management Information Systems    
Manufacturing Operations Management
Materials Science and Engineering    
Mathematics
Mechanical Engineering    
Microbiology
Neuroscience    
Nutrition
Physics    
Plant Biology
Plant Science    
Statistical Practice
Statistical Science

Planning multiple future options is especially important for international students because of the various types of uncertainty you may face such as a changing global economy and work authorization requirements.

You should consider more than one plan, such as working in the U.S./ home country/ the third country and going to grad school, and learn how to prepare for each.

 

Time spent outside the classroom helps you build your resume and explore potential majors and careers. Learn about these seven ways to gain experience and try something new.

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Student Groups

Student Groups

Great way to meet other students and get involved

Explore

Leadership

Leadership

Develop leadership skills you can take to anywhere

Explore

Volunteering

Volunteering

Get to know the community and make a difference

Explore

Learning Abroad

Learning Abroad

Further polish up your cross-cultural skills

Explore

Learning Away

Learning Away

Study at another university in the U.S. or Canada or off-campus to gain diversify your learning experience

Research

Research 

Gain hands-on lab experience with faculty

Explore

On-Campus Job

On-Campus Job

Develop various skills through on-campus employment

Explore

Internship

Internship

Get real-world experience and prepare for future careers

Explore

When you officially declare or change your major, don’t forget to update the major information on your I-20.

Once your student record is updated by your department, submit a request to ISSS through MyISSS (Login → F-1 Student Services → Change of Major).

Go to MyISSS