Advice on Declaring a Major
Following first-year seminars, students begin to explore the possibilities for declaring a major. They may select their major at any time after the first semester, and are required to declare no later than the end of their third semester.
All students must officially declare a major by the end of the third semester. Any student who wishes to complete a second major must officially declare by the end of the fourth semester of study. After the fourth semester, students wishing to add a second major, or change majors, must petition and gain approval from the new department or program to ensure that the student can complete the major by the end of the eighth semester. Some highly structured programs, particularly those involving study in the foreign languages or the natural sciences, are facilitated by a declaration of major by the end of the second semester.
If you are a sophomore preparing to declare a major, you might begin the process by contacting your first-year seminar adviser for an appointment. At that meeting you might discuss both the completion of your distribution requirements and your moving on to a new major and a new adviser. Your first-year seminar adviser can help you sort through the interests you have developed in your time at Middlebury. Ask him or her for an appointment, or go to office hours.
Or, you might talk to faculty who have taught you in departments or programs you’re considering for a major. One of them might become your new adviser. You could catch a faculty member quickly before or after a class, but make an appointment or go to office hours for a substantive discussion.
Another important source of information and advice is the chair of a department. You will notice on the Declaration form that you need a signature from the chair of the department(s) you’re planning for a major. But don’t wait until the end of the process to speak to the chair. Especially if you haven’t decided on a new adviser, or if you want to know about joint- or double-majoring options, or if you’re wondering what kinds of things majors in the department do after Middlebury, the chair is an excellent source of information.
Should you decide by October 21? That depends. Many students will take longer to declare and will return this third and final semester to advising with their seminar adviser. But students for whom the priority of being a major is crucial to registration should take the Oct. 21 deadline seriously.
This is a big decision. Most students discuss it with a range of people and weigh the advice they get. Those people include parents, Commons Heads, peers, recent alumni, deans, and other staff.
So start the decision-making process now. Begin making appointments, and enjoy imagining your next two years.
The Major Declaration form is available in the Registrar’s Office or online.
International students need to update their visa documents when they declare a major. Find the form for that here.