Choosing a major is an important and personal decision that will impact your time at MIT and beyond. How you arrive at your decision is as individual as how you choose to use your major after college. Don't panic, don't rush, and do use every available resource to explore majors.
Finding out how other upperclassmen made their decision can be a great source of inspiration and guidance to you, so these profiles provide tips on how some MIT students decided on their major.
Antony Nguyen (Course 24 major, specifically 24-2, Linguistics)
"In high school, the subject I did best in was Computer Science, so I applied to MIT thinking I would be Course 6-3. I did, however, have an interest in languages and linguistics, but I never really considered majoring in Linguistics (24-2) until I saw an article about computational linguistics, which conveniently fit both of my interests. So when I got to MIT, I was set on doubling in 6-3 and 24-2. I took Introduction to Linguistics (24.900) in my fall term and loved it, and then I took Introduction to EECS I (6.01) in my spring term and its electrical engineering portion turned me away from Course 6. I talked with my Course 6 friends and my freshmen adviser near the end of my spring term and ultimately decided to major in Linguistics (24-2) because I was genuinely more interested in linguistics, but also because I realized that I didn't need a degree in Course 6 to be able to do and show that I was capable of doing Course 6 stuff. In addition, not majoring in 6-3 allows me to take Course 6 classes that I actually want and not have to deal with the electrical engineering side of Course 6. I really enjoy being a Linguistics major because it gives me that genuine spark of curiosity when I learn something new about it, be it syntax or phonology; language has been a large part of my life because I grew up in a trilingual household and was exposed to languages, such as Spanish, French, and Latin, in high school. It's also a great feeling to be learning about and perpetuating the work of MIT's very own Noam Chomsky. I've recently been looking into the Brain and Cognitive Sciences (9) it shares some topics and subjects with Linguistics; my UROP this past summer, which I'm currently continuing, is in Course 9."
Alexandria Hall (Course 7 and 21H)
"For most of my preliminary education, I loved my history classes but abhorred science, until I took AP Biology. During that class I realize I actually love biology, and decided I wanted to be a doctor. I entered MIT with that same vision, and when it came time to declare I major, I had no difficulty deciding on course 7. However, I still have a love of history, and so I decided I would concentrate in it. Like a great number of nerds, I planned out my ideal schedule for the rest of my tenure at MIT, adding in as many history classes as possible. It turns out that majoring in course 7 and majoring in history means only taking about 5 classes a semester, a normal load. Now I can follow both of my humanities-related and scientific passions here, and all it took was a little extra planning."
Andrés López-Pineda (Course 6 & 18)
"I am a Senior from Eagan, MN. When applying to colleges, I was split between course 6 and 10. I've always been interested in computer science so I was pretty set on 6, but I also LOVED chemistry in high school. To help me decide, I took 6.01 and 5.112 first semester freshman year. 5.112 ended up being not as interesting as high school chemistry (at least to me), and I realized that I did not want to continue in course 10. I didn't take a math class that semester and found that I missed taking math a lot. Since I was no longer doing course 10, I figured I would try out a double major of 6 and 18, as they have a lot of overlap, so that's what I am doing right now. I know it's a cliche, but really you just need to take classes in areas you are interested in and think about what else you would really like to take. Don't be afraid to change your mind and stay flexible with your goals. Also, if possible, look at what type of UROPs you can get in your major and see if that is something you would like to do."
Matthew Falk (Majors: 6-2, 8-b, yet to declare & Minors, yet to declare: 2, 18)
"I am a sophomore from Southern New Jersey. The summer before my senior year of high school I thought about what potential major I would do in high school and two things popped into my head: Cryptology and Time Travel. My life has been centered around these two areas since I was a young kid and I wanted to come as close to majoring in a field with their names as possible. Later that summer, I read all of Dan Brown's novels (to date) and pretty much confirmed my interests. Upon acceptance to MIT, I looked for courses Similar to these interests and found EECS, Mech-E, Math, and Physics. Once taking some classes here I found the course specifics that have led me towards (6-2) and 8 Flexible to be concentrated in Astronomy. Not being able to decide which I would pursue, I am currently taking courses in each department to either get a better sense of which course is really me. So far I have switched my major twice (2 -> 2-A ->; 6-2) and I will be switching to 6-3 in the next week or so. I did a UROP in Course 2 Freshman Year and one in Course 6 over the Summer, after these I realized I am more of a Comp Sci guy, so I am trying to filter my courses accordingly. The worst part is trying not to take every interesting course MIT has to offer! Underneath all of my academic interests, lie the young child's dreams to do cryptology and time travel!"
Latifah Hamzah (Course 2 with minors in 21M and Energy)
"As a freshman, I considered 2, 10 and 16 but leaned more towards course 2, taking 2.001 and 2.005 freshman spring. Having enjoyed those classes, I stuck with it, although I have a UROP in course 16 to do stuff with things that fly. Although I toyed with the idea of doing 2A and 10, I decided that I really wanted to have the depth of pure course 2, and my other UROP in course 2 (with a professor who graduated in course 10) shows that it is possible to pursue research that straddles both fields. That UROP has an energy focus, which I am really interested in, so I am taking the opportunity to pursue the new minor available. As I was also really involved with music before coming here, I have found pursuing a music minor a nice way to sustain that interest too."
View the ACADEX Choosing a Major Video
Upperclassmen offer their advice on how they chose their majors and why they selected their given Course or Courses. You can also download a complete transcript of the Choosing a Major video in PDF format.