CNAS Undergraduate Academic Advising Center

Selecting or Changing Your Major

Please click on the topic below that you wish to be informed about:
Selecting or Changing Your Major

We understand it can be difficult to choose an appropriate major upon admission to UC Riverside, usually at the age of 17 or 18. Although most College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences (CNAS) freshman admits have taken high school classes in biology, chemistry, math, and physics, there are many majors in CNAS that you may not have any first-hand experience with prior to entering the university. In addition, you may not have had the opportunity to review the required curriculum for your intended major, may have untested abilities, or may be unclear on how your intended major is tied to your ultimate career goals and opportunities. As a result, you may find that you need to declare a major or you may wish to change your major after admission. Below is the Four-Step Process to Changing your Major for students who wish to change into a CNAS major from another major within CNAS or from a major outside the CNAS college:

Step 1 Review your academic strengths, weaknesses, hobbies, and career interests

Begin by taking a look at your entire UCR transcript. Draw two lines on a piece of paper. Then, list all the classes that you earned "A's" and "B's" in on one side of the line, and all the classes you earned "C's" or below, on the other side of the line. By doing this simple exercise, you may be able to easily determine where your academic strengths lie. You may also determine where your weaknesses lie.

Next, think about your hobbies, the things you do on a regular basis for free. Also consider your career interests. By reviewing your academic strengths, weaknesses, hobbies, and career interests, you should be able to narrow your search for a new major. For a list of majors offered at UC Riverside, check the UCR General Catalog at http://catalog.ucr.edu .

Step 2 Research majors based on the information you gathered in Step 1

A) Compare and Contrast the Degree Requirements for Prospective Majors
You can find the degree requirements for every UCR major in the UCR Catalog at http://catalog.ucr.edu . Compare the list of requirements for the majors you are considering with your academic strengths and weaknesses from Step 1. Choose majors that let you showcase your academic strengths, while downplaying your weaknesses. Remember, desire or enthusiasm alone isn't sufficient to predict success in a new major or career (i.e., If you have difficulty earning grades of "C" or higher in university math and science courses, CNAS majors probably aren't going to be the best choice for you, no matter how much you like to watch shows about science on television.)

B) Check for Change of Major Criteria
The most popular majors in all four undergraduate colleges at UCR have established "Change of Major Criteria," a list of courses that must be taken and grades that must be earned before your change of major can be considered. These criteria are meant to test a prospective student's dedication to the new major, his/her ability to succeed in the new major, and to ensure that the student will be able to complete graduation requirements within a timely manner, typically within 216 maximum units. Change of Major Criteria for all CNAS majors can be found by clicking the link below. For Change of Major Criteria for majors outside CNAS, see the section below titled "Changing out of a CNAS Major."  Please note some criteria is "graduated," that is, the more units you have earned, the more classes you will have to have completed before the change of major can be reviewed.


Step 3 Consult with the Professional Academic Advisor for the new major

Now that you've done some research, you're ready to talk to the experts. Since change of major advising consultations can often be complicated, you will need to make an appointment in advance before you go to see the Professional Academic Advisor. That way, the advisor can thoroughly review your academic record, and you will both have sufficient time to discuss your progress, so far, and all of your next steps on the way to your new major. It is best to make this appointment after you have completed your research in Steps 1-2 above. That way, you can verify that you're on the right track, but before you've gone too far down the new road. Make sure to come to this session prepared to take notes. This process is sometimes complicated, and you won't want to miss a thing. See the section below entitled, "Change of Major Advisor Contact Information" to contact the appropriate advisor for an appointment.

Step 4 Follow the Plan

After you meet with the appropriate Professional Academic Advisor, you should have a plan that lists all your remaining steps-the list of things you still need to do before you can complete the Change of Major process. Depending on your situation, possible next steps may include some or all of the following: 

  • Repairing your UCR GPA to obtain "Academic Good Standing," this means that your quarter and cumulative GPA's are 2.0 or higher. Students who are not in good standing are not permitted to change their major.
  • Completing Change of Major Criteria
  • Consulting with the Lead Faculty Advisor for the new major

Please note that Change of Major Petitions can only be processed during certain weeks each term. Most advising offices cannot process any Change of Major Petitions during the first week of the quarter due to abnormally high advising traffic to facilitate current-quarter registration. In addition, many advising offices cannot process any Change of Major Petitions from the fifth week of the quarter until the end of the quarter, due to abnormally high advising traffic to facilitate next quarter's registration. Although some advisors may be able to meet to discuss your change of major before the end of the term, most will not be able to process your change of major until after term grades post.

Step 5 File the Change of Major Petition

Once you have completed Steps 1-4 above, it is time to file the actual Change of Major Petition. Please follow the "Change of Major Advisor Contact Information" instructions below, depending on which college houses the major to which you hope to change.

Changing Out of a CNAS Major -- Making the Transition

As a CNAS student, you may find yourself in a situation where a CNAS major no longer fits your academic plan, either by choice or due to academic challenges. The CNAS Undergraduate Academic Advising Center provides specialized advising to students who are transitioning out of CNAS and into CHASS. If you have decided that a science major is not for you, or you are Undeclared and will not meet any CNAS Change of Major criteria by the time you reach 75 units, and you are unsure of how to move forward outside of CNAS, you may benefit from meeting with the Transition Advisor, who will assist you in creating a transition plan. For more information about the Transition process, please visit the Transition Advising page

Change of Major Advisor Contact Information

Bourns College of Engineering Advisor Contact Information-Contact the appropriate advisor by e-mail to request an appointment. http://student.engr.ucr.edu/people/staffcontacts.html

College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences Advisor Contact Information-To meet with the advisor in person, please contact the advisor by telephone to schedule an appointment: http://chassstudentaffairs.ucr.edu/dept/index.html.  You may meet with a CHASS advisor to discuss your interest in a major during the time they are available to meet with students outside of their major, but in order to officially declare, you must meet the change of major criteria.  Please be sure to verify that you meet the change of major criteria for the CHASS major you want to declare (which you can find on each CHASS major page) before setting up an appointment to declare the major.

College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences Advisor Contact Information-Register to attend a Change of Major Workshop, or, if no workshops are available, schedule a one-on-one appointment on-line at http://myadvising.ucr.edu. The list of advisors for each major can be found at the link below.

School of Business Administration Advisor Contact Information-Attend a Business Application Workshop. Click on the link below to see upcoming workshops: http://soba.ucr.edu/calendar/

More Information

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Career OpportunitiesUCR Libraries
Campus StatusDirections to UCR

Advising Center Information

CNAS Undergraduate Academic Advising
1223 Pierce Hall

Regular office hours:
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday: 9:00am - 12:00pm & 1:00pm - 4:00pm
Wednesday: 10:00am- 12:00pm & 1:00pm - 4:00pm

Tel: (951) 827-7294 or (951) 827-3102
Fax: (951) 827-2243 or (951) 827-2798
E-mail: cnasstudent@ucr.edu