Major Selection at Dartmouth

Hi! I have a few questions on Dartmouth’s major selection/changing process. I’m aware that technically some of these can be answered on their admissions website (which I checked out already), but I wanted to hear from actual student experiences and anecdotes rather than just facts and figures. Here are the questions:

After you’re accepted to Dartmouth with the intended major you picked on your application, does Dartmouth expect you to follow through? For instance, if a student picked “Computer Science,” will Dartmouth funnel that student into an engineering department and expect him/her to take engineering courses and activities, or does Dartmouth really treat everyone the same way no matter what they picked for intended major (at least until they declare)?

Is there a limiting of options in regards to classes, activities, etc. for certain majors, even unintentionally? For instance, many schools I’ve looked into unintentionally limits STEM or Engineering students because their prerequisites are stricter/heavier, so many students with these intended majors tend to feel more restricted in their class choice.

When does Dartmouth expect students to declare their majors by? Can a student be truly “Undeclared” up until the point of declaring their majors?

Other than these questions, if you have any other comments you could share about how students are pressured to take certain majors over others at Dartmouth, and any reason they would change their major: they would be appreciated!
Thanks so much for your help :slight_smile:

No, the major you select on your application will not be something you are required to follow through on.

I majored in Engineering while there, and there were prerequisites which I took Freshman year even though I didn’t officially declare my major until Sophomore year. I think this is fairly common for STEM majors at many schools - you can go on the website and see what the requirements are for a variety of majors you are interested in and track it back to prerequisites to see how many classes will be required for a few different majors to see the difference. I’ve been doing this with my son as he looks at colleges, and some majors at some schools require only 10 classes while others might be 15 plus several prerequisites, so it’s good to understand this as it relates to the majors you think might be of interest and how the schools you are considering structure those majors.

Keep in mind that Dartmouth does not admit by major

The advice i gave my kid was to look at it as going to a banquet and don’t be afraid to try new things.

I remember her taking her distributions requirements and loving her classes, looking at each course as a potential major. She talked about majoring in engineering, English, history, Econ, government before finally graduating as a religion major. It is comparative religion, and a major she really enjoyed including her FSP.

Life after Dartmouth took her on a different path where she now works in cyber security

Hey @andiwhen, Dartmouth sophomore here.

I would add that Dartmouth actually doesn’t allow you to declare your major till the middle of your sophomore year specifically to allow you to explore and figure out what you really want to do.

Furthermore, it’s fairly simple to change your major until senior year, provided you have a plan on how you can get all your credits in. This is the small liberal arts college way (which Dartmouth effectively emulates while still being a great research uni in its own right).

The intro courses for many STEM majors are rough though, like at any school, but unlike most other schools they are all taught by professors who really know their subject. And like all Dartmouth professors, they will help as much as they can, and more if you ask for it. Do go to office hours, you’ll enjoy them tremendously. And the courses after the intro courses are generally considered wonderful.