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.”
- Understand How Your Major Relates to Work Opportunities
- Review STEM Eligible U of M Major List
- Have Multiple Plans
- Build Your Resume While in School
- Update I-20 When You Declare/Change Your Major
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.
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.
STEM Eligible U of M Major List
Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics
Biology, Society and Environment
Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering
Cellular and Organismal Physiology
Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior
Environmental Sciences, Policy and Management
Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development
Industrial and Systems Engineering
Information Technology Infrastructure
Management Information Systems
Manufacturing Operations Management
Materials Science and Engineering
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.