Do I need to worry about majors and minors?

Stressed student working on his laptop at a cafe

Applying for a uni degree is a big moment but you don’t need to have everything mapped out before you begin. Even once you start, you’re not stuck if the course is not quite the right fit, or you’ve fallen in love with another subject.

WACE is quickly approaching and, with it, the time to make a decision about what to study at uni. There are probably loads of thoughts rushing through your mind: what degree interests you the most, which one has lots of jobs at the end, or which one will give you several different career pathways to choose from?

While some people know exactly what they want to do – which major, minor and sometimes even the electives they intend to take – this is definitely not the case for everyone. If you’re in Year 12 and worried about picking a major and minor, we can help.

What are majors and minors?

Undergraduate degrees are made up of a major, with the opportunity in most courses to also have a minor and some elective units too. You can also choose a double major or a combined degree to specialise in two areas of study.

A major forms the bulk of what you’ll learn and will be your area of expertise. Every degree has core compulsory units, and there are also optional units within the degree you can select depending on your personal interest and circumstances. Find out more about course structure by searching for a specific course. Your minor can be a complementary subject to your major (a marketing major and creative writing minor for example). Or it can be purely out of interest with no career aspirations in mind.

If your head is swimming with other uni jargon, check out Uni Lingo Explained.

Do I have to choose my major and minor now?

While you do have to nominate a major/degree when you’re applying through TISC, you don’t have to pick a minor. You can also swap majors reasonably easily. It’s important that Year 12 students understand they don’t have to get caught up in the details before applying to uni. You have the freedom to pick and choose once you’re enrolled and you’ve sampled different subjects.

Read more about applying through TISC and applying for the Murdoch First Scholarship.

Can I change my mind?

Yes! It’s okay to not know exactly what you want to do with your life. In fact, most people don’t know. The important thing is that you get your hard-earned ATAR and you’re accepted into uni.

Students often find the right direction is revealed once they’re already in the thick of it. There may be a unit that lights a fire under you, or maybe you discover your true passion while doing work experience. Or maybe there’s a particular lecturer who has an amazing career you could see yourself in, too.

And if you think the degree you’re enrolled in isn’t for you after all, that’s also fine. You are never trapped in what you originally chose. You might choose to sidestep, for example, from engineering technology to engineering. Or you might do a complete 180 and decide psychology isn’t for you and change to conservation instead.

What to do if you’ve decided to change course

So, you’ve begun your study but realised you want to move in a different direction? You can certainly enrol in something else. There are a few things you need to know before doing this.

  • Some majors have restricted entry requirements due to student quotas. For example, law, nursing and vet science.
  • You can’t change your major in your final semester.
  • Research the new course’s structure, available study modes, and major and minor combinations so you know what you’re in for.
  • Some units you’ve already studied could count towards your new course.
  • It might impact your expected course completion date.
  • Withdrawing from one degree and starting something completely new can only be done during two time periods each year. Usually May/June and Oct/Nov but be sure to double check.

Visit our changing your course or major page for more information.


You are never trapped in what you initially choose. Once you have been accepted and start your uni journey, you can then dig deeper into specialisations, and personalise your course to fit your education goals and career goals. University is the perfect time for you to explore your interests and become a free thinker.

Join us at one of our upcoming events to learn more about studying at Murdoch. 

Posted on:

13 Aug 2019

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