Frequently Asked Questions by International Students

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Read the answers to the frequently asked questions and learn about the educational systems at the U of M. Still have questions? Feel free to contact CAPE.

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What is “Major Exploration”?

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

Major = Career? (Does a major equal a career?)

Yes and no. Your major has an influence on what types of jobs you can get in the U.S. (e.g., the work has to be related to your major in order to obtain U.S. work authorization). However, many U.S. employers look for your experience and skills. Jobs in demand change with the times. Your perfect job may not exist today! So when choosing a major, don’t make decisions solely based on the current job market. Think more about the skills and knowledge you would like to gain from your college education and which major will give you most of them.

I am interested in more than one area of study, what can I do?

CAPE services can help you narrow down your interests and identify the best educational plan for you. If you decide to keep more than one area of study, there are different ways to incorporate them. Make a plan that will match your academic and professional goals.

  • You can complete one or more minors in addition to your major. Visit Explore Minors for more information.
  • You can double major. Make sure to have a good plan to fulfill requirements for both majors so you can graduate on time.
  • You can design your own major.
    The Individualized degree program (IDP) in College of Liberal Arts allows you to combine three or more areas of study into your educational program.
    The Inter-College program (ICP) in College of Continuing & Professional Studies provides options to design a degree with a two-area, three-area, or thematic course plan.
  • You can enroll in a certificate program. A certificate program teaches you a specific set of knowledge or professional skill in the areas of languages, education, business, and others. See a list of undergraduate certificates here.
  • You can take classes of your interest outside your major without declaring an extra major or minor.
  • You can pursue your various interests outside of the classroom by participating in student organizations, research, internships, study abroad, and other activities.

What is the difference between a double major and a dual degree?

Double majors: Both majors are in the same degree structure (e.g., both as B.A. degrees or both as B.S. degrees) and a student is earning one degree with a double major (e.g., a B.A. degree, with majors in English and history).

Dual degrees: Two majors are within different degree structures (e.g., one B.A. and one B.S.) and a student is earning two (dual) degrees (e.g., a B.A. degree in English and a B.S. degree in biology).

If you are pursuing double majors or dual degrees, please ask your academic advisor about the degree clearance policy and work closely with the advisor to ensure that you are completing both sets of the major requirements simultaneously.

What is the difference between a B.A. and a B.S. degree in the same major? Which one is better?

Some majors offer both a B.A. and a B.S. degree. The B.S. degree requirement typically requires more math and science courses while the B.A. degree is often more flexible. The core part of coursework for both is usually the same. 

Making the choice between an B.A. or B.S. is highly dependent on which field it is and what your goals are. Neither of them holds an inherent advantage over the other. If you plan to go to graduate school, you can check the application requirement of graduate programs to see whether one of the degree types is desired, and consult faculty members for their opinions. If you plan to find a job in the U.S., check if job descriptions in the fields of your interest specify what type of degree you hold. Employers look for experiences showing your skills and qualifications. You can talk with U of M alumni and recruiters to obtain some real-life perspectives. If you plan to return to your home country and find a job, you should ask people there in that field of work for advice.

Who can help me decide on a major?

See this detailed table.