How to Write a Letter Requesting to Change Your Major

Changing a major may require research and consultation with counselors.
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Changing a major is common at American universities -- 50 percent of students do it. Core requirements provide students with exposure to classes in various disciplines, which can spark alternate avenues of study and broader interests. The formal first step toward this new choice is informing the university of your decision.

1 Know Your School's Policies

Information on your school's policy for changing majors should be available through your registrar's office or through academic advisers. Not all schools require you to submit a letter to change your major; the process can vary even among colleges at the same university. Some schools may allow you to change your major via online student portals. Others will process your change of major after you've filled out a form signed by your adviser. Consult with your current academic adviser or a career services counselor to clarify these steps.

2 Present Your Case

Open the letter with a direct statement of purpose: "I am writing to change my degree and major from a Bachelor of Art/Science in original major to a Bachelor of Art/Science in new major. Follow with information about why you are making your change; your letter should focus on how your decision evolved. End by rephrasing your arguments: "After reflecting on my prior courses, volunteer work, and personal interests, I have realized that I enjoy activity related to old major but am particularly invested in working with activities related to new major, and pursuing a degree in **new major" would best prepare me for this."

3 Shore up Your Argument

Advisers will want to know that you have considered the potential obstacles related to changing your major. The first year of study in any program includes prerequisite, broad-scope, introductory courses that provide foundation knowledge for several related disciplines. Your letter should account for any such courses you may need to take higher-level, major-specific courses. In the same vein, consideration of upper-level course ability should also be mapped out: Some courses are not available every semester, and some may be offered as infrequently as every two years. Map out your plan to take these rare classes -- as well as planning for any prerequisites they may call for. Finally, your letter might also discuss the credits you have already accumulated that apply to your new major: "As many of my core requirements and electives apply to new major and old major, I would only need to take course X in addition to what I have already mapped out."

4 Tips for Success

Given that this letter contains an appeal that will affect your entire career, a business letter format should be followed. Use formal, respectful language and an appropriate greeting and closing. Likely addressees would be your academic adviser or the heads of both your current and desired departments. Your letter might include other persuasive data, such as a positive employment outlook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for your new field.

Tara Haughney is a dually certified elementary general and special educator, with teaching experience in Baltimore City Public Schools. She has been working to support youth education through community organizations and schools since 2004. Haughney holds a Bachelor of Arts in international affairs from Northeastern University and an MAT from Notre Dame of Maryland University.