What Exactly Is a Pre-Med Major?Best Pre-Med MajorsHow to Choose the Best Pre-Med Major?Admissions Stats for Pre-Med MajorsMedical School Acceptance Rates by MajorMCAT Scores by Undergrad Major GPA by Undergrad MajorPrerequisites for Medical School AdmissionsFAQs: Best Undergrad Majors to Get Into Medical School
Former Admissions Committee Member, Hofstra-Northwell School of Medicine
If you’re unsure what pre-med major to choose, read on to learn about the best pre-med majors, medical school admissions stats by major, and more!
If you’re planning to attend medical school, you’ve probably asked: “Which major should I choose?” Other questions you may have asked could be:
- “Is pre-med a major?”
- “Is there a specific major required for medical school?”
- “What pre-med major is the best”?”
Pre-med is so widely talked about that it can give the false impression that it’s a degree by itself, but it’s not.
Applying to med school with any major can be a pro. You can explore and enjoy other fields while taking medical school course requirements. Still, it can also be a disadvantage since you must determine which pre-med degree is best for you. We’ll discuss pre-med majors, different options, and how to choose which is best for you.
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What Exactly Is a Pre-Med Major?
First of all, it is helpful to know how to get into medical school and what a pre-med major is.
If you want to be a doctor in the United States, you’ll have to go to college and obtain a bachelor’s degree before attending medical school. Being a pre-med means following a college track to meet all the prerequisites for medical school, regardless of your chosen major.
So, you’ll be happy to know that you don’t have to get a degree in biology or any natural or health science; you can major in humanities if that’s your genuine interest. Your major isn't that significant as long as you meet med school prerequisites. However, according to the AAMC, some pre-med majors enjoy a higher acceptance rate than others.
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Best Pre-Med Majors
The required coursework can appear science-loaded and a bit overwhelming. But don’t fall into the trap of believing that the best major for you is one that helps you satisfy all requirements. There are plenty of options besides science, such as:
- Math and statistics
- Physical sciences
- Social sciences
There are several good majors for pre-med students. So, let’s evaluate different fields and what they have to offer.
Due to the strong similarities between this area of study and the medical field, it’s no surprise that most medical school applicants major in biological sciences. This major encompasses biology, biochemistry, and neuroscience, among the most popular disciplines.
Biological sciences majors learn about animals, the human body, the environment, and cells. Undergraduates majoring in these fields learn about the evolving areas of medicine and gain a strong foundation in science. Biological science majors represent 58% of all applicants but have a slightly below average acceptance rate — nearly 42%.
Math and Statistics
Math and statistics majors develop excellent analytical and quantitative skills critical for success as a medical student. Believe it or not, according to data from the AAMC, only 0.6% of applicants are math and statistics majors.
With an acceptance rate of around 46%, four percentage points above the average rate, math and stats majors are excellent options.
Humanities majors are another excellent option. Because only 3.3% of applicants have an academic background in this field, humanities majors enjoy an acceptance rate of 48%, six percentage points above average.
Students majoring in music, writing, world languages, or philosophy are often excellent communicators and critical thinkers. They are likely to develop a strong bond with the human element of medicine.
Chemistry, genetics, and physics are the most common majors in the physical sciences area of study. These pre-med majors don’t have a clear advantage over others. However, they are science-heavy and can prepare you for medical school’s rigorous curriculum.
Applicants majoring in the physical sciences make up 8.83% of all candidates and enjoy a higher-than-average acceptance rate of 47.8%. So, if you’re interested in the physical sciences, this may be the easiest pre-med major for you.
Other areas of study include specialized health sciences and social sciences. Social science majors — in subjects like psychology, history, and sociology — have a 42% acceptance rate. Those who major in the health sciences have a 39% acceptance rate.
Despite its perception as one of the best pre-med degrees, specialized health sciences have one of the lowest acceptance rates.
Dr. McGregor, a former Harvard Medical School admissions committee member, says that “over the last 15 years or so, there has been more emphasis on balance, meaning that premedical students now need to focus on these foundational biological courses and the humanities.”
Now that the MCAT assesses your understanding of physical or biological sciences, critical thinking skills, and psychosocial foundations, having a broad, interdisciplinary academic background is more helpful than ever.
How to Choose the Best Pre-Med Major?
Medical schools don’t exclude any major, which can be advantageous. But selecting what pre-med degree is best for you can be difficult. To choose the best pre-med major, you must ask yourself personal questions and not think exclusively about the coursework you must complete.
Many prospective doctors have a strong interest in the sciences, but you might not be passionate about biology and chemistry. Instead, you might be drawn to philosophy, gender studies, or psychology; and that’s totally fine! They are all good majors for pre-med students.
Being a physician involves much more than merely knowing about the human body. A remarkable doctor must also possess:
- Strong ethics
- A sense of responsibility
- Good interpersonal communication skills
So, maybe studying the humanities might not be a bad idea after all. Remember that most medical school applicants are science majors, which inevitably makes a humanities major stand out.
You should also consider your strengths. This might involve more self-reflection, but being aware of your strengths can impact your decisions and confidence. Taking a look at your high school career can help you with that. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What subject did you earn the highest grade for?
- What was your favorite subject?
- Were those two the same?
- What subject was the least difficult to study for an exam?
If your best class was math, for example, you might consider a major in this field since there’s a high chance your GPA will be in good standing throughout college. On the other hand, let’s say your best subject is biology. However, you’re really interested in literature, and you would like to expand your knowledge in that field.
This is a somewhat complicated situation, but remember that medical school is your ultimate goal. You should think about the best pre-med major to get you there; you might want to consider choosing biology.
That way, you’ll ensure no unexpected obstacles stand in your way. You can always take literature courses to indulge your interests! To recap: the best pre-med majors are ones that:
- You’re passionate about
- You’re interested in
- You’re confident you’ll excel and maintain a strong GPA
The Most Popular Pre-Med Majors (Admissions Stats)
These statistics suggest that there’s no clear advantage to any major over the others. But which is the most popular pre-med major? Take a look at the following grid:
Students with an undergraduate major in the biological sciences make up over half of all medical school applicants and enjoy an acceptance rate of 41.5%. But only 342 math and statistics majors applied out of over 53,000 students, an astonishingly low 0.6%.
Medical School Acceptance Rates by Major
So, what is the best pre-med major? One way to answer this question is to look at medical school acceptance rates by major and determine if certain pre-med majors have a higher chance of getting accepted. Knowing medical school acceptance rates can also help you gauge your competitiveness for admission.
Medical school acceptance rates by major are as follows:
- Biological Sciences - 41.5%
- Humanities - 47.9%
- Math and Statistics - 45.6%
- Other - 39.8%
- Physical Sciences - 47.9%
- Social Sciences - 41.4%
- Specialized Health Sciences - 38.9%
According to these figures, three study areas receive higher admissions rates than other pre-med majors. These are the only three groups who are admitted to medical school at a rate greater than 45%.
- Math and Statistics
- Physical Science
Does this mean these three are good majors for pre-med students or even the best pre-med degrees? While humanities and math majors may enjoy higher acceptance rates than biological sciences majors, the number of applicants in these fields is much lower than in all others.
This might explain why more students are accepted out of the total number of applicants with a humanities or math major. Of course, admissions committees consider several factors in the decision process.
MCAT Scores by Undergrad Major
Your MCAT scores can make or break your medical school application. They serve as an indicator of your readiness for the rigor of medical school. The table below outlines the average MCAT score of medical school applicants and matriculants by undergraduate major:
Interestingly, students who pursue math and statistics, humanities, and physical sciences as pre-med majors tend to achieve higher scores on the MCAT than those who take other majors. While there are exceptions, these three majors are definitely good majors for pre-med students.
GPA by Undergrad Major
Your GPA is integral to your success; the chances of being admitted to the top medical schools decrease with a lower GPA. Your GPA is split into two categories: your non-science GPA and BCPM GPA.
Your BCPM GPA is your GPA for your biology, chemistry, physics, and math (BCPM) classes. Whether you’re a business or biology major, your performance in your BCPM classes is important.
Christina Grabowski, the Associate Dean for Admissions and Enrollment at the Heersink School of Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, says, “We are going to look at how you did in science coursework specifically.”
In your AMCAS application, all courses that you classify as “Biology,” “Chemistry,” “Physics,” and “Math” will count toward your BCPM GPA. Some examples of courses that fall under these headings include:
- Cell Biology
Brown University notes that “Application services will often include neuroscience courses under biology, but they do not include courses in psychology, cognitive science, geology, or computer science (engineering is usually a separate classification).”
Ensure you know which classes contribute to your BCPM GPA. If you’re struggling to find which classes fall under which category, the AAMC provides an AMCAS course classification guide.
Let’s look at the average non-science and BCPM GPA of medical school matriculants:
Medical schools often set a BCPM GPA requirement, so ensure you do your research. For example, the Heersink School of Medicine requires out-of-state applicants to achieve a BCPM GPA of 3.3 and in-state applicants to achieve a 3.0 BCPM GPA.
Prerequisites for Medical School Admissions
There are no easy pre-med majors, as you will have to complete rigorous classes.
In general, candidates for medical school need to complete the following coursework to apply:
- Organic chemistry: two semesters with lab
- Inorganic chemistry: two semesters with lab
- Biology: two semesters with lab
- Physics: two semesters with lab
- English: two semesters
- Math: two semesters
- Biochemistry: one semester
While these are the most common prerequisites, your required coursework might vary slightly from school to school. It’s essential to check the requirements for every medical school you’re applying to early on in college. That way, you’ll be on the right track to completing all courses from the start.
Apart from required coursework, students aiming to apply to medical school need a strong GPA and good MCAT scores. Data suggests that the higher both scores are, the more likely you will be to get accepted. However, it’s possible to make it to medical school with one stronger score than the other.
FAQs: Best Undergrad Majors to Get Into Medical School
Deciding what the best majors for med school are is difficult, so we’ve put together several questions and answers to help you decide what pre-med degree is best.
Should I Choose a Major Based on Med School Prerequisites?
The answer to this question isn’t black and white. While choosing a biology major might seem the easiest way to satisfy your prerequisites, it’s only a short-term solution. A broad academic background and a strong understanding of several fields can give you an advantage in the long term.
If biology truly interests you and happens to help you meet most of the medical school requirements, then go for it. However, if you’re only doing it because it’s convenient, consider your options. Also, remember that every medical school is different, and a biology major will not always be the “easiest” way to satisfy all the prerequisites.
What Is the Most Common Pre-Med Major for Medical School?
The most common pre-med major is biology, followed by psychology.
However, the acceptance rate for these majors is slightly below-average.
Do the Best Majors for Med School Have Higher Acceptance Rates?
Despite the slight differences in acceptance rates between humanities and biological sciences (around 48% and 42%, respectively), the data indicates no clear advantage.
This is because there’s a significant difference in the number of applicants, too (3.28% for humanities and 58% for biological sciences out of all applicants).
What Pre-Med Majors Do Medical Schools Prefer?
Medical schools don’t care what your undergraduate major is as long as you meet all the requirements; you must complete all the required coursework, and possess a strong GPA and MCAT score.
What’s the Easiest Pre-Med Major for Medical School?
Unfortunately, there is no universal “easiest” pre-med major. We recommend choosing a major you’re passionate about and are confident you can maintain a high GPA with.
What Is the Best Major for a Pre-Med Student?
The best pre-med major is one that you love. As long as you fulfill medical school admissions requirements, the best pre-med major is subjective to each individual.
The Best Pre-Med Major for Med School? The One That Works Best for You
Choosing an undergraduate major as a pre-med student is an important decision. However, not everyone knows they have options besides traditional biology or biochemistry majors.
There’s the belief that these are the most accepted majors in medical school and are the ones that will best prepare you for it. However, that’s far from reality. Acceptance rates among the different study areas vary only slightly, meaning there’s no field with a clear advantage.
So, the question, “What is the best pre major for medical school?” doesn’t have an answer. The key is to apply to medical school with all the prerequisites satisfied, a strong GPA, and a good MCAT score.
Which major is best for pre-med? ›
Biology or chemistry would be a great choice. You'll also want to ensure that you regularly communicate with your pre-med advisor about your course load. Your advisor will help you stay on track with medical school requirements and make sure you properly plan which courses to take before you sit for the MCAT.What are good stats for med school? ›
In 2021, the average MCAT for students accepted to allopathic medical schools in the United States in 2021-2022 was 511.9 For reference purposes, know that the highest possible MCAT score is a 528 with with a 132 on each of the four sections.What pre-med major has the highest acceptance rate? ›
According to this data, there are three major groups—humanities, math and statistics, and physical sciences—that enjoy higher admissions rates than others. In fact, these are the only three groups (aside from biological sciences) that get into medical school at a rate greater than 40 percent.Is Stats important for pre-med? ›
Q: I am premed; do I need to take math or more specifically statistics? A: Over 50 medical schools require one or two semesters of mathematics (college math, calculus, and/or statistics). At many of these schools, any two math courses (including many statistics courses) would meet this requirement.What is an easy major for pre-med? ›
If you're looking for the most straightforward path, biological sciences, including majors like molecular biology, cell biology, and neuroscience, feature several courses that overlap with your medical school prerequisites. That's why nearly 60% of all applicants choose this major.What is the hardest pre-med major? ›
It shouldn't surprise you that organic chemistry takes the No. 1 spot as the hardest college course. This course is often referred to as the “pre-med killer” because it actually has caused many pre-med majors to switch their major.
The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) reported an average GPA for medical school of 3.60 across all applicants for the 2021-2022 application cycle. For the same year, applicants had an average science GPA of 3.49 and an average non-science GPA of 3.74.Is a 3.8 GPA OK for med school? ›
Admissions experts advise aspiring medical school students to aim for a GPA of 3.5 or higher. Dec. 3, 2021, at 9:00 a.m.Is a 3.4 GPA good enough for med school? ›
While you can still get into medical school with a low GPA, it's a lot more difficult, and all other areas of your application need to really stand out. If your GPA falls between 3.4-3.6, you can still get accepted, but in these cases, a good MCAT score can improve your chances of acceptance.What should I double major in for pre-med? ›
A double major in say, biochemistry/genetics, or chemistry/engineering, or biology/physics, will set you up for a life of devotion to your books.
What GPA do you need for pre-med? ›
What is a Good GPA for Med School? It is extremely difficult to get into medical school with a cumulative GPA of less than 3.0. Here's how med school applicants compare to enrolled students (i.e. matriculants).Does AP Calculus count medical school? ›
The combination of Calculus I and Statistics will fulfill nearly all math/statistics requirements for medical schools. 5. AP CREDIT PSYCHOLOGY: Psychology is needed for the MCAT and many medical schools recommend courses in psychology or the social sciences. AP credit is usually acceptable.Should I take AP stats or AP Calc for pre-med? ›
If you are going to be a humanities major or a business major, then take AP Stats. Stats is important for all business majors, and even for psychology or political science and Pre-Med as well. Alternatively, you can take AP Calculus or a dual-enrollment Calc or online college calc.Is statistics harder than calculus? ›
At an advanced level, statistics is considered harder than calculus, but beginner-level statistics is much easier than beginner calculus. Frankly, it mostly depends upon the student's interest as some students find it hard to comprehend statistics while others find it hard to understand calculus.What major prepares you for MCAT? ›
According to some students, pursuing a science-focused major provides them the foundation they need to do well on the MCAT. For instance, students who major in economics might not be as well-prepared for med school as those who major in biology.What is the easiest Doctor major? ›
- Family Medicine. Average Step 1 Score: 215.5. ...
- Psychiatry. Average Step 1 Score: 222.8. ...
- Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Average Step 1 Score: 224.2. ...
- Pediatrics. Average Step 1 Score: 225.4. ...
- Pathology. Average Step 1 Score: 225.6. ...
- Internal Medicine (Categorical)
Psychology majors are even preferred by many medical schools, as they have a unique skill set. There's a lot more to medicine than science; a Psychology major can help give you that edge.What is the #1 hardest major? ›
According to the average Grade Point Average of students in the program, Chemistry wins the prize title hardest major. A Chemistry major overlaps somewhat with biology, but chemistry extends beyond living things.
There's this common misconception that as a premed student you have to be perfect. People think your dreams of becoming a physician are all over if you get a C+. But a C+ is not a red flag. I see a lot of students applying to medical school and they have some horrible grades on their transcripts.What are the top 5 hardest majors? ›
- Chemistry. At number one on the list is chemistry.
- Architecture. ...
- Chemical Engineering. ...
- Computer Science. ...
- Aerospace Engineering. ...
- Biomedical Engineering. ...
- Materials Engineering. ...
- Petroleum Engineering. ...
How many C's are acceptable for med school? ›
Medical schools do not accept a grade of C- or below in required courses. If you do retake a class both grades will appear on your transcript. Medical schools recommend that instead of repeating a course you take upper division science courses in the same area to increase your knowledge and boost your GPA.What is the lowest GPA for med school? ›
Most medical schools set a cap at a 3.0 GPA. Generally, a low GPA is less than a school's 75th or 80th percentile. You can also review your chosen school's average GPA for accepted students.How many B's can I get for med school? ›
I would say to have a competitive chance at most medical schools you probably want to have a GPA above 3.5 So a B or two per semester is probably OK but do you want to make sure you get mostly A's or A- in your science and math courses.Is 517 a bad MCAT score? ›
To get an excellent MCAT score means to score in the overall 90th percentile or higher, which currently means a score of 515 or greater. With an MCAT score of 515 or above, you have a significantly better chance of getting accepted. Anything above the score of 517 is considered outstanding.What is the average GPA of a doctor? ›
Data from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) reports that the average GPA for medical school applicants and matriculants during the 2022–23 school year was 3.62.Will a 3.0 GPA get me into med school? ›
What is considered a low GPA for medical school? Many medical schools have a cut-off for GPAs below 3.0. The average GPA at most MD medical schools ranges from about 3.7 to 3.9. The average GPA at most DO medical schools ranges from about 3.4 to 3.6.Can MCAT make up for low GPA? ›
Myth 2: A high MCAT score will make up for my low GPA, or vice versa. Fact: This myth is true at a certain level but only in extreme cases. For example, a student who has a 3.4 GPA (which would be considered a low GPA by premed standards) but a 519 MCAT has a decent chance of getting into an allopathic medical school.What GPA is required for Harvard? ›
You should also have a 4.18 GPA or higher. If your GPA is lower than this, you need to compensate with a higher SAT/ACT score. For a school as selective as Harvard, you'll also need to impress them with the rest of your application.Can I get into med school with a 2.7 GPA? ›
Yes, you can get into medical school with less than a 3.0 college GPA. Just make sure you do well on your MCAT and provide a stellar application.How do I raise my GPA for pre med? ›
Boost your GPA with post-baccalaureate coursework
This is a popular route, especially for applicants who did well on the MCAT but need some help with their GPA. Retaking science classes can show you've mastered the material, but a better strategy is to take advanced classes and do well.
Can I pass fail for premed? ›
Can I take courses pass/fail? Yes, but do not take any of the premed prerequisites pass/fail. Medical schools want to see that you have challenged yourself academically, so don't overuse the pass/fail option.Is a B+ bad for premed? ›
Many students would be happy with a B-, B or B+. But when premeds see that daunting combination of letters and symbols, they panic and start thinking about the rest of their lives. It is somewhat understandable since even a B+ average is very low for someone who wants to get into medical school.Should I do a BA or BS for pre-med? ›
What degree do you need to get into medical school? Every U.S. medical school requires the completion of a four-year degree from an accredited college or university. It doesn't matter whether your degree is a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Science (B.S.).Do I need calculus 2 for pre-med? ›
No health professions schools require multivariable calculus. A small number require two semesters of calculus but they will allow you to substitute college courses with advanced placement credit or credit from other college-level exams taken in high school.How hard is premed? ›
So, how hard is it to get into medical school? According to the AAMC, over 55,000 applicants applied during the 2022-2023 application cycle and only 22,000 matriculated. That's an acceptance rate of only 40%, which is an increase from the previous cycle but still less than favorable odds.Will one B ruin a 4.0 GPA high school? ›
The short answer is (surprisingly): No. If you have one “F” and all other grades in a 40-course program are “A” grades, your GPA will drop from a 4.0 to a 3.9. So, your existing GPA will be impacted, but will not be “ruined.”Can I be a doctor if I'm bad at chemistry? ›
You can be bad at chem/physics and become a doc. If you put the time and do enough practice problems you will eventually "get it." You don't need straight A's.What AP classes should I take to become a doctor? ›
Make sure you take all three sciences: Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. It doesn't necessarily matter which of the three sciences you choose to take as an AP course, but you must take all three.Do I need AP Biology for pre-med? ›
Most medical schools require students to take two semesters of biology (with lab) in college. AP credit cannot be used to substitute for this requirement. However, students with AP credit may usually take more advanced biology electives (with lab) instead of introductory biology.Do you need AP Physics for pre-med? ›
Students who pursue a pre-med track in college will need to study biology, chemistry, and physics at intermediate and advanced levels.
What majors is AP Stats good for? ›
Students eyeing majors like agricultural science, business, math, and engineering can especially benefit from taking AP Statistics.Is AP stat or Calc harder? ›
The content covered in AP Statistics is generally considered easier and more manageable than that of the two AP Calculus exams. Many students have learned some statistical concepts in previous math classes, and they often find the concepts easier to understand than other math subjects such as calculus or geometry.Is AP Stats harder than regular stats? ›
All AP® classes are a step above regular classes in difficulty, and AP® Statistics is no exception. But before we dive into the specifics of AP® Stats difficulty, the first thing we will cover in our AP® Stats review is whether it's a good idea for you to take the AP® Stats Exam in the first place.What level of math is statistics? ›
Statistics is a branch of applied mathematics that involves the collection, description, analysis, and inference of conclusions from quantitative data. The mathematical theories behind statistics rely heavily on differential and integral calculus, linear algebra, and probability theory.Is statistics harder than algebra? ›
Is statistics harder than algebra? Both statistics and algebra introduce abstract concepts, but the main difference in these classes is that the concepts introduced in statistics are harder to grasp at first than in algebra because they are less concrete and harder to visualize.Is statistics an easy major? ›
Not a lot of listings of the most difficult majors include statistics, which means that it's neither the hardest nor the easiest. However, a lot of majors known to be challenging require undergraduate students to know statistics. Some of them include engineering, computer science, physics and mathematics.What major scores highest on MCAT? ›
Interestingly, the highest average MCAT for medical school applicants is earned by math and statistics majors (510.9). However, this group also has the smaller number of applicants (381 applicants last year). Compare this to more than 31,000 biological science majors.Is pre-med a hard major? ›
The pre-med requirements are extensive, difficult, and mainly hardcore science-based. To be honest, you won't have much time for other courses outside of your general education requirements, major courses, and minor courses.What score is a 70% on the MCAT? ›
Approximately 70% of test takers are expected to score between 493 and 507.What score is an 80% on the MCAT? ›
Our medical school admission experts recommend that you aim for a total score of a 509 or above. This score places you in the 80 th percentile of MCAT scores, according to AAMC.
How rare is a 528 on the MCAT? ›
A 528 MCAT score corresponds to the 99.9th percentile of all test takers, along with scores of 524 and above.What GPA should pre-med have? ›
Admissions statistics from U.S. medical schools show that they tend to have high academic standards. All of the 121 ranked schools in the U.S. News 2022 Best Medical Schools rankings reported the median GPA among their entering students in fall 2020 as 3.46 or higher on a 4.0 grading scale.Is biology a bad pre-med major? ›
In sum, there is no general “best major” for pre-med students. Studying biology does not appear to translate into the highest across-the-board MCAT score, nor do admissions committees desire to fill their incoming classes purely with biology majors. That being said, biology will certainly be the best major for some.Should I retake a C premed? ›
If you received a C or higher in a course, there is no need to retake it. It is far more impressive for a student to take new upper-division biological science courses and excel in them rather than to repeat lower-division coursework.Do med schools like psychology majors? ›
National statistics show that students who major in psychology are as likely to be admitted to medical school as those who major in biology or chemistry. Psychology is particularly valuable for those premedical students interested in neurology, psychiatry, pediatrics, or behavioral medicine.Is psychology a good pre-med major? ›
Psychology majors are even preferred by many medical schools, as they have a unique skill set. There's a lot more to medicine than science; a Psychology major can help give you that edge.Can you get into med school without premed? ›
College students believe they have to major in pre-medicine or a science to get into medical school and that is FALSE! You don't get extra points for choosing a STEM major. We have doctors that majored in journalism, engineering, business and French. Choose an undergraduate major based on your passions.