What Does It Mean to Be an Undeclared Major?

When you start out at UIUC, you want to make sure you’ve found the major that’s just right for you. You may feel a lot of pressure to pick a major immediately, but if you need a little more time and experience before you make your choice, there’s an option for you! Undeclared students have the opportunity to take classes and experiment a little before settling into their final major. And if you’re worried about the time cost, don’t be. Starting as an undeclared student doesn’t have to delay your graduation date. 

If you’re interested in entering UIUC undeclared, it’s important to know the difference between our undeclared programs. Are you interested in coming to the university as an undeclared student under the Division of General Studies (DGS), or would it be better for you to choose an undeclared program within a specific academic community? Which academic communities offer undeclared majors, anyway? Read on, and we’ll figure it out together. 


DGS Undeclared

The official undeclared major. If someone says they’re an undeclared student, this is probably what they’re talking about. You’ve got a lot of freedom to explore as a general undeclared student, and you’ll have access to classes across the university—you might be painting in class one day and studying soil science the next! In the Division of General Studies, you’ll also meet with an academic advisor to make sure you’re on track to meet your academic goals and help you choose a major that will align with your career goals.   

Who Should Consider the Undeclared Major?

  • Students who want to explore a wide range of majors and interests.
  • Students who want to tailor their academic experience to satisfy several different interests.
  • Students who have specific professional goals—like becoming a lawyer or a tech start-up genius or a lion tamer—and aren’t completely sure what to study in order to reach those goals.

When Do You Have to Declare a Major?

Learn more about DGS undeclared!


ACES Undeclared

As an ACES undeclared student, you have the opportunity to explore multiple majors within the College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences. You can mix and match plant biotechnology classes with animal sciences, human nutrition, and more. In ACES undeclared, you’ll work with an advisor to select classes and construct a path to the major that’s the best fit for you.

Who Should Consider ACES Undeclared?

  • Students who know they’re interested in improving the world around them either through the environment or the communities around them, but are having difficulty narrowing down their preferences.
  • Students who have an ACES major in mind but want the opportunity to take classes adjacent to their chosen field before finalizing their decision. (Worth noting: If you want to take several classes in a different area, you also have the option of a minor or a double major!) 

When Do You Have to Declare a Major?

  • The beginning of your third year of study.

Learn more about ACES undeclared!


Art Undeclared

Interested in studio arts like painting and photography? Curious about industrial design? Considering art education? How about all of the above and a little more, too? If you answered yes to that last question, you might benefit from starting as an art undeclared student in the College of Fine and Applied Arts. If you choose this route, you’ll be required to take courses in drawing, 2D, 3D, and 4D (whoa) practices, which is an excellent opportunity to figure out what art style you’ll be happiest pursuing.

Who Should Consider Art Undeclared?

  • Students who are interested in a variety of art and design majors.
  • Students who know they want to study art but don’t feel ready to commit to a major.

When Do You Have to Declare a Major?

  • December 1 of your first year of study. 

Do You Need to Submit a Portfolio?

  • Yes, you’ll need to submit a portfolio to our School of Art & Design at the time of application.

Learn more about art undeclared!


Business Undeclared

What makes business undeclared stand out from some of the other undeclared options is that if you’re applying to UIUC right out of high school, it’s actually your only option in the Gies College of Business! All first-year students who are planning to major in business will be undeclared when they start out at Gies. So no matter if you have a specific major already in mind or are just interested in general business, you have time to explore your options, select a specific major (or two), and graduate on time. You can take coursework in accountancy, finance, marketing, information systems, entrepreneurship, and management to see where your interests and strengths align. As your undeclared period comes to an end, you’ll be able to choose any of the business majors Gies has to offer. 

Who Should Consider Business Undeclared?

  • Any first-year student interested in studying business! Transfer students will need to apply to a specific major.

When Do You Have to Declare a Major?

  • By the end of your second year.

Learn more about business undeclared


Engineering Undeclared

Engineering undeclared is a competitive program that admits a select number of students every year. This program can help undecided engineering students sample different engineering classes and take a little more time picking their final engineering major. It’s important to note, though, that students can’t transfer directly from engineering undeclared to computer science. You can, however, take advantage of the opportunity to get hands-on experience in engineering and work closely with advisors as you choose your major. 

Who Should Consider Engineering Undeclared?

  • First-year students who are looking for a broad experience in engineering before choosing a major. Engineering undeclared is not currently available to transfer students.
  • Students interested in an interdisciplinary field. 
  • Students who genuinely can’t narrow down their interests beyond two engineering majors. If you’ve narrowed your options down to two, we recommend that you list one major as a first choice and the other as your second choice on your application. Or, once you get to campus, you can add the second one as a minor. Some engineering majors are competitive, and there may not always be room to transfer into a specific program from engineering undeclared. 

When Do You Have to Declare a Major?

  • By the end of the second year.

Learn more about engineering undeclared!


Whether you come to UIUC as a general undeclared student or choose an undeclared option within a specific college, you’ll have the opportunity to work with advisors and experience all kinds of classes before deciding on a major. Undeclared majors can be a great opportunity to get some variety in your education and make sure you choose an academic path that you care about!

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