Selecting a Major

Did you know…?

Students who choose majors that they love graduate with higher grade point averages. Finding the right major can take time and a willingness to try new classes and to talk to others in the discipline. Seventy-five percent of all college students change their majors at least once during their college careers.

A good place to start is with your Academic AdvisorAcademic Advisors know about each major offered for undergraduates at The University of Iowa and can also refer you to experts in the departments. Students no longer advised by the Academic Advising Center are welcome to use its Advisor on Call service.

Areas of Study

Iowa offers majors, minors, and certificate programs in more than 100 areas of study. Some of the most popular majors include Business, Engineering, Biology, Psychology, and English. Start browsing below to find a program that interests you!

Start searching for a major?

Selective or Limited Admission

The following are selective or limited admission programs at The University of Iowa:

  • Business
  • Clinical Laboratory Science
  • Elementary and Secondary Education
  • Nuclear Medicine Technology
  • Nursing
  • Pharmacy
  • Radiation Sciences

Please consult the General Catalog and Academic Advising Center for specific requirements for all majors and programs requiring an application.

If you want to declare a major or earn an undergraduate degree at the University (such as the Tippie College of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing, or the College of Pharmacy), you must be admitted to that college and to the major or program.

Likewise, those students who wish to earn a BA or BS in elementary education or add a secondary education teaching license to their CLAS degree must be admitted to the Teacher Education Program (TEP) in the College of Education. Interested students should visit with an advisor in the appropriate college or with an advisor at the Academic Advising Center.

Students admitted to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences are not guaranteed admission to all programs or majors in the College nor are they guaranteed admission to other colleges at The University of Iowa or to those programs or majors.

The following are selective or limited admission programs within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, requiring a separate application or the fulfillment of admission requirements before acceptance. Students are encouraged to meet frequently with an advisor in order to understand the prerequisites and the admission process for these majors.

  • Actuarial Science
  • Athletic Training 
  • Child Life (within Leisure Studies)
  • Dance
  • Health Promotion (BA within Health and Human Physiology)
  • Health and Human Physiology (BS)
  • Journalism and Mass Communication
  • Music
  • Social Work
  • Therapeutic Recreation (within Leisure Studies)

Earning two or more majors

You may earn a single bachelor's degree with two or more majors as long as you meet the requirements for each major. For example, you may earn a BA with a double major in history and English. Similarly, you could earn a BS with a double major in psychology and sociology. (Students wishing to earn two different degrees such as a BS and a BA should read Earning multiple undergraduate degrees.)

When a single department offers more than one major (such as the Department of Physics and Astronomy, which offers majors in applied physics, astronomy, and physics), a student may earn more than one major from the department.

Open majors

The open major is not an actual major. It is a designation that applies to all students until they declare a major and is used to facilitate discussions between advisors and students about potential majors. All open majors are advised in the Academic Advising Center until declaring a major. Students must declare a specific major by the time they have earned 72 semester hours. (For exceptions, see Declaring a major, above).

Declaring a “pre-” major

If you declare an interest in exploring a course of study in business, dentistry, law, medicine, physical therapy, or a professional program such as chiropractic, mortuary science, optometry, podiatry, or veterinary medicine, you will be given a “pre-” designation in order to help your advisor know your interest. Most advising for these areas occurs in the Academic Advising Center. A “pre-” major does not imply acceptance into a particular program. Consult the General Catalog or an advising in the Academic Advising Center for specific programs’ requirements.

Declaring “interest” before you apply to a program

If you are interested in one of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences selective or limited admission majors or programs listed below, you may request to be designated as having an “interest” in such a program before actually being admitted to it. The "interest" designation does not imply that you have been accepted into a particular program or major but merely signals to your academic advisor that you have an interest in it, so that he or she can better prepare to discuss its requirements with you.

In most cases, "interest" designations can no longer be used after a student has earned 72 semester hours. At that point, the student must choose an actual major. (See the exceptions for the “pre-” designation, above.)

Remember that admission to these majors or programs requires an additional application (or audition) with possible additional requirements. Advice from an advisor and timely application to the major or program of choice is essential, as these programs are competitive.

Specific requirements for each program may be found in the General Catalog. For more information, contact your advisor.

Returning to earn additional majors

If you have already earned a BA or BS degree from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and are not currently enrolled in a graduate or professional program, you are permitted to complete the requirements for another major that offers the same degree or to complete the requirements for a second major developed from a previously earned minor. To do this, apply for admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, declare the appropriate major on your application, and register as a senior (A4).

If you would like to earn a new major in a field that offers a degree different from the one you have already earned (e.g., a BS if you already have a BA), you may return for a second degree (see Earning multiple undergraduate degrees).

Students who return to the College to complete another major must meet only the requirements of that major; they do not need to satisfy the residence requirements or the General Education requirements for a second time.

It is your responsibility to apply to Graduation Analysis upon completion of the requirements for an additional major so that the completion of that major may be placed on the permanent record.

Students who hold a bachelor's degree from another college or university may not complete a second major at The University of Iowa. Instead, they may apply to earn a second degree (see Earning multiple undergraduate degrees).


Many students choose to add one or more certificate programs to their plan of study in order to enrich their academic program and broaden their opportunities for post-graduation employment or graduate study. CLAS students may complete certificate programs within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences or within other UI colleges, just as students within other UI colleges may complete CLAS certificates. All certificates are interdisciplinary and draw on courses offered by at least three different departments or programs.

When considering a certificate, please note:

  • You must be earning or have already earned a bachelor's degree in order to add a certificate to your plan of study.
  • You cannot complete a certificate program in the same area as your major, but you can use the same courses to complete majors, minors, and certificates, and to complete the General Education Program. However, departments and programs may limit “multiple counting” for their own majors, minors, and certificates. Check with your advisor and with the department or program offering the certificate before planning a course of study.
  • You must earn a grade point average of at least 2.00 in all work attempted as part of the certificate. No course taken pass/non-pass may be used as part of a certificate. Courses graded S/F may be used at the discretion of the offering department or program.

To declare your intention to complete a certificate, visit the Office of Academic Programs & Student Development. This office will also direct you to an appropriate advisor.

If you have already earned a bachelor’s degree, are not enrolled in a graduate or professional program, and wish to complete a CLAS undergraduate certificate, you must enroll as a post-baccalaureate student (consult with Admissions).

Certificates offered

View list of certificates offered

Each academic unit offering a minor or certificate determines the specific requirements for that certificate. For these requirements, contact the department or program, click the links above, or visit the General Catalog. To inquire about transfer coursework or credit by examination, contact the department or program offering the certificate.

If the requirements for a certificate change after you have declared it, you will not be held to the new requirements (as long as you complete the certificate by the deadline).