Explore majors that can lead to a great future.

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Accounting majors learn how to gather, record, analyze, interpret, and communicate information about an individual’s or organization’s financial performance and risks.

If you're a big baseball fan, you know that keeping track of how well your favorite team plays and predicting how it will do in the future is part of the fun. In businesses, government agencies, and nonprofits, accountants often engage in very similar activity.

Not simply bean counters, accountants analyze financial information and consult with upper management about important business decisions. Of course, some accountants also keep the books, recording every financial transaction.

Acting students learn how to portray dramatic characters and their thoughts, moods, and feelings. Classes include instruction in voice for the actor, movement, improvisation, theater history, and actor coaching.

If starring in high school productions of such stage classics as Antigone, The Crucible, or Grease has given you the acting bug, you may want to study acting at the college level. What skills will you need to play your characters more convincingly? What is the subtext of a play? How do actors make stage combat look real? You’ll find the more you study acting, the more you learn about the preparation it takes to bring a character to life on stage or on screen.

Advertising majors learn how to create and spread messages used to promote and sell products and services.

Do Internet pop-up ads really sell products, or do they just annoy people? Why do some TV commercials pull us in while others turn us off? What are the psychological effects of various colors?

These are just a few of the questions you’ll explore as an advertising major. If you’ve ever dreamed of writing clever ad copy, planning a media campaign, or selling advertising space, this may be the major for you.

Aerospace engineering majors learn how to use math and science to design and develop aircraft, spacecraft, and missiles. They also study such topics as aerodynamics, orbits, launch, flight controls, and engines.

For thousands of years, people enviously watched birds coast through the skies and wondered how they did it. But in the last one hundred years, flying on this earth has become as unremarkable as walking, and space travel is no longer the stuff of science fiction.

As an aerospace engineering major, you’ll learn the basics that helped the Wright brothers and others conquer the age-old problem of flight. You’ll learn how to apply these ideas to developing new types of air- and spacecraft  that are better, safer, and stronger. You’ll find out how space flight works and dream up new ways of exploring galaxies unknown.

Students in African American studies look at the history, politics, culture, and economics of North American people of African descent.

From the slave economy to the civil rights movement, and from the blues to hip-hop, African Americans have had a huge role in shaping American society and culture. If you major in African American studies, you'll learn about their achievements.

You'll also examine the hardships African Americans faced during their history. Further, you'll dive into the difficult issues, such as unequal educational opportunities, they deal with today.

Scholars in African American studies play a key role in the development of modern academics. By focusing on people and viewpoints that have been ignored in other fields, they lead they way in integrating minority experiences into all academic subjects.

As an agricultural engineering major, you’ll learn how to use science to improve the production, processing, storage, and distribution of food, timber, fiber, and renewable energy sources while protecting the environment.

Could the earth run out of earth? It doesn’t seem possible, but it takes thousands of years for soil to develop. This means that soil is practically a nonrenewable resource. Meanwhile, soil is being worn out by farming, polluted by chemicals, and eroded by wind and water.

If this concerns you, you’re not alone. Some agricultural engineers come up with farming practices that use soil more efficiently. Others help farmers by designing power systems, tools, and storage space. Still others look for ways to ensure food safety during processing. Thanks to agricultural engineering, farmers are getting better at producing safe food more efficiently while protecting the environment and using natural resources wisely.

Agriculture students learn how to use general principles of agricultural research and production to approach practical agricultural problems. These problems range from soil conservation and animal husbandry to plant cultivation and business management.

The essence of agriculture is providing food, whether you grow soybeans, herd cows, or develop a new hybrid tomato. But the basic task of keeping humans fed is complicated by environmental, scientific, economic, political, and legal questions.

How can local government agencies help keep farmers from having to sell their land to developers? What pesticides are effective yet have the least impact on the environment? How can water sources be managed so that they last? How will a surplus in Chinese apples affect international trade? Agricultural students learn how to answer all of these questions and more.

Air transportation majors study aviation as well as the technical and business sides of the aviation industry.

Love to fly? Fascinated by planes? If so, consider a major in air transportation. It will give you a foundation in all aspects of aviation, from the physics of flight to the art of piloting to the science of management. Air transportation majors often go on to careers as pilots, air traffic controllers, flight instructors, airport and airline managers, and government administrators.

American studies majors look closely at the United States and its people from a variety of angles.

As a young and incredibly diverse nation, the United States is considered by many to be a work in progress. American studies majors explore the colorful canvas of the United States, often asking what it means to be American.

If you choose this major, you’ll study everything from the novels, music, and film of the United States to its politics, economy, and history. You’ll even investigate primary sources such as the letters of a Civil War soldier or the oral histories of the 1965 Watts riots in Los Angeles.

Animal sciences majors learn about the nutrition, breeding, behavior, and management of food animals. Topics covered include dairy science, poultry science, livestock production, and aquaculture (fish production).

Ever wonder how the shrink-wrapped steak at the supermarket made it to the shelf?

Students of animal sciences know where your food comes from. They learn how to make sure that the nation’s supply of cows, chickens, pigs, and other food animals is as healthy and productive as possible. Among the challenges of animal science: discovering which breeds of cow produce the best milk and coming up with new ways to protect against bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or Mad Cow Disease.

Anthropology is the study of humans and other primates (such as chimps). As an anthropology major, you'll study how groups live with each other and how their bodies and cultures have changed over time.

How are people alike? How are they different? How have these differences come to be? As an anthropology major, you’ll explore all kinds of mysteries about people and primates.

You might, for example, look at how one group of people communicates without the help of modern technology -- or you might study the effects of cell phones on another society. You might study how ancient societies protected their people against disease -- or how public-health policy affects modern city dwellers. As an undergrad, you might specialize, focusing on culture, biology, archaeology, or language.

Students of applied math learn how to use math and statistics to solve problems in the applied sciences and engineering. Subjects of study include numerical analysis (approximation methods) and optimization theory (a decision-making technique).

Many a math student has asked the question, “Will I ever need this stuff in the real world?” Working on a complicated algebra problem or calculus equation may seem like a pointless exercise, but in fact there are a lot of careers that rely on this sort of math.

If you major in applied math, you’ll indulge your love of equations and proofs while preparing for a career in a field such as computer science, engineering, or science.

Applied physics students learn how to use physics to solve career-oriented problems. They combine studies in physics and math with courses in related majors, such as chemistry, engineering, and computer science.

If your head is in the stars and your feet are on the ground, consider a degree in applied physics. You’ll start by studying some of the same science that other physics majors learn, from the formation of the solar system to the pull of a magnet. But you'll build on your foundation by concentrating on the practical applications of physics.

Other physics majors are typically prepared for graduate school in the field. But the focus in applied physics is usually on entering a career with a bachelor's degree or going to graduate school in non-physics fields that range from engineering to medical and law school. The keyword in this major is flexibility.

Architectural engineering programs combine architecture and engineering. Majors learn about the links between design and construction. Course work covers such topics as building materials and construction methods.

The Taipei Tower in Taiwan is 101 stories and 1,667 feet tall. It’s built in an area that gets hit by typhoons and earthquakes. How do you build something so tall? How do you make it safe? On the 88th floor, in the center of the tower, there’s a steel mass that weighs well over a million pounds. When strong winds blow or the earth moves dangerously, the heavy sphere absorbs the energy from the building and helps to stabilize it.

As an architectural engineering major, you’ll confront challenges like those posed by the Taipei Tower project.

Students of architecture prepare to become professional architects. Classes cover such topics as architectural theory, design, and history; drafting; and project and site planning.

While architecture is grounded in science, its heart is in the arts. Well-designed buildings not only serve the people who use them. They are also works of art that help define the town or city in which they stand.

As an architecture major, you'll learn how to work with others to imagine buildings, from straw-bale houses to the tallest skyscrapers. And with the technical know-how you pick up in such classes as architectural engineering and construction materials, you'll know just what needs to be done to bring them to life.

Area studies majors study the histories, politics, economics, and cultures of various areas of the world. They usually focus on a specific area, but sometimes compare two or more areas.

If the magical realist novels of Latin America capture your imagination, you might major in comparative literature or Spanish. Or if it’s the history of colonialism in African countries that fires your brain, you might major in history. But if you want to know Latin America or Africa inside out, then major in area studies. You’ll not only study everything from an area’s history to its present-day economy and art, you’ll also bring greater understanding to specific topics, from magical realism to colonialism.

While only a few schools have departments called area studies, many more have programs dedicated to specific regions. Some schools offer programs in comparative area studies. At others, you’ll have to design your own area studies major.

Students of art history, criticism, and conservation learn about the history of art, the interpretation of works of art, and the care and conservation (protection) of artworks.

It doesn't matter whether you're standing in front of a prehistoric cave painting or inside a present-day art installation that uses interactive video and sound. As a student of art history, you'll look at how the artist has used color, line, form, space, light, and shadow to communicate an idea or emotion. Your classes will cover such topics as the theory of art, the study of specific periods and styles of art, research methods, and conservation techniques. 

Archaeology, anthropology, literary criticism, philosophy, and history will all play a role in your studies. You'll learn to use the tools of these fields to see art alongside the history and culture of the artist.

This major prepares students to teach art and art appreciation programs at various educational levels (mostly kindergarten through twelfth grade).

There's a middle school in California covered with murals. One wall beckons with oversized images of playing cards — fantastic queens, knights, and princes. On another, dinosaurs stalk through a prehistoric scene. On a third, kids stroll to class, so realistically painted they blend in with the real-life kids nearby. 

Who painted these eye-catching murals? The students. With the skillful guidance of their art teacher, students did it all — created the designs, sketched the outlines, brushed on the paint. If you love the idea of helping kids turn raw creative energy into works of art, consider studying art education.

Astronomy students study space, the history and future of the universe, and the objects within, such as planets, stars, and galaxies. Subjects of study include the evolution of stars, how the stars and planets move through space, chemistry, and advanced math.

When you look up at the night sky, what do you see? There are patterns of stars, planets, the moon, and some sights that you may not be able to explain. Astronomy is the study of those objects in space — how stars, planets, and galaxies form and behave — and the universe itself.

If you want to understand the mysteries of the night sky, this could be the major for you.

Students in athletic training learn how to prevent and treat sports injuries through therapeutic exercises and nutrition. They prepare to become certified athletic trainers.

In programs in athletic training, hands-on experience literally does mean hands on. Students learn how to advise athletes on avoiding injury, and how to assess and treat sports-related injuries when they do happen.

Tools in an athletic trainer's medicine box include therapeutic exercises, whirlpool baths, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation. Athletic trainers tend to like working closely with people, whether they're soccer players or health administrators, and always have the satisfaction of helping people heal and achieve their body’s full potential.

Meteorology students study the atmosphere (the gases that surround the earth), focusing on the weather and how to forecast it. Areas of study include the climate, the physics of the atmosphere, and chemistry.

You’ve got your bathing suit on and your sun block packed, but by the time you get to the beach, it’s pouring rain. What happened to that sunny day you expected? Why is the weather so changeable, so uncertain?

Meteorology is the field of science that seeks to understand and predict short-term weather as well as long-term climate processes.

Aviation management and operations majors learn the business and management skills they’ll need to run the complex activities of the aviation industry.

Airports are often compared to beehives because they’re so busy. Aviation management majors learn management principles that keep these active places, as well as airlines, running safely and smoothly. They study everything from hiring employees to meeting government security regulations to making sure passenger luggage gets to the right place.

Students of biochemistry learn about the chemistry, molecules, and chemical processes necessary for life to exist. You’ll learn about substances like carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and the nucleic acids that make up the genetic code.

When you look at a plant or an animal, be it a majestic redwood, your golden retriever, or even another person, you see the entire organism, a smoothly functioning whole.

But beneath the surface is a living machine. At scales much too small for us to see with the naked eye, there are chemical reactions going on that enable organisms to live. For example, when you eat, proteins called enzymes help speed up the chemical reactions that break down food so that you can get the energy you need to live. If you major in biochemistry, you’ll examine these and other chemical reactions.

Students of biology undertake a general program in which they study living organisms and the systems and processes that permit life. Courses include subjects like cell biology, evolutionary biology, marine biology, and plant biology.

When you think of life on earth, your first thoughts are probably about familiar animals, your pet dog or cat, the bird you see in the tree outside your window. But that is really only a small sample of all the types of life on our planet, which include plants, bacteria, fungi, and animals in a vast array of body forms and types.

Biology is the study of life, individual organisms, their communities, and the systems, cells, and processes that make up living matter.

Biomedical engineering majors learn how to use engineering to solve health and medical problems.

People often compare the human body to a machine, made up of systems that work together to keep itself running. Like machines, though, pieces of the body can break down. This is where the exciting world of biomedical engineering comes in.

As a biomedical engineering major, you’ll build a foundation for a future that could take many directions. You might look for the chemical signals in the body that warn of cancer. You might invent a new and improved type of prosthetic (artificial) hand. You might refine the robots that doctors are just beginning to use in some surgery.

Biotechnology majors study engineering and the life sciences, learning how to engineer new products.

Some people like to tinker with gadgets. They take apart and repair watches or spend all day in the garage working on cars.

Biotechnologists tinker with living organisms. They use biochemistry and genetics to create new products for the agricultural, industrial, and environmental industries. These products include vaccines, medicines, growth hormones for plants, and food additives.

Botany majors study not only plants but also one-celled organisms related to plants and the environments and ecosystems in which plants live.

It’s easy to think that humans rule the world. We have built vast cities, created advanced technology, and populated most areas of the planet. And of course, we’ve domesticated both plants and animals.

In reality, though, it’s the plants that are in control. Plants convert sunlight into chemical energy through a process called photosynthesis. Animals in turn eat the plants (or other animals that have eaten the plants) to get energy. Without plants, animals, including us humans, would be unable to live. Botany is the study of these powerful organisms in all their shapes and forms. 

Students in broadcast journalism learn to report, produce, and deliver the news for radio, TV, and other broadcast media.

With a degree in broadcast journalism, you’ll be ready to bring all kinds of news to the public. You could find yourself on the local news pressing mayoral candidates to find out what they really think or chatting up celebrities on a music-video channel. You might become a sports announcer on a local radio station or deliver the news as a talking head on TV.

But this major is also for people who’d rather be behind the camera. You’ll learn how to operate microphones, recording equipment, and other devices, and could go on to edit, produce, or direct the news. 

This program prepares students to plan, organize, direct, and control an organization's activities.

With the creation of large factories in the late 1800s came the need to manage large groups of workers. In his 1911 book The Principles of Scientific Management, Frederick Winslow Taylor addressed that need. He suggested that each worker be trained to do a single task with no wasted effort. His philosophy made such a big impact on the business world that it was nicknamed Taylorism and is still studied today.

Of course, there’s a lot of disagreement about Taylorism: some people argue that it's inhumane, while others celebrate the increased productivity it has led to. As a student in business management, you’ll add your voice to this debate and others like it.

Business majors study the buying, selling, and producing of goods, as well as business organization and accounting. They learn how to use the basic principles and techniques of business in a variety of workplaces.

Handheld computers and cell phones make business dealings easier and faster. But there's a downside. Because these devices are easily lost, there's a risk that private information will fall into the wrong hands. Executives using cell phones in airports or other public places may forget to avoid discussing confidential topics. To make matters worse, competitors could also use technology to listen in.

How can we ensure that the cons of new technology don’t outweigh the pros? If you major in business, you’ll learn a wide range of business skills and study the issues affecting today's business climate.

Chemical engineering majors learn how to put chemicals to work. Classes cover such topics as improving the way factories use chemicals to make products and solving problems such as rust and pollution.

Suppose you have this great recipe for chocolate ice cream. You like to make it at home for your family and friends. You make it in a little one-gallon machine that goes into your freezer. But what if you sell your recipe to a big food company? Now they have to be able to make thousands of gallons a day. Each gallon of ice cream needs to taste exactly the same and look exactly the same.

What kind of equipment could they use? How would the recipe change? How can the factory make the ice cream at low cost? These are all questions for the chemical engineer.

Chemistry majors use math, theory, and experimentation to study matter (physical substance). They look at what it’s made of and how it behaves, down to the atomic level.

Lightning crackles in the sky as the camera pans over a dark castle. Down in the laboratory, a mad scientist stands among his many vials, test tubes, and beakers, mixing liquids to produce a bubbling, smoking potion.

The popular B movie villain, haphazardly mixing chemicals for evil purposes, is a far cry from the professional chemist. In reality, chemists work in controlled environments, using the scientific method to make valuable contributions in a range of fields, including medicine, biology, psychology, and geology. As a chemistry major, you’ll explore many different topics, from the chemical basis for life to the environmental problems caused by chemicals.

Students of child care management prepare to manage child care services.

Most parents and other guardians can’t be there for kids 24/7. They rely on some form of child care, counting on it to be nurturing and safe.

If you major in child care management, you’ll learn how to run day care centers, preschools, and other child care services that bring out the best in kids. Your classes will cover a wide range of topics, including child psychology, theories of education, children’s health issues, and business management.

Students of city, community, and regional planning learn to create livable and environmentally healthy communities.

You may have heard of the term urban sprawl. Urban sprawl refers to the uncontrolled growth of cities and suburbs. The typical results: traffic congestion, a lack of green or open spaces, poorly designed or nonexistent public transportation, and unhappy residents. City, community, and regional planners address urban sprawl and other problems that communities face, such as pollution. 

Planning majors learn about the principles of architectural design and how to use them to create communities in which people are proud to work and live. They explore such topics as affordable housing, public transportation, land use and zoning, economics, and environmentally friendly buildings.

Civil engineering majors learn how to use math and science to design big construction projects. Topics covered include the calculation of how much weight a structure will hold and the environmental issues that surround construction.

The first Homo sapiens who put a bunch of sticks together to get a roof over their heads were, in a way, civil engineers. Today’s civil engineers have more responsibility than ever. They build skyscrapers that reach thousands of feet in the air. They hang suspension bridges that support tons of cars and trucks each day. They create water systems that support millions of city dwellers. If you study civil engineering, you’ll learn what you need to know to work on the projects that make modern life possible.

Classics majors study the languages, literatures, and civilizations of ancient Greece and Rome and the places under their control.

Ancient Greek and Roman literature continues to be reinterpreted in every way possible, turning up in forms as different as James Joyce’s Ulysses and Wonder Woman comic books. Yet you may be surprised by how different from us the founders of Western civilization were after all. For instance, the Athenians regarded their women practically as slaves.

There is still a lot we don’t know about the way the ancients lived. Classics majors delight in finding out. Whether researching the ethnic diversity of ancient Rome or putting a fresh spin on an old favorite while translating it, they keep an eye out for the unexpected.

Communication and rhetoric majors study and practice the exchange of messages in all their variety.

Do you love nothing more than a good debate? Have you made a sport of picking apart everything from presidential speeches to class lectures? If you’ve answered yes, you may want to consider majoring in communication and rhetoric.

You’ll learn much more than how to be a powerful, persuasive speaker. You’ll study the complex ways in which we communicate with each other, through the media and face-to-face, with words and without, at work and at play.

Students of communication sciences and disorders study the science behind communication problems and their development. They also learn how to treat children and adults and use what they learn to come up with new strategies and technologies for diagnosis and rehabilitation.

Imagine a birthday party for a three-year-old child. The room is full of chatter: children asking for more ice cream or complaining that another child took their toy. But one child, who appears to be as healthy as his peers, is silent. He is not playing with others, and his face shows an absence of emotion. 

If you study communication sciences and disorders, you’ll learn the cause of this child’s behavior. You’ll also learn how to help him interact with others and break his silence.

This major prepares students to organize communities for social action. Students learn how to serve as links between community groups and public agencies, and how to give information, instruction, and help to community members.

The history of community organizing as we know it today began in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. That's when college-educated young people set up settlement houses in midwestern and East Coast cities.

Settlement houses provided services, such as child care and English language classes, to the great numbers of people who needed them urgently. They were mostly immigrants working in low-wage jobs such as meat packing and garment making. Some settlement-house organizations also advocated for workers, urging government to take action and improve housing or create child labor laws, for example.

Students of comparative literature learn about the literature and literary traditions of two or more different countries, cultures, or languages.

Try to imagine King Lear translated into Chinese and you will have an idea of the difference it makes to read a literary masterpiece in its original language. As a comparative literature major, you will study literature and literary movements across national and cultural boundaries. You may trace the influence of Chinese poetry on American poetry, or compare early Japanese novels to more contemporary French ones. Whatever you read, you will learn to see life from a variety of perspectives.

Through the study of mathematics, physics, and computer science, computer engineering majors learn to analyze, design, and develop computer hardware and software.

Some of us drive cars with little knowledge of how they work. Others wouldn’t dream of driving a car without understanding exactly how it’s powered, how it gets them from point A to point B, and how to fix it when it breaks down.

Computer engineering students have the same philosophy about computers. They want to know how computers work and what they can do to make them smarter, faster, and more efficient. 

Computer forensics majors learn how to fight computer crime by collecting and analyzing digital data. They also learn how to prevent crime.

We’ve all been warned not to open emails from unfamiliar addresses -- and there’s good reason. What looks like simple spam can be the foundation of a serious crime, such as credit card fraud, identity theft, and virus transmission.

Who will stop cybercrime? With a degree in computer forensics, it could be you. In this major, you’ll learn not only how to digitally retrace the steps of criminals, but also how to serve justice by proving them guilty in a court of law.

Computer graphics majors use computers and math to create realistic images and learn how to develop graphics software.

How do you make the three-dimensional curves of a basketball look real on a two-dimensional screen? You hire a computer graphics expert.

And if you major in computer graphics, you’ll be able to do it yourself. You’ll practice using shading, object rendering, and other techniques to create realistic images for computers, movies, TV, video games, and more. But don’t be fooled by the pretty pictures -- this is a major for students who are serious about computers. You’ll even learn how to develop your own graphics software.

Students of computer systems networking and telecommunications learn how computers communicate with each other. They study the design, installation, and improvement of computer networks and related software.

It’s hard to believe there was a time when we didn’t have email, the Internet, or cell phones. But when we telecommunicate, sending messages and information via phones and computers, we rely on relatively new technology -- from fiber optics to satellites.

If you choose this major, you’ll learn how to work with the latest technology as well as the technology that’s right around the corner. By the time you graduate, you’ll know how to expand the capabilities of networks already in place and to build new ones. 

Computer science majors learn about computer systems and the way humans and computers interact from a scientific perspective. Instruction includes programming and the theory and design of software.

In countless old Star Trek episodes, a baffled captain asked the computer for help, and the computer promptly replied with an answer. What was once science fiction is becoming reality, thanks to computer scientists working in voice recognition.

If you study computer science, you may learn how to design computer programs that allow humans and computers to speak to one another. Keep in mind, your work is more likely to help a vision-impaired person than a captain navigating the universe, but you never know.

As a software engineering major, you’ll study the scientific and mathematical basis of computer software. You’ll learn a variety of programming languages and how to design, analyze and maintain software.

If you’re considering a major as a computer software engineer, be prepared for a cutting edge and continuously evolving career. Jobs will advance rapidly and new jobs will be created often to meet ever-changing technological needs. Just think about how much computers and the software they use have evolved over the past four years.

The scientific and mathematical foundation you build in this major will always be fundamental to your work. But like other computer majors, you’ll face a lifetime of learning as you strive to stay on the forefront of innovation.

Construction management students learn the skills needed to manage, coordinate, and supervise construction projects from start to finish, including scheduling, budgeting, and managing materials and people.

In 1961, construction crews started working around the clock to build Seattle’s famous Space Needle. To construct a base that would ensure stability in an earthquake, they dug a hole 30-feet deep and 120-feet across and filled it with 467 truckloads of cement.

But those cement trucks didn’t show up by themselves, and neither did the construction crews. Behind the scenes were construction managers, the people who coordinated the entire effort. If you major in construction management, you’ll learn all you need to fill their shoes.

Students of creative writing focus on the construction of poetry and prose. They read and analyze the work of established writers and write original creative work.

When you read a good poem, do you wonder how the writer managed to form such interesting images? When you read a novel, do you think about how the author created characters you can relate to?

If you study creative writing, you’ll try to answer questions like these, analyzing poetry and fiction to learn how writers create successful work. And, of course, you’ll try your hand at creating your own work, which you’ll share with professors and classmates. Although it’s very unlikely that you’ll make a living from writing poetry or fiction, you will gain the skills needed to work in fields such as editing, publishing, journalism, and advertising.

Students in criminal justice explore every aspect of crime, the law, and the justice system.

How is the threat of terrorism affecting city life? Should drug abusers be rehabilitated in prison or drug treatment programs? What punishments are “cruel and unusual”? These are just a few of the questions you’ll confront as a student in criminal justice. You’ll also study the law backward and forward, learn how the judicial system works, and learn the ins and outs of police departments and other law enforcement agencies.

Criminal justice is an interdisciplinary major, so get ready to study everything: law, psychology, sociology, public administration, and more.

Students of criminology study the nature and causes of crime, the behavior of criminals, and the criminal-justice system.

Our obsession with crime and punishment is reflected in fact and fiction television programs about on-the-lam killers, petty criminals, and white-collar crime. Today, as much as ever, we are fascinated by questions about crime: Why do people commit crimes? Is there such a thing as a born killer? Is a completely crime-free society possible? 

Criminology is the search for answers to questions like these. Our understanding of who commits crimes and why has a direct influence on the criminal-justice system. As a criminology student, you may come up with new theories that lead to better responses to crime and its causes.

Students of dance learn to express ideas and emotions through dance forms such as ballet, modern, jazz, ethnic, and folk dance. Classes cover such topics as dance technique, choreography, and the history of dance.

Is dance your favorite way to express yourself? As a dance major, prepare not only to develop your physical skills, but also to explore the history, theory, and science of your art. Get ready for a tough schedule of technique and choreography classes, long evenings in rehearsal, and academic classes. Dance majors challenge their bodies and their minds in this demanding art form.

Both the bachelor of fine arts (B.F.A.) and the bachelor of arts (B.A.) prepare students for careers as dancers and choreographers. The B.A. also prepares students for careers in dance education, administration, and therapy.

If you major in database management, you’ll learn how to construct databases. You’ll study the organization, storage, and retrieval of large amounts of information.

Think about how much data you have stored on your computer. You may have trouble finding the occasional file, but you usually manage.

Now imagine how much data is available on the Internet. Much of that information is stored on databases. Thanks in part to the work of database administrators, you’re able to find the information you need quickly.

Students of design and visual communications study a wide range of applied arts disciplines, from interior design to illustration and beyond.

Like broad strokes across a canvas, the major in design and visual communications cuts a wide swath through a range of applied arts, from fashion design to industrial design.

In this major, you’ll learn what it takes to communicate ideas and information effectively -- no matter what art form you’re using. Though you’ll have to take a few courses on theory, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to build the practical skills you’ll need to work in the field.

Digital arts students use computers to create art. They work in digital photography, animation, electronic sound and music, graphic design, and other digital or interactive media.

The work of a great choreographer re-created with hand-drawn 3-D figures, a multimedia representation of the mind of a child with learning disabilities, an electronic “concert” shaped by the artist’s own brain waves and heartbeat -- these are a few of the projects created by today’s cutting-edge digital artists. The digital arts have been described as the place where artistry and technology meet. If you are a creative person who loves technology, a major in digital arts could be the right choice for you.

You’ll learn how to use a wide variety of digital animation programs, including 2-D and 3-D graphics programs, and explore electronic music, video installation, and Web design. You’ll also study the history and theory of digital media and work on perfecting basic art skills in foundation courses such as drawing, design, and color theory.

If you choose this major, you’ll learn how to teach drama and/or dance to students of various ages (usually kindergarten through twelfth grade).

When you see an incredible drama or dance performance, you might get the feeling that the performer was just born to be onstage. The fact is that many stars had wonderful teachers who encouraged and motivated them.

Tom Hanks, for example, credits his high school acting teacher for inspiring him. And gifted performers often complete the cycle by themselves becoming teachers. If you love being onstage and enjoy teaching others what you know, consider majoring in drama or dance education.

Students in early childhood education learn how to teach children who may range from infants to third graders, according to the school system.

Are you the babysitter whom kids call fun and parents call responsible? Are you the person to whom children sidle up at the park or potluck, sensing they've found a friend? Are you the kid who used to take on the role of teacher when you played school with your friends?

If you answered yes, you share a lot in common with people who work with children as a profession. You might consider majoring in early childhood education. You’ll learn how to create and manage a nurturing, safe classroom where every child thrives.

Ecology majors study the web of living and nonliving things in an environment to understand how the whole system works.

If you’ve ever gotten so caught up in details that you’ve lost sight of the big picture, then you know what people mean when they say you can’t see the forest for the trees.

But when ecologists get to work, they not only look at the trees, they look at the animals, the rocks, the soil, and the air. In short, they look at the forest -- the whole picture of a given area.

Economics majors learn about economic theory, economic systems such as capitalism, and mathematical methods. They use their knowledge to analyze how limited resources are made, traded, and used.

As the old song says, money makes the world go 'round. However, without the proper knowledge, it’s difficult to figure out exactly how.

Economics majors learn to decode the systems behind what can often appear impossible to understand. They study economic models and theories to analyze how the seemingly simple acts of buying and selling can be complicated by factors such as taxes, interest rates, inflation, labor disagreements, and even the weather.

Education majors study how people learn and how to best teach them. Classes cover such topics as educational psychology, school health and safety issues, and the planning of classroom activities.

Do you find yourself reading stories to younger kids or organizing games for your cousins at the family picnic? Do you feel proud when you've explained a difficult math problem to a friend and his face lights up with understanding?

If you major in education, you’ll develop your talents into the skills every teacher needs. You’ll find out how to set up and manage a classroom, design and teach inspiring lessons, and help students succeed no matter what their age, background, or learning style.

As an electrical engineering major, you’ll study electricity: how it works, how it’s generated, and how it’s used to power everything from lightbulbs and radios to cell phones and robots. You’ll also learn how to design your own electric-powered projects.

Imagine a blackout. You’re in the dark and without the gadgets you normally take for granted. There’s no better time to appreciate electricity.

As an electrical engineering major, you’ll go far beyond an appreciation of the awesome powers of the electron. You’ll learn how to harness that power and use it to perform a few miracles of your own invention.

Electronics technology majors learn the basic skills needed to operate, maintain, install, and repair electrical and electronic equipment.

Are you the type who takes apart the toaster just to see if you can put it back together again? If so, you may want to major in electronics technology.

In this broad-based program, you’ll learn the basics of electronics and electricity, from circuits to microprocessors. With a certificate or associate’s degree under your belt, you’ll be ready to apply your skills installing phone and home-alarm systems, fixing washing machines, troubleshooting computer ills -- and much more.

This major focuses on the teaching of elementary grades, which can range from kindergarten through eighth grade, depending on the school system.

Science fiction author Ray Bradbury has penned more than fifty books, including the ever-popular Fahrenheit 451. You'd think a famous futurist would spend all his time dreaming up new electronic devices or planning trips to the moon. Not Bradbury. One of his favorite topics is the importance of, in his words, "teaching kids to read and write and think." For Bradbury, giving children a solid education prepares our whole society to better meet the future.

Maybe you share Bradbury's vision -- or maybe you just like kids. Either way, you might enjoy working as an elementary school teacher. Courses in this major will prepare you to teach all elementary subjects, from reading to 'rithmetic.

Students in this major learn the techniques and develop the leadership skills they need to protect against, prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters.

New York’s firefighters were hailed for their heroic efforts on 9/11. But all levels of government -- from the White House to the mayor of New Orleans -- were attacked when Hurricane Katrina hit. Why didn’t the government respond faster? Why wasn’t the area better protected against floods? Why were so many left stranded? These are the kinds of questions you’ll consider if you choose this major.

Students of emergency medical technology learn the skills needed to provide care to patients in medical crisis.

Talk about getting your adrenaline pumping. Being an EMT (emergency medical technician) or paramedic is about as high drama as it gets. Imagine being first on the scene, giving lifesaving shocks to a stopped heart or tying a tourniquet to stop the gush of blood from a leg. These are just two examples of the skills you’ll learn as an EMT major.

EMT students can choose from four different levels of training, from a forty-hour course (leading to work as a first responder) to a two-year associate’s degree (leading to work as a paramedic). Either way, you’ll learn the best way to help patients before they make it to the hospital.

Students of engineering and industrial management learn how to plan and manage engineering and industrial projects.

From estimating the costs of materials to ensuring that a site is safe for workers, industrial managers make sure that engineering projects are completed safely, on time, and within budget.

Majors in engineering and industrial management prepare for this role. They learn how to manage finances by mastering mathematical methods and studying economic theories as well as looking at real examples from the business world. Students also gain hands-on experience in factories and other job sites.

Engineering technology majors learn the engineering skills they need to assist engineers in a variety of projects.

Why are some car parts made from plastic while others are shaped from metal? How does a refrigerator work? What’s the best way to build a robot that can weld? If knowing what makes things tick is just the beginning for you -- if you want to know how to make them tick -- then consider a major in engineering technology.

Engineering technology majors learn many of the engineering concepts and design skills that engineering majors study. But they have the option of earning an associate’s degree, which they can complete in only two years.

English majors read, discuss, and write about the literature and culture of English-speaking people. They also learn about the history, structure, and use of the English language.

If you love to curl up with a good book, then majoring in English might be for you. But there's a lot more to studying English than just reading novels, short stories, plays, and poetry by English-speaking writers. You'll have to examine what you read and come up with opinions about it. For example, you might have to explain a book's main theme or show what it reveals about cultural stereotypes. You'll then have to share your views in class discussions and in papers.

One of the great things about majoring in English is that you can bring your personal interests into your studies. For instance, you can focus on the literature of a certain time period, location, or author.

Entrepreneurship majors learn how to build, promote, and manage their own businesses. They also learn how to apply their creativity and energy to make existing businesses more productive.

Have you ever said to yourself, “You know, I can think of a better way to do that” -- and then actually done something about it? If so, you already have the basic ingredients for success as an entrepreneur.

These businesspeople do whatever it takes to bring the world the latest products and services -- whether it's the next best computer software or ballpoint pen. Becoming an entrepreneur is one way to improve people’s lives.

Students in environmental engineering learn to design, develop, and evaluate structures, equipment, and systems that protect the environment from the effects of human activity and that improve public health and well-being.

We humans have a long history of polluting our air, water, and soil. This contamination not only hurts nature, but is dangerous to people. Luckily, environmental engineers are on the job. They use math and science to clean up the messes we've made and prevent new ones from happening. For example, they might figure out how to clean up toxic material that has seeped into the ground at an old gas station or design an effective way to treat wastewater. 

If you choose this major, you’ll study a wide range of subjects. Besides learning the basics of engineering, you’ll also take courses in the life and social sciences so you can understand environmental problems in all their complexity.

Students of environmental science learn how the physical and biological processes that shape the natural world interact. They also look at how we affect nature and come up with solutions to environmental problems.

When coal and oil are burned, they form acids that fall to the earth as rain. Acid rain can do a lot of damage, such as killing off living things in lakes. Scientists figured out, however, that lakes on limestone rock were less affected than others. Why? Limestone weakens acid. So as a short-term solution, scientists added lime to lakes where it doesn't occur naturally.

No single science was enough to come up with this solution -- it took experts in biology, chemistry, geology, and other sciences. If you major in environmental science, you'll learn to use the ideas and methods of a number of biological and physical sciences to tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems.

Students of environmental studies use what they learn in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities to understand environmental problems. They look at how we interact with the natural world and come up with ideas for how we can prevent its destruction.

We use cars to get to work, run errands, and visit friends. Most of these cars run on gas, but the oil we use to make gas is running out. What’s more, drilling for oil destroys natural areas, and burning gas creates pollution. Other ways to power cars, such as electricity, ethanol, and biodiesel, already exist. So why isn't everyone using these energy sources?

To answer this and other important environmental questions, you’ll need to draw on the ideas of many fields, such as science, economics, and politics. If you major in environmental studies, you’ll learn how.

Ethnic studies majors examine race and ethnicity, focusing on a comparative and interdisciplinary study of the history and culture of minorities in the United States.

What do we mean when we say race? What about ethnicity? How has the immigrant experience changed in the last hundred years? How does a history that includes the enslavement, displacement, and exclusion of people of color shape the United States today? And how can we begin to overcome this legacy? These are some of the many questions you'll explore as an ethnic studies major.

You'll study ethnic groups from every angle to arrive at a greater understanding of our diverse world. To do so, you'll take classes in disciplines that range from history, political science, economics, and sociology to literature, music, and art history.

Exercise science majors study the science of the human movement. They also learn how to help people live healthier lives through exercise, rehabilitation, and nutrition.

Do you get a rush from organized sports? Do you feel proud when you work out with teammates and help one another succeed? Is eating well and maintaining a healthy lifestyle a priority to you?

If so, maybe you should go for gold and study the field of exercise science. You’ll learn the science behind everything from jogging to low-carb diets.

Students of family and consumer sciences learn about issues that affect individuals, families, and communities -- especially issues that relate to the basic needs of food, shelter, clothing, and relationships.

This major used to be known as, and is sometimes still called, home economics. And when you think home economics, you might think homemade brownies and needlepoint throw pillows.

But if you study family and consumer sciences at the college level, you’ll find there’s a lot more to “home ec” than that. Students in this major learn about child development, family relations, consumer economics, personal finance, fashion design, housing, and nutrition. 

Fashion design majors learn the nuts and bolts of designing and making clothing and accessories. Classes cover everything from sketching and computer design to pattern making and fabric selection.

You may dream of seeing your creations on the runway. But if you decide to take the plunge and major in fashion design, get ready to be snapped into reality.

This is one demanding major. Working around the clock to finish original creations won't be enough. You'll also have to meet the highest standards of accuracy, taking exact measurements and cutting patterns to precision. But if fashion is your passion, this major may be custom-made for you.

Students in fashion merchandising learn how to manufacture, buy, promote, and sell fashion items, from clothing and jewelry to cosmetics and furniture. They also learn about textiles (fabrics and the fibers used to make them).

Do you like to spend your Saturdays sifting through flea markets for the latest retro fashions? Do your friends always want to borrow your chic shoes and your funky accessories? If so, maybe you should take a walk down the fashion runway. As a student in fashion merchandising, you’ll learn about fabrics and textiles. You’ll also get to study the cultures and subcultures that shape the way people dress.

The result? You’ll graduate as a savvy business professional with your finger on the pulse of the fashion world.

As a student in film production, you'll learn how to make movies, exploring the role of each person on a film set. You’ll also study movies, learning from the production choices of other artists.

If every picture tells a story, then movies tell a series of small important stories. Each carefully composed scene is framed, lit, and paced to bring meaning to the script. Every detail, from where the actors stand to the sound of rustling leaves, is the result of planning and cooperation. It’s a good day on a film shoot when a three-page scene is shot the way the director and cinematographer pictured it months before. If you major in film production, you’ll find out how people, ideas, and technology come together to create the movies that become a part of our lives.

As a film studies major, you’ll study film history, theory, and criticism, as well as the basics of film production. You’ll also examine related arts such as television and video.

Think of your favorite movie. Was it the story you liked? Or the characters? The action? How about the look of it? Digging deep into your gut feelings about movies is just the beginning of film studies.

If movies mean more to you than just an evening out with your friends, this could be the major for you. You’ll learn how to discuss and write about films critically. You’ll also learn about the connections movies have to history and national identities. You’ll even learn what all those people listed in the credits actually do. P.S. A gaffer is a lighting technician.

Finance majors learn how to make financial decisions for organizations. Course work covers such topics as planning, raising funds, making wise investments, and controlling costs.

The field of finance is largely about helping businesses and other organizations make money. But there's more to that task than meets the eye. As a finance major, you'll learn how to plan for the long term. It’s not enough for a company to be ahead of the pack today -- it has to be successful five, ten, even twenty years down the line.

Managing finances with the future in mind means answering tough questions like these: Can we afford to give employees a raise? Can we spend less on raw materials this year? Is it better to rent or buy office space?

Students in this major learn about the biology and ecology of fish and shellfish and study the areas where they live. They also examine the ways we produce, manage, and use these animals to ensure their protection.

Almost every species of Pacific salmon is endangered or threatened. One way to make sure that salmon survive is to limit the number of fish that can be caught. However, people depend on fishing for salmon to make a living, and their needs must also be considered. What's more, overfishing is only one piece of the puzzle. Development -- from new highways to power-producing dams -- as well as pollution can disrupt the salmon's life cycle.

If you choose this major, you'll learn to look at the big picture and use methods from the biological, physical, and social sciences to make sure that fish populations, like the Pacific salmon, remain healthy.

Food science majors combine studies in biology, chemistry, and other sciences to learn what it takes to bring affordable, safe food to supermarket shelves.

Yum. That leftover pepperoni pizza sure looks good -- but it’s been in the refrigerator for a week. Is it safe to eat?

As a food science major, you’ll study questions like this as well as the basics of food harvesting, transporting, preparation, and more. By getting a solid grounding in science and learning to apply it to real-world issues, food science majors can prepare for jobs that help to keep our food supply wholesome.

Students of foods, nutrition, and wellness learn about food and its effect on our health. Their studies include food preparation and safety, nutritional education, and more.

Is a low-carb diet really the healthiest way to eat? Why do we get cranky when we don’t get enough B vitamins? How can vegetarians pump up the protein in their diet?

If these questions intrigue you, you may want to major in foods, nutrition, and wellness studies. Whether you see yourself developing recipes in a test kitchen, counseling clients on nutrition, or inspecting foods for a government agency, a smorgasbord of options awaits you in this diverse and growing field.

This program prepares students to teach foreign language programs other than French, German, or Spanish to students of various ages (mostly kindergarten through twelfth grade).

Studying a foreign language has its own momentum: The more you learn, the more you want to learn. Say you love Italian food and decide to study Italian. At first it's hard. But one day you meet some Italian tourists on the bus and you understand enough to point them toward their hotel. Before you part ways, they give you their e-mail address. Now you want to write to them -- so you study some more.

Do you enjoy learning a foreign language? Can you picture yourself teaching it to kids? If so, consider becoming a foreign language teacher.

Forensic chemistry majors learn how to apply the concepts and techniques of chemistry to the testing of evidence from crime scenes and victims. They also learn how to write reports on their findings and present them in court.

The difference between .07 and .08 may not sound like much. But to the suspect arrested for drunk driving, it could mean the difference between conviction and acquittal.

As a forensic chemistry major, you'll not only learn how to measure a suspect's blood-alcohol level and run other lab tests. You'll also study the theory behind the tests. Preserving the chain of evidence and defending your findings in court are two other important skills that you'll pick up.

Forensic science majors study science and criminal justice. They learn how to analyze blood, DNA, and other evidence and to use it in a court of law.

“DNA test confirms suspect’s innocence.” Does that sentence make you sit up and take notice? Have you ever wondered how tire marks can prove the cause of an accident? If so, you may want to consider majoring in forensic science. You’ll learn how to collect evidence at the scene of the crime and how to test it in the lab. You’ll also learn how to write  reports, interview witnesses, and prepare for trial.

With today’s advanced technology, forensic scientists are solving more crimes than ever before -- and that’s just one reason why the field is growing.

Students in this major learn how to manage and develop forests for varied purposes, from the production of wood products to recreation to preserving biodiversity (the variety of living things in an area).

By 2004, there were 200,000 acres in Tennessee where all the trees had been logged to meet the world's demand for paper products. This land was replanted with fast-growing pine trees to get wood more quickly. The forest in this region is one of the most species rich in North America. However, where only pine is planted, 90 percent of these species disappear.

If you go into forestry, you'll have to balance growing trees for wood products with preserving the variety of living things in an area. To meet challenges like these, you'll have to combine ideas from the life, physical, and social sciences and be a strong communicator.

Genetics is the study of how DNA is passed down from one generation to the next.

You may have heard of Gregor Johann Mendel. He was the monk whose research on peas led to the understanding of how organisms inherit traits from their parents. Mendel studied how certain physical traits were passed from one generation of peas to the next. This research lead to the modern scientific field of genetics.

Since his pioneering research, scientists have discovered how DNA, the genetic code that tells an organism how to work and grow, is copied from one generation and then rewritten and recombined for the next generation. If you major in genetics, you’ll look at inheritance (including hereditary diseases) and the genetic path of evolution.

Geography majors study how space on the earth’s surface is placed and used. Students who concentrate on physical geography focus on the land itself, studying such topics as climate, soil, and water. Cultural, or human, geography explores the relationship between people and the land.

If you think geography is all about staring at maps and memorizing state capitols, you couldn’t be more wrong. As a geography major, you’ll study a wide variety of subjects: deserts in the making, the causes of racially segregated housing, the paths of tornados, and the way international trade agreements affect business in a small town. 

As one senior geography major put it, “What we study is how the world works. Is there anything more important or more engaging than that?”

Geology students look at the earth and the forces acting upon it, including the solids, liquids, and gasses that make it up. Study includes such topics as historical geology, rock and soil chemistry, and the use of minerals in industry.

How did Mount Everest, the highest place on earth, come into being? Why do the rocks of the Andes Mountains in South America contain fossils of ocean fish? As geology majors explore the Earth's history, they gain valuable insight into some of today's most pressing concerns, such as global climate change.

If you study geology, you’ll learn about the Earth's treasures, such as fossils and gems, as well as its dangers, such as volcanoes and earthquakes.

Gerontology majors study the human aging process and the biological, behavioral, and social changes associated with aging. One topic of study is the provision of services to older people and their families.

Between 1946 and 1964, a large group of people were born in the United States. The oldest of these baby boomers, as they’re called, will turn 65 in 2011. If that fact brings to mind mobs of frail, crotchety people, think again.

Research suggests that our behaviors before the age of fifty affect our physical and mental health in old age. Of course, the challenges of aging won't disappear. But boomers who exercise regularly, eat healthfully, stay active mentally, and tackle emotional problems soundly can look forward to years of activity and pleasure.

Global studies majors compare regions across the globe to shed light on world issues. They study many different fields, including political science, economics, and cultural studies.

Global studies majors are “global thinkers” in every sense. Drawing from fields as different as geography, music, political science, and ecology, they look at the connections between nations and peoples and the trends that shape our lives.

And global studies majors don’t just think on a large scale. They may study how something like climate change can affect hundreds of nations, but they also consider its effects on their own backyard.

Graphic design majors learn the design and computer skills necessary to create the look for books, magazines, CD jackets, websites, and more.

Look at a CD jacket, website, magazine, or poster. Are you drawn in by the images and words you see? Are the colors appealing? Is the look open and inviting, or busy and cluttered?

These are the kinds of questions you’ll confront as a graphic design major. You’ll learn the basics of good design, which include the way type (style of lettering) and images are used to make visual statements. Whether your goal is to work in print or multimedia, you’ll learn to use the cutting-edge computer programs that every graphic designer today needs to know.

This major prepares students to teach high school (also called secondary school). High school usually includes grades nine through twelve.

Think about the best teacher you've ever had. What stands out? A great sense of humor? The ability to guide you through a tough math lesson or stay calm in the midst of chaos? An attitude of concern for each and every student? Many high school educators went into teaching because of a teacher they loved. Do you have such a teacher, one who inspires you to walk in his or her footsteps?

If you choose this major, your studies will cover everything from classroom management to teaching methods to specific subjects, such as history. You’ll also learn how to meet the needs of students who learn in different ways.

History majors learn how to interpret objects and written documents from the past. They also read the works of published historians and evaluate their ideas.

You’ve probably heard older people talk about the “good old days.” But were they really all that good? Were people and ideas all that different? How did the good old days become today?

To answer questions like these, you’ll need to look for clues -- and not only in textbooks filled with dates and biographies. As a history major, you’ll find history in everything from a 1956 Elvis Presley poster to a 1934 ticket stub showing the price of a movie. You’ll even find it in last summer’s playlist of your favorite songs.

By the time you graduate, you’ll know how to decide for yourself what to think about the old days -- good or bad. And, perhaps more importantly, you’ll learn what those days can teach us about today and tomorrow.

Hospitality majors learn to run hotels, restaurants, travel agencies, and other businesses that serve business travelers and vacationers.

As a train traveler headed out West in 1875, you would have had trouble finding a decent meal or a place to rest your head. But Fred Harvey changed all that. He started a chain of restaurants and hotels where clean and polite waitresses served tired travelers everything from oysters to duck and olives to ice cream.

You might say that Harvey tamed the Wild West, making it more hospitable (welcoming and pleasant) to travelers. If you study hospitality management, you'll prepare to follow in his footsteps.

Students in this major learn how to manage hotels, motels, and other lodging businesses such as resorts. Course work covers hospitality law, employee management, financial management, and more.

With the right management, hotels can be a lot more than just a place to sleep. In fact, some become a part of history. The Algonquin in New York City is one such hotel. The great singer Marion Anderson slept there. So did authors Gertrude Stein, Simone de Beauvoir, and William Faulkner.

But the Algonquin is most famous for the group of writers who lunched there daily for a decade beginning in 1919, dishing out sharp-tongued opinions about the world around them. While others called them the Algonquin Round Table, they called themselves the Vicious Circle.

HDFS majors explore the ways in which people develop -- physically, emotionally, and intellectually -- within the framework of family and society. Subjects of study include human growth and development, strategies for promoting growth, and family systems.

Throughout our lives, we go through many major changes. Born helpless, we are transformed through the years -- from infant to child to adolescent to adult. And through it all, we are shaped by our families, our communities, and our society.

Students of human development and family studies (HDFS) look at how people grow and how they form relationships throughout their lives. They explore the dynamics between people within their families as well as those between families and the greater world.

Human resources majors learn how to handle employment issues such as staffing, training, pay, and health and safety in the workplace.

Back in the late 1800s the idea at the cutting edge of business was that people work like machines. If you gave them the right tools and told them exactly how to do their job, they would work better. Since then, human resources has come a long way. People are recognized as psychologically complicated individuals at the heart of every organization. If you major in human resources management, you’ll study people and the workplace  -- and you’ll learn what it takes to meet the needs of people in the workplace.

Human services majors learn how to help people meet basic physical and emotional needs. They go on to assist professionals such as social workers or to become professionals themselves.

Careers and academic programs in human services have their roots in 1950s America. One reason is the movement to deinstitutionalize people with mental illness. In other words, they were brought out into the community instead of shut away in mental hospitals.

As more people with mental illness entered society, there grew a need for workers who could attend to their needs. In 1956, the National Institute of Mental Health responded to the situation. It funded the first associate's degree program in human services at Purdue University in Indiana.

Industrial engineering majors learn how to improve the way factories, hospitals, and other organizations run. They learn to take all factors into account -- from equipment and materials to people.

How many copies of the first Harry Potter book should the corner bookstore keep on its shelf? How many people need to work the night shift at a cupcake factory in order to supply the local chain of grocery stores? Will technology stocks rise or fall over the next three months?

As an industrial engineering major, you’ll draw on math, science, business, and psychology to answer questions like these. You’ll learn how to create factory schedules, determine delivery routes, set up customer service systems, and much more.

Information science majors learn how to create systems for finding and storing data. Students look at the big picture of information exchange and learn how people interact with, use, and sell information.

Students of information science learn about computers, but they also study people. Most importantly, they explore the way people and computers come together.

If you major in information science, you’ll examine the many challenges we face when it comes to technology: How can we build websites that are easy to use? How can we use computers to open new worlds to children without endangering them? How can we bridge the “digital divide” between the haves and the have-nots?

IT majors focus on how information and computing systems support business, research, and communications needs. Instruction ranges from the basics of computer hardware to the complex relationship between humans and computers.

Do your friends and family come to you with computer questions? Do you get a sense of satisfaction when you’ve solved their problems? If so, imagine working some day as the go-to “tech person” at a small company or a large institution where the flow of information is critical to its mission.

As an information technology (IT) major, you'll study computer science, business, and communications. Along the way, you might focus on one specialty such as web development or digital communications. But regardless of your focus, you’ll acquire strong technical and communication skills.

This program prepares students to provide insurance and risk management services to people, businesses, and other organizations.

Let's say a car company employee hurts her hand on the assembly line. Insurance helps pay for the costs of her lost wages, hospital bills, and so forth. But insurance companies and other businesses want to keep costs down by preventing such accidents in the first place.

This prevention is called risk management -- it’s another way that insurance companies protect against loss and harm. If you major in insurance, you'll learn about helping companies create safe working conditions as well as other aspects of risk management. Classes cover everything from health insurance to pension planning.

Interior design majors learn how to create practical and beautiful indoor environments, improving people's lives at home and at work and protecting their health and safety.

Look around the room you're in right now. Does it have good lighting? How does it make you feel? Are the colors of the walls in harmony with those of the furniture? Interior designers ask questions like these about the indoor spaces where we spend so much of our time. If you choose this major, you'll learn about much more than choosing wallpaper and matching it to drapes. You'll learn how to turn anything from a college dorm room to a corporate boardroom into a great space.

International business majors learn how to think globally about the business world. They also learn how to manage multinational businesses and turn local and national companies into international success stories.

Do you want to travel and explore other countries? Are you fascinated by foreign cultures? Maybe you’ve got an idea for a T-shirt that would sell great in China. Or maybe you know of a Swedish recipe that restaurant diners in your hometown would gobble up.

Thinking globally -- and understanding how to bring different cultures together -- is the first step in understanding international business.

Majors in international relations study international politics and institutions, learning the principles of diplomacy and foreign policy.

How has the war in Iraq affected relations between the U.S. and the world? Have our actions struck fear in the hearts of our enemies? Have they cost us valuable allies?

International relations majors explore issues like these. In their quest to understand the delicate and complex dance of diplomacy, they study the way nations interact on military, economic, and cultural levels.

Students of Japanese language and literature learn how to speak, write, and read Japanese, and study ancient and modern Japanese literature.

From thousand-year-old novels to three-line haiku, Japanese literature is often still as poignant as the day it was written. Yet as one of today’s economic superpowers, Japanese culture is rapidly changing. Businesspeople speeding to work on bullet trains read new literary forms such as manga comic books. As a Japanese major, you’ll not only discover ancient literary masterpieces; you’ll learn how to function on many different levels in Japanese society today.   

Journalism majors learn to report, write, and edit articles for publication or broadcast.

Are you someone who can’t get enough of the latest headlines? Do you love the thrill of the chase? If so, you may want to consider majoring in journalism. With this degree, you could find yourself covering world events for a major newspaper or TV network, reporting on sports for a local radio station, or writing about entertainment on the Internet.

As a journalism major, you’ll not only master the art of reporting and writing, but you'll also learn about libel and other legal issues that affect the media. And you'll learn what it takes to survive in a tough, but often rewarding, business.

Students of labor and industrial relations explore the history, contributions, and problems of working people as well as their relations with employers. Instruction also covers management theory and practice.

It’s no secret that a downturn in the economy affects employees all over the country. But what legal rights do employees have during a recession? Are they still entitled to health care benefits and unemployment insurance? What about worker’s compensation?

Students of labor and industrial relations study employment issues like these so that they’ll be ready to manage personnel issues for a business, union, or other organization. Their studies are interdisciplinary, including courses in everything from psychology to economics.

Students of landscape architecture learn how to design and create landscapes using plants, trees, structures, and other natural and human-made elements. Classes cover such topics as horticulture (the study of growing plants); landscape design, history, and theory; and project and site planning.

If you love architecture and the outdoors, you might consider studying landscape architecture. Landscape architects design outdoor spaces.

If you study landscape architecture, you might go on to help parks bloom in big cities. You could also study plants with a master gardener, design the green space for a new suburban community, or help restore a wetland. You might cooperate with an architect to create outdoor areas that beautify and accent the buildings they surround.

Students of library and information science learn the skills they need to work as librarians or information consultants. Classes cover developing, storing, finding, organizing, and using information -- whether it's written in a book, posted on a website, recorded on a video or CD, or captured on a slide.

Many of us picture librarians as old-fashioned bookworms. Yet here's how one student describes today's librarians: “[They] help people find jobs [and] search the Internet. They help kids and parents find homework resources. They introduce people to the joys of reading … and they protect our rights to freedom of speech."

Most librarians study library science at the graduate level only. If becoming a professional librarian is your goal, you may want to major in another area of interest as an undergraduate. For example, a bachelor’s degree in science will come in handy if you hope to work as a science librarian someday.

Linguistics deals with the structure of language (including syntax, phonetics, and grammar), the relationships between languages, and the way languages change over time.

The sentence that you are reading right now has a structure that can be taken apart and analyzed, just like sentences written in other languages have structures unique to them. Yet, since all humans are, after all, human, every language also contains universal linguistic elements.

Linguistics majors study how languages like Spanish, French, Korean, Hopi -- and even computer programming languages -- function and how people learn to speak and write in those languages.

MIS majors study information systems and their use in business and other organizations. They learn about computer databases, networks, computer security, and more.

Everyone who works in business, from someone who pays the bills to the person who hires and fires, uses information systems. For example, a supermarket could use a computer database to keep track of which products sell best. And a music store could use a database to sell CDs over the Internet. If you major in management information systems (MIS), you’ll learn how to put technology to work.

Students of management science learn how to use math and science to design systems, make decisions, and solve problems for businesses. They take courses in high-level math, statistics, computer science, and business.

When most of us go to the airport, we're busy -- saying goodbye to mom and dad, or buying a last-minute box of candy to take to the aunt in Arizona. Most of us don't pause to think about who planned all the systems we're passing through. Who decided when our flight would leave, from which gate, and what route it would travel? Who figured out which pilot and flight crew would be assigned to our airplane? Who set up the security checkpoints?

Management science majors learn the skills and techniques they’ll need to help businesses such as airlines solve complex problems.

Marine biology majors study the creatures that live in the oceans. They also look at the habitats and ecological environments in which these organisms live.

Oceans cover two-thirds of the earth's surface. And while their surfaces often look smooth, the oceans are teeming with life. Oceans provide animal habitat all the way down to the ocean floor. Since oceans are, on average, over 2.5 miles deep, this means that they contain 99.5 percent of our planet's livable habitat. Within that vast space, the oceans are filled with a huge range of microscopic organisms, animals, and plant life.

If you major in marine biology, you’ll learn how this life thrives in the oceans. You’ll study such subjects as the chemical makeup of water, the ocean’s geology, marine mammals, fish, plants, and biological habitats.

Students of marine sciences study all aspects of the ocean, making use of both the biological and the physical sciences.

How do oceans affect global climate patterns? Why have coral reef diseases begun to multiply? And why are more sea lions having miscarriages? As a student of marine sciences, you'll examine questions like these. Although your focus in this interdisciplinary major will be the ocean, you'll also study its complex relationship with life on land.

Marketing majors learn how to create and sell new products and services in ways that will build a large and loyal group of customers.

When Barbie first came onto the scene in 1958, she was unique. Unlike the other dolls on store shelves, Barbie was no child. And playing with her, young girls for generations have acted out visions of their future. Barbie is more than just a plastic doll; she's a fantasy.

As Barbie shows, when people make a purchase, they buy more than a product or service. They also buy something that's harder to put your finger on. Marketing majors learn how to discover the special something that people want and how to convince them that their product has it.

Mass communications majors undertake a thorough investigation of mass media, from its institutions, history, and laws to the ways in which it transforms our culture.

Which do you trust more -- the news you see on the tube or the news you read on the Internet? How have TV, newspapers, and other forms of mass media shaped your life? What influence do advertisers have on the choice of music played on the radio? 

As a mass communications major, you’ll examine questions like these. You’ll analyze different forms of media, study the impact media has on our culture, and learn about media history and laws. You may also have a chance to test the waters by creating media projects of your own.

As a materials engineering major, you’ll use math and science to study ceramics, metals, polymers (such as glass, rubber, and plastic), and other materials. You’ll learn how to invent and manufacture new materials.

In 1953, when Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first people to reach the top of Mount Everest, they wore heavy layers of wool and cotton. On their way up, they slept in a cotton tent. Today’s mountain climbers wear lightweight polyester fleeces that keep them warm. They have thin, wind-resistant shells to help keep out the cold air, and warm boots that are light enough to run in. Tents are waterproof and windproof.

High-tech gear like that wouldn’t be possible without modern materials. Everything is made out of something, whether cotton, titanium, or GORE-TEX -- materials engineering majors study that something.

Math majors study quantities, forms, and symbolic logic in such subjects as algebra, geometry, calculus, logic, topology, and number theory.

Most of us are comfortable using everyday math -- when we go shopping, for example. But higher level math, such as calculus, may seem mysterious, a completely unfamiliar language. As a math major, you’ll study this language and learn how to use it to describe the world. You’ll explore calculus, modern algebra, and other high-level math in the purest light.

If you love to solve math problems just to know the answer and enjoy using abstract concepts to discover whether something is true or false, this could be the major for you.

As a mechanical engineering major, you’ll learn the science behind machines and the energy that makes them work. You’ll also apply what you learn by creating your own machines.

Machines may not have taken over the world as imagined in some science fiction, but they are certainly a big part of life today.

Students of mechanical engineering learn about the machines that bring convenience and excitement to our lives. They study the physics that make roller coasters loop and planes fly. They learn about the properties of materials that can withstand the heat of the sun and the cold of outer space. And they discover the secrets behind control systems such as the cruise control in the family car.

Students in this major learn to teach middle school (also known as intermediate school or junior high). Middle school can range from grade four through grade nine, depending on the school system.

The middle school years are a thrilling stage in the life cycle. People at this age can master all kinds of physical and mental challenges, doing amazing skateboard tricks, writing inspired essays, and acing math quizzes. Yet, in many ways, they're just beginning to live -- so many experiences lie ahead of them.

Middle school teachers choose to be a part of this exciting turning point. Where some adults see "attitude," gifted teachers see energy and curiosity. They want to help students shape all that potential in ways that will make a positive difference in the world. 

This major prepares students to become ordained Christian ministers or priests. Courses include such topics as church history, Christian ethics, church organization and management, evangelism, and homiletics (preaching).

There's a minister so famous he has a day of the year named after him: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King became a minister at the green age of nineteen and continued to preach until his tragic death at age thirty-nine. His sermons were so eloquent and inspired we still listen to them. Drawing on Christ's example, he fought for the rights not only of African Americans but of all poor people. He was willing to put his life on the line for his religious beliefs.

If you feel you could inspire others to walk in Christ's footsteps, consider majoring in ministry.

Molecular biology majors explore cells, their characteristics, parts, and chemical processes. You’ll pay special attention to how molecules control a cell’s activities and growth.

There’s a range of complexity in life on earth. You can see an amoeba, a complete organism that consists of just one cell, under a microscope. Or you can look in a mirror and see a human being, made up of trillions of cells working together.

In both the amoeba and the human, the cell is a complex, functioning structure, with parts and chemical processes that define what the organism is and does. In molecular biology, you’ll study the cell and gain an understanding of how it works.

Students of music learn about the history of music, music theory and composition, and the performance of one or more instruments. Classes cover such topics as musical styles, ear training, and performance.

The study of music is as varied as the kinds of music that exist throughout the world, from Renaissance to rap. Music majors study everything from producing pop albums to staging performances as they were staged in Mozart’s time. 

The bachelor of arts (B.A.) in music is usually offered at liberal arts colleges. Generally, the B.A. requires a lot of course work outside the area of music. At a music conservatory, on the other hand, you can earn a bachelor of music (B.M.) degree, which will prepare you for a career as a professional musician.

Musical theater majors undergo intensive training in acting, singing, and dancing in preparation for professional theater careers.

Are you ready to set the world on fire with your big voice, awesome acting skills, and smooth dance moves? Then majoring in musical theater may be the ticket for you.

But just as Broadway isn’t for the faint of heart, neither is this demanding, performance-oriented program. You'll not only take a rigorous schedule of acting, singing, and dancing classes. You'll also spend countless nights and weekends rehearsing for, and performing in, student productions. This is a major for the brave and the committed only.

Natural resources majors learn how to save natural areas and the plants and animals that live in them. They study how to use natural resources, such as trees, in ways that won’t harm the environment.

What does wood for building homes have in common with water for drinking? They both are natural resources, and they both must be managed wisely to protect nature and to ensure the well being of future generations. Animals and plants are also natural resources that must be preserved to keep the planet healthy.

If you choose this major, you’ll learn what it takes to keep a natural area functioning. You’ll also explore smart ways to use nature for recreation and for producing goods. You'll use everything from biology to economics to confront some of the most world’s toughest problems.

Students in this major learn to plan, develop, manage, and choose between programs that protect natural areas and natural resources, such as trees and water.

As suburbs expand, they often hit the border of natural areas. And if a wildfire breaks out, disaster may follow. How can we preserve nature and protect people? Setting controlled fires to clear out dead brush and prevent bigger fires is one solution. Others feel that cutting down some trees and thinning forests is the way to go. Planning communities more carefully is another solution. Which policy would you choose?

In this major, you'll use what you learn in the life, physical, and social sciences to come up with policies that both preserve the environment and help people.

Neuroscience majors study a combination of subjects, including psychology and chemistry, to deepen their understanding of the brain and the nervous system.

Everyone gets stressed out now and then, and some stress is healthy. Say a dad sees his toddler toppling off a play structure. His brain releases chemicals that trigger other reactions in his body, giving him a burst of energy to dash to his daughter before she hits the pavement.

But neuroscientists have found that too much stress can hurt a part the brain’s hippocampus, which plays a key role in memory. Neuroscientists are working on treatments for stress -- but the best remedy may be to just mellow out. If you major in neuroscience, you’ll study stress, memory, and other mysteries of the brain and nervous system. 

Nuclear engineering majors study radioactive materials and radiation and learn how to use them in areas such as power, nuclear medicine, and industry.

It wasn’t long ago that scientists first began to split the atom, releasing nuclear energy in a process called fission. Now nuclear energy is used to supply electricity to homes all over the world and may someday be used to power rockets twice as fast as a space shuttle.  And in medicine, radiation plays a big role, making possible everything from x-rays to treatments that destroy cancer cells.

Of course, nuclear energy also creates problems, such as the radioactive waste from nuclear power plants. As a nuclear engineering major, your studies will go beyond the basics of fission and the benefits of nuclear energy to include its challenges.

Nursing majors train to care for sick and disabled patients and to promote better health.

It’s a typical morning at a city hospital. A woman arrives complaining of severe stomach pain. A nurse asks her a series of direct questions about her symptoms and learns what may be causing the pain. The nurse alerts a doctor, and they work together to order tests and begin treatment. Upstairs, a second nurse administers chemotherapy drugs to a patient who suffers from cancer. On another floor, a third nurse helps to deliver a baby. 

If you study nursing, you may train in a hospital like this where nurses care for, educate, and enhance the lives of patients every day. You’ll learn about everything from examining patients and treating their immediate needs to keeping up the health of people with long-term conditions.

Nutrition sciences majors research the complex relationship between the body, nutrients, and health.

In terms of health, we are what we eat. Nutrition science majors study how our bodies transform everything from hot dogs to salads into energy we can use. They also study how changes like aging, illness, exercise, and pregnancy affect our digestion.

As a student of nutrition sciences, you'll explore the latest research in, for example, the benefits and possible dangers of antioxidants.

This program prepares students to supervise and manage people and operations in business offices. Classes cover such topics as employee supervision, records management, budgeting, scheduling, and public relations.

In Bartleby the Scrivener, Herman Melville's strange, riveting tale, a solemn young Bartleby one day refuses to do his work. His reason? "I would prefer not to." Although Bartleby stops working, he keeps showing up, to the distress of the other employees.

Scholars find a wide range of meanings in Melville’s story. But whatever their interpretation, one thing’s certain: Bartleby creates a difficult workplace situation. If you major in office management, you’ll learn to handle such challenges professionally.

Operations management majors learn how to manage the development, production, and manufacturing of products and services. Topics of study include factory management, labor relations, and quality control.

Hamburgers didn’t become one of the world’s most popular foods just because they taste good -- although that didn’t hurt. Fast food got a big boost in 1954, when Ray Kroc franchised the McDonald brothers’ restaurants. He came up with the idea of using assembly lines to turn out cheap, identical burgers.

Operations management majors learn from success stories like Kroc’s. Their goal? To become experts on getting the best products and services to consumers as quickly and cheaply as possible.

This major prepares students to work under the supervision of a lawyer or court, completing research, conducting investigations, and keeping records. Courses cover legal research and writing.

Much of what paralegals do (researching legal questions and writing legal documents, for example) is the same work that attorneys do. So why not become an attorney instead -- especially since attorneys make more money? 

Some people choose the paralegal route because they don't want to go through three years of law school in addition to receiving a bachelor's degree. Others want a meaningful way of participating in the legal process without the demanding schedules that attorneys face.

Of course, there's no reason you can't do both. Some people start out by getting paralegal training and working as a paralegal for a time, and then go to law school.

The study of peace and conflict resolution is devoted to the origins, resolution, and prevention of conflict between both individuals and countries.

Why do humans clash? It may be two neighbors disagreeing over a fence or a devastating worldwide war. Whatever a conflict’s scale, students of peace and conflict resolution seek the causes. They hope eventually to use their skills to help prevent war and encourage peace.

Students of peace and conflict resolution study the teachings of peacemakers such as Martin Luther King, Jr. They also examine the philosophy, sociology, and psychology of war and peace. And they put their knowledge into action by applying concepts to real-world situations, interning at local organizations or even forming their own.

Pharmaceutical sciences majors apply chemistry, biology, and related sciences to the study of drugs. After graduation, they go to graduate school in pursuit of higher-level research positions or take jobs in pharmaceutical research, administration, marketing, sales, or regulatory affairs. This major does not prepare students to work as pharmacists.

In the early 1940s, tuberculosis was still a killer with no effective treatment; hundreds of thousands died in 1942 alone. But that changed when Selman Waksman and his colleagues, working with soil, isolated streptomycin, a new type of antibiotic. Although it was later found that it takes a combination of drugs to cure tuberculosis, streptomycin was the first to fight the disease. Waksman earned a Nobel Prize for his work.

Such breakthroughs don’t happen every day. But if you’d like to be involved in the research, testing, and manufacture of new drugs, a pharmaceutical sciences major will give you the knowledge and skills you need. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be on another history-making team.

Philosophy majors examine basic questions about such topics as the nature of existence and knowledge. They also study the history of philosophy, learn how to use logic and argue their ideas, and use philosophy to better understand other fields.

Philosophy dates back to ancient times when Confucius and Plato walked the earth. Yet it is very much alive today in such questions as whether or not computers think. Philosophers question issues that others either take for granted or find too difficult to ponder. If you choose this major, you'll find yourself asking everything from why we should be good to how we know what we know. You'll even question your own questions.

Some philosophy undergrads become philosophers. But most by far build careers in other areas, such as law. And thanks to all that pondering, all develop great skills in logic, problem solving, and creative thinking that pay off in any field.

This major prepares students to teach physical education and coach sports at various educational levels.

Freddy Adu, soccer superstar. Kimmie Meissner, figure-skating champ. Annika Sörenstam, golf pro. What do these world-class athletes have in common? They all have gifted coaches behind them, people who have helped them reach the heights of strength, grace, and speed. But coaches and physical education teachers don't just groom future sports celebrities. By working in schools and youth programs, they help all young people have fun while getting fit. 

Would you enjoy coaching a basketball team, teaching a dance class, or demonstrating a juggling trick? Do you want to help kids become confident, coordinated, and team-spirited? If so, consider a career as a physical education teacher or coach.

Physician assistance majors train to practice medicine as part of a team supervised by doctors.

Are you interested in health and medicine? Do biology, chemistry, and psychology rank among your favorite courses? Can you imagine working with physicians and patients in a busy city hospital? Or what about working with a physician in a small rural community? If you answered yes to these questions, a major in physician assistance may be the right choice for you.

Since physician assistants are often the first person to assess a patient’s health, you’ll learn how to recognize and treat everything from the common cold to life-threatening diseases. Your studies will range from basic medical and clinical sciences to specialized fields such as pediatrics, surgery, or psychiatry.

Physics is the scientific study of matter and energy. Topics covered include classical and modern theories, electricity and magnetism, and relativity.

How does the universe work? What are atoms made of? While the first question is about the biggest of things, the second asks about the unimaginably small. Yet both questions fall under the scope of physics. 

Physics majors seek to understand the laws that govern the universe. From gigantic stars trillions of miles away to the subatomic particles within our own bodies, physics takes on matter and energy in all its forms.

Political science and government majors study the systems people set up to organize their societies, from neighborhoods to nations.

Politics affects the air we breathe, the schools we attend, the jobs we do, the communities we live in, and the taxes we pay. If you choose this major, you’ll learn the principles at work behind the decisions that affect every aspect of our lives.

Whether they're conservative or liberal, cynical or idealistic, one common characteristic among political science and government majors is their addiction to politics. If active engagement in the political system is for you, a political science major is a great way to get started. 

Students of practical nursing learn the basic skills they need to assist registered nurses (RNs), doctors, or dentists.

Remember that person who took your blood pressure when you visited the doctor? Or the nurse who gave your mom a bath when she was in the hospital? In both cases, it’s likely you were in the caring hands of a licensed practical nurse (LPN). LPNs (also called LVNs) play a big supporting role in patient care.

In this major, you’ll learn all the skills needed to do the job. Typically a year-long certificate program, practical nursing majors learn everything from taking vital signs to giving injections, applying dressings, and other basic kinds of patient care.

Pre-physical therapy programs provide guidance to students as they prepare for graduate study in physical therapy. They are often concentrations within other majors, such as biology, health sciences, and physical education.

Physical therapy is a relatively young profession, owing its start to the polio epidemics and world wars in the first half of the last century. Physical therapists stepped in to help the large numbers of young people who suffered from movement challenges.

You'll need a thorough grasp of the science of movement to get results as a physical therapist. And you'll start building that knowledge in high school biology and continue to perfect it through graduate school. As an undergrad, you can sign up for a pre-physical therapy program. This is usually not a major, but a program that includes the courses admission officers will look for when you apply to grad school.

Predentistry programs guide students as they prepare for admission into dental school.

"I thrill when I drill a bicuspid," sings Orin Scrivello, the leather-wearing dentist in the musical Little Shop of Horrors. Fortunately, real dentists don't share Orin's taste for causing pain. In fact, some dentists are starting to use painless lasers to root out tooth decay.

If you want to join the legions of professionals who protect teeth and gums from disease -- and keep our smiles bright -- you can start by signing up for a predentistry program.

Almost never offered as a major, a prelaw advising program will help you stay on track as you prepare for law school.

In the movie The Paper Chase, law professor Kingsfield strikes terror into students' hearts. Like many law professors who use the Socratic method, named after the philosopher, Kingsfield asks questions rather than lecturing. And when students answer his questions poorly, he's not above insulting them. But over time viewers realize that Kingsfield's goal is to sharpen his students' ability to reason.

That’s a skill they'll need to succeed as lawyers -- and a skill that law schools look for in applicants. In fact it’s not any specific major that will get you into a top school; it’s sharp thinking, reading, and communication skills that make the difference.

Premedicine programs provide guidance to students as they prepare for medical school, osteopathic medical training, and podiatric medical training.

If medical school is your holy grail, undergraduate programs are available to guide you on your quest for admission. But it’s not a major -- what you choose to major in is up to you.

Students often choose majors in chemistry or biology because they must take several classes in these fields. However, medical schools are also impressed by students with diverse interests. For example, if you have a passion for music, you may want to indulge it before concentrating on your medical studies. As long as you fulfill all of the prerequisite courses for med school, feel free to choose a non-science major.

Prenursing studies programs prepare students for admission into professional nursing programs.

Do you like the thought of helping people young and old battle everything from common colds to life-threatening illnesses? Do you want help making sure that you'll qualify for a bachelor's degree program in nursing?

If you’ve answered yes to these questions, a prenursing program might be a good fit for you. You’ll take a variety of science and math courses that will help you get into a nursing major. You’ll also enroll in liberal arts courses to get a broad education while making sure that you really do want to become a nurse.

Students in this major focus on the theory, methods, and skills needed to write and edit scientific, technical, and business materials.

From computers to cell phones to stereos, technology is ingrained in our lives. That's why technical writers are so important. They create a range of materials, from instruction manuals and training guides to business reports.

If you choose this major, you’ll learn how to translate difficult material into text that's easy for everyone to understand. You’ll learn how important it is to consider the needs of specific audiences and how to use images to get your message across. If you're into both writing and technology and like working with different types of people, from editors to engineers, this could be the major for you.

Psychology majors study the way humans and animals act, feel, think, and learn.

If psychology interests you, you have something in common with the ancient Greek philosophers. They asked questions about the life of the mind: What is the relationship between mind and body? How can we tell if the world is really the way we think it is?

Today's psychologists study all sorts of fascinating questions, such as the following: Why is learning a language as an infant easier than as a teenager? What are the roots of violence? What is the best way to help someone with an eating disorder like anorexia?

Majors in public administration study how administrators enact policy at the local, state, and federal levels.

Whether developing education programs for inner-city youth or working with residents to create a crime-fighting neighborhood watch, public administrators breathe life into public policies.

If you major in public administration, you’ll learn how they do it. You’ll build the skills it takes to bring together diverse groups -- from neighborhood associations to private businesses -- and change communities for the better.

Students of public health prepare for careers evaluating and managing programs that address widespread health threats.

As medicine continues to advance, so do disease and poverty. In recent years we’ve seen the devastating effects worldwide of infectious diseases like AIDS and tuberculosis. 

If you study public health, you’ll learn how government actions; access (and lack of access) to health care; communication and education; and funding all factor into the spread, treatment, and prevention of disease. Your course work will cover epidemiology (the science concerned with the spread and control of disease), preventive medicine, health economics, and health ethics.

Students of public policy analysis learn various methods for studying proposed solutions to public problems.

Should people be allowed to smoke in bars? This is just one public policy debate taking place across the globe. Legislators and other public officials must decide whether the health benefits of a smoking ban outweigh the money that bars -- and even whole cities -- could lose if smokers take their business elsewhere.

Public policy refers to all of the laws, regulations, and other programs developed by governments to solve problems. And if you major in public policy analysis, you’ll make problem solving your specialty. Along the way, you’ll grapple with some of society’s most urgent issues, such as crime, health care, and the quality of the air we breathe. 

Public relations majors learn how to create and promote the images of individuals as well as businesses and other organizations.

Images don’t happen by themselves. Before celebrities step out on the red carpet at Academy Awards time, every detail -- clothes, accessories, makeup, and hair -- is carefully crafted. But image management isn’t reserved for Hollywood stars. It’s a tool used by every political figure, government agency, or business you can think of.

If you’d like to be the person pulling the strings behind the scenes, a major in public relations (PR) may be just the ticket. 

Real estate majors learn how to develop, appraise, purchase, and sell land, houses, and buildings.

When you and your friends have game night, do you always want to play Monopoly? And once you’ve snatched up Park Place and Broadway, are you the type of player who will wheel and deal until you’ve built hotels everywhere? If so, you may want to study real estate.

Real estate professionals are the masters of buying and building property all over the world. These business people know how to make investments pay off, and once you graduate you’ll be ready to join them.

Religious studies majors learn about the nature of religious belief and traditions. Courses focus on specific religions such as Hinduism, academic fields used to study religion such as anthropology, and religious history and politics.

How can religion lead both to the activism of Gandhi, Mother Teresa, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and to cult suicides? How was the universe created? Do we have souls? Religious studies majors explore such questions -- but they don't settle for simple answers. Instead, they seek rich insights through research, reading, writing, and discussion.

Whatever their differences, most religious studies majors agree that, as one student put it, "we are really one people; we just have different ways of expressing truth." If you are fascinated by religious questions and traditions, and enjoy exploring many points of view, consider this major.

This major prepares students to use basic engineering principles and skills to help engineers create and test robots. Courses include the principles of robotics, the design and testing of robots, and robot repair.

A robotic tuna? Dr. Jamie Anderson at MIT designed a "vorticity control unmanned undersea vehicle," or VCUUV -- and it looks like a yellowfin tuna, right down to the yellow fin. It even moves its tail side to side as it swims. Why? Dr. Anderson and others discovered that this flexible movement enables the robot to make sharper, quicker turns than robots with rigid shapes.

Unlike a tuna, though, the VCUUV is stuffed with equipment, including a computer and sensing instruments. Its uses include undersea surveillance (spying) and search-and-rescue missions.

Social work majors learn to practice social work in various settings such as hospitals, child welfare agencies, and the criminal justice system.

Social worker Whitney M. Young, Jr. was a key civil rights activist of the 1960s. Yet most people have never heard of him. That's because while others were protesting in the streets, Young spent much of his time meeting with top businesspeople. Young was skilled at encouraging wealthy white Americans to give money to the movement.

As a social work major, you’ll learn that there are many ways to go about making the world a better place. Some social workers counsel people and help them get services such as subsidized housing and food stamps. Others, like Young, guide social movements, research social issues, or design and set up policy programs such as Social Security.

Sociology majors learn how to study people and the roles they play in society, both as individuals and in groups. Course work covers such topics as families, TV and other mass media, and criminology.

Picture your high school cafeteria for a moment. It’s not just one giant group of students hanging out together, is it? There are probably more than a few cliques.

Have you ever wondered how these cliques form? Or why some kids are more popular than others? Or why people act one way at home and a completely different way at school? If you want to explore questions like these, consider majoring in sociology. 

Soil science majors learn about the chemistry, biology, use, management, and conservation of different kinds of soil.

When he said that an army marches on its stomach, Napoleon captured in a few words the importance of food. However, food is only as good as the soil from which it grows.

Majors in soil science learn the answers to questions like these: Which fertilizers work best for different fruits and vegetables? What types of soils do wheat and corn prefer? And which methods best control weeds? The answers can make or break farmers, and agronomists find great satisfaction doing their part in feeding the world. 

Spanish majors learn how to speak, write, and read Spanish. They study literature written in Spanish, including the literature of Latin America and Latino communities in the United States.

You don’t have to travel as far as Spain to speak Spanish. The language might flourish in your own family or down the street at your local bodega. From Cervantes to Isabel Allende, the range of great literature written by Spanish-speaking people spreads almost as wide as the geography of the language itself.

As a Spanish major, you’ll be able to read the works of these great writers in the original. You’ll also read exciting new Latino writers working in the United States today.     

This major prepares students to teach children or adults with special learning needs or disabilities. Courses cover topics such as diagnosing learning disabilities and creating plans to meet the special needs of each student.

Nancy, a fifth grader, has trouble hearing. But thanks to a special headset that her teacher wears, Nancy is able to hear his voice. She raises her hand often during discussions, her eyes bright with curiosity. 

Alan, a second grader, avoids the writing lesson, instead talking loudly to his aide. Alan has Asperger's syndrome, which makes it hard for him to socialize. After several weeks, with skilled help from his teacher and instructional assistant, Alan is able to write alongside his classmates.

If you like the idea of helping children with special needs such as these, consider becoming a special education teacher.

Students of sports communication, also called sports media and sports journalism, prepare for careers as sports journalists or public relations professionals specializing in sports.

The Super Bowl, the World Cup, the U.S. Open. Start with a major in sports communication and you could find yourself where the action is, covering or promoting big-time sports events. It's not all glamour, though. You might pay your dues covering high school sports for the local paper.

Keep in mind that sports reporting today is about much more than covering games and profiling athletes. Some investigators dig deep into steroid use, racism, and other tough topics.

Statistics students study probability theory and sampling theory. They also learn to use techniques based on these theories to study the relationships between groups of measurements.

Who will win the next presidential election? To find out, you might ask each and every registered voter how they plan to vote. But a more practical way to get your answer is to conduct an opinion poll, questioning only a small sample of registered voters. But how can you use the answers of a small group of people to make a prediction that involves many millions of people nationwide?

That’s where statistics comes into play. Statistics is a field of applied mathematics that relies heavily on computers. Using statistics, pollsters can decide who to interview and how to weigh the information they collect to make accurate predictions.

Students in studio arts learn the skills and techniques they need to express themselves as visual artists.

Why major in art? Why not just grab a paintbrush, pencil, or chisel and do your thing? The reasons to study art in college are many.

You’ll have the chance to try out new media -- you may enter school as a painter and fall in love with printmaking. You might start out sculpting in clay but discover that wood is your true love. From your teachers, you’ll learn skills and techniques that will help you work more efficiently and consistently. With your peers, you’ll practice the art of critique. And in art history classes, you’ll learn from great masters new and old.

Surgical technology students learn the skills needed to assist in the operating room.

Scene: The operating room. A medical team wearing scrubs and masks surrounds the patient lying on the table. The surgeon speaks: “Scalpel.” A technologist briskly hands over the requested instrument.

Surgeons lean heavily on the expert support of surgical technologists. As a surgical technology major, you’ll learn not only how to hand over the scalpel (and other instruments) right on cue, but how to sterilize and clean equipment, maintain inventory, and perform other tasks that help keep everything functioning safely before, during, and after surgery.

Students of sustainable agriculture learn the concepts and techniques they need to practice and promote farming that is environmentally sound as well as profitable.

If you like your produce organic, you're not alone. There's a healthy market for products grown without the aid of chemical fertilizers, herbicides, or insecticides. But how can farmers deliver top-quality food without these tools?

As a student of sustainable agriculture, you'll learn to see agriculture as a partnership with nature. You’ll study earth-friendly techniques like crop rotation -- planting different crops in the same field during different growing seasons. The right combination of crops can have all sorts of benefits. For example, crop rotation can increase soil fertility, prevent erosion, limit disease, interrupt pest growth, and, ultimately, result in a larger harvest.

Theater majors study plays and other dramatic works and their production. Classes cover such topics as theater history, playwriting, acting, and directing, as well as lighting, scenery, and costume design.

If you’ve ever acted in a play, you know how much work it takes to put a production together. A theater major is your ticket to every corner of the theater world.

Whether you specialize in acting or design, you’ll learn in class, backstage, and onstage. You’ll read, discuss, and write about all kinds of theatrical works. You’ll also get your hands dirty applying what you learn in class as you build sets, design costumes, direct, or act in department productions.

Students of theater design and stagecraft learn how to make sets, costumes, lights, and sound all work together in a theatrical production.

If your main interest in theater is not performing onstage but working behind the scenes, theater design and stagecraft may be for you. Majors in this field learn to make the world of a play complete through scenery, costumes, lights, and sound.

As a theater design and stagecraft major, you’ll tackle such challenges as painting a wall to look like a stormy sky or lighting a stage as if the sun is setting. Your classes will cover such topics as set design, lighting, sound, scene painting, and costume design.

Tourism and travel majors learn to manage tourism- and travel-related businesses. Course work includes such topics as travel-agency management, tour planning, convention and event planning, and travel industry law.

Until the 1820s, oceangoing ships carried mostly goods and mail -- not passengers. In 1840, the ship Britannia made history when it introduced an onboard cow for fresh milk. This event signaled the shipping industry's new interest in passenger comfort.

Much later, the cruise industry struggled to stay afloat once air travel across the Atlantic became common. But by the 1960s, it bounced back with Caribbean vacation cruises still popular today.

Urban studies majors use the tools of sociology, economics, and other social sciences to study city life, government, and services. If you choose this major you’ll learn how city dwellers live and behave. You’ll also study the problems they face.

Cities are loud, crowded, concrete jungles, right? But they’re also places full of energy, where great thinkers, artists, and leaders come together and give birth to new and exciting creative movements and ideas.

Urban studies majors learn what makes city culture unique and how urban areas respond to problems and events. You’ll ask yourself many questions as an urban studies major. For example: How do different neighborhoods develop their own identities? How do the buildings and the layout of a city affect its people? What happens when the need for growth clashes with the need to preserve history? How does living close together affect the way city dwellers interact?

Students of voice and opera perfect their skills as singers. Lessons, classes, and recitals help students develop a personal style and prepare them for performing as soloists or ensemble players in choirs or opera companies.

Singers showcase one of the most expressive and beautiful musical instruments on earth -- the human voice. In preparation for professional careers, voice students learn, practice, and perform a variety of vocal pieces, from baroque arias to great nineteenth-century operatic roles.

If you are a singer at heart but also love acting, an opera program may be a great fit. But get ready to add some real drama to the typical music student’s fare of weekly private lessons, nightly rehearsals, and theory classes. Opera singers-in-training also take classes in acting, movement, stagecraft, and even make-up.

Web development majors learn how to use both technical skills and design concepts to create websites.

HTML, XML, SGML: Web languages and other tools used to create websites will continue to evolve. But in college, you can build the foundation you’ll need to keep up with changing technology throughout your career.

As a Web development major, you’ll learn how to create, design, edit, and launch Internet documents, images, graphics, sound, and multimedia products. You’ll also learn about Web page standards and policies, e-commerce, new Web technologies, and more.

Students in this major learn to use the physical, life, and social sciences to manage animals, plants, and their habitats (the areas where they live) for recreation, business, and preservation.

Elk go to wildlife refuges to find food each fall. If a refuge gets overcrowded, disease can spread among them and plants may get damaged. Is the answer to bring in extra food for the elk? To lower their numbers by allowing hunting? To open a refuge in another location?

If you go into this field, you'll have to make decisions about how to best preserve natural areas and the animals and plants that live in them. This can be tough when the needs of two species conflict and when your choices can determine whether a species survives or dies out.

Zoology majors study animals, their internal workings, and their activities.

Some biologists study plants, others study microbes, and some study fungi, such as mushrooms. But if you want to study living things that move a bit faster, then major in zoology. Zoologists study animals with and without backbones, from worms, insects, and mollusks to fish, birds, and, of course, mammals.

If you choose this major, you’ll study the whole organism. But you’ll also look at its parts, from the chemical makeup of its body to its cells and organs. In addition, you’ll study whole populations of species and the ways animals adapt to their environments.

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