University of Iowa

Open Majors

woman exploring
Any undergraduate student at the University of Iowa may declare the Open major. In fact, about 20% of all incoming first-year students begin as Open. Students choose to start with this major for a wide variety of reasons:
  • They truly do not know what major they want to pursue or what careers they might be interested in
  • They have a particular career in mind, but are unsure of which major is well-suited to their vocational goals
  • They are interested in several possible areas, but need some time to explore and find the best fit of major, along with potential double majors, minors, and/or certificates

There are many different ways you can begin the exploration process.  Start with any of these resources, and try out more than one.

Begin a Conversation:

  • There are many people in the university community who are knowledgeable and willing to help out.  Talk with:
    • your Academic Advisor
    • a Career Advisor at the Pomerantz Career Center
    • professors
    • your instructors

Take an Assessment:

  • MyBlueprint utilizes open-ended questions and writing to help you reflect
  • MyMajors takes past academic experiences, preferences, and your responses to questions into account to generate a list of possible majors to explore
  • Focus 2 creates a profile through five short inventories and matches your profile with majors and occupations
  • For a nominal fee ($10), the Pomerantz Career Center offers additional career assessments, including: YouScience, iStartStrong, and the Strong Interest Inventory

Take a Class:

  • The university offers courses for credit that will help you explore your path:
  • CCP:1300 Major and Career Explorations helps students identify their interests, skills, and values relative to majors and careers; self-assessment, information interviews, research on majors and careers
  • CLAS:1600 Life Design explores how interests and talents can be paired up to achieve a fulfilling life
  • MED:1100 Introduction to Health Care Professions is an introduction to current U.S. health care system and changes that are likely in the near future; provides information about distinct health care professions grouped by discipline (e.g., nursing, pharmacy, public health), and less traditional career pathways in health care fields; how health care professionals across disciplines coordinate to deliver better health care; instruction by prominent health care faculty at the University of Iowa; for students considering a career in the health care field.
  • RCE:2081 Making a Vocational-Educational Choice examines the vocational decision-making process through self-evaluation and exploration of the world of work and is best for students who are uncertain about their educational and vocational goals.

Open majors are assigned to an academic advisor in the Academic Advising Center.  Academic advisors help students through the process of self-exploration and discovery, so students are encouraged to work closely with their academic advisor and have regular meetings each semester. Your academic advisor will:

  • Work with you to explore academic and vocational areas of interest
  • Assist you in course selection as you explore academic disciplines
  • Introduce you to campus resources that will further assist you in your search
  • Listen to you while challenging you to grow and think about your college experience

Whatever your academic and career goals, your academic advisor is there to help.

A student must be declared in a degree-granting major by the time they have earned 60 semester hours. For many students, this occurs prior to the end of their sophomore year.

You can declare many majors during your second year and still have time to complete requirements for a four-year graduation.  For majors that are highly sequenced, it may be difficult to complete the major in four years unless you start the coursework in your first year.  Majors that typically require more intensive planning are those where you need to take a sequence of mathematics and/or natural science coursework.  These include:


  • majors in the natural and health sciences,  
  • majors in the mathematical sciences, and
  • engineering

 We encourage you to discuss your academic interests with your advisor early and often, especially if your goal is a four-year graduation.