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Deciding Students

Each year, about 20 percent of our incoming freshmen and 10 percent of transfer students begin their education at Northwest as a deciding student.

Deciding is an action word. It describes some of the most dynamic opportunities available to students at Northwest. It means that students who are deciding their major are in the process of exploration. They are evaluating the interests, abilities, needs and values they possess and how they fit with a major or career.

As a new student who has not yet made a decision on what major you want to pursue, you will be asked to declare a Meta-Major. A Meta-Major is designed to get you to your goals in the fastest and most efficient way. You must choose from four designed plans.

The four areas represented, and in which you must choose, are: Sciences, Business, Education, and University Studies.  If one of the three first areas listed does not fit your tracking, select the University Studies Meta- Major to allow yourself some more time to explore, decide, and deliberate on a major while you taking general education requirements known as the Northwest Core. The core consists of 48 credit hours that must be completed by all students so you have some time to make a final decision.

Sometimes it is helpful to see what majors fall into the Meta-Majors. This may help you decide which of the four areas most suits you. Below is a list of Northwest Missouri State University majors and where they fall in the Meta-Major groupings.

To further explore some of the majors and departments in each Meta-Major you may want to look through the list of majors and minors.

The staff at the Student Success Center and Career Services want to help any deciding student in the process of choosing a major.

Contact them at:

In the meantime, we encourage you to continue the process of deciding.

The Decision Process

First, don’t be daunted by the fact that you have not yet chosen a major. College is, at its core, a journey of self-exploration and discovery. In most cases, being a deciding student will not keep you in college longer than a student who has declared a major. This is largely because of general education requirements (General Education) known as the Northwest Core. Everyone completes the Northwest Core, regardless of their major, and these can be excellent opportunities to sample a variety of disciplines and ideas. In fact, many upperclassmen will tell you they selected their majors or minors based on positive experiences they had in General ed classes. You might take advantage of some of these courses to get a taste of what a particular major is all about.

Northwest Core is the curricular foundation at Northwest; it encourages students to acquire and use the intellectual tools, knowledge and creative capabilities necessary to study the world as it is, as it is to be understood and as it might be imagined. It also furnishes students with skills that enable them to deepen their understanding and to communicate with others.


Student Success Center

The Student Success Center, located on the second floor of the library, was developed to assist various populations from orientation to graduation, including the deciding student population. Stop by for one-on-one counseling on a major that will fit your personality.

Career Services

The Career Services Office, located in the Administration Building, has a variety of resources to assist in your major decision, including a comprehensive career library, personal career counseling appointments and an Internet-delivered career guidance program. The Career Services staff can then help you identify Northwest majors designed to help you reach your career goal.

Personal Development & Counseling Services

Counselors can give you advice on coping with some of the pressures that come with being a deciding student in a world where the first question a person asks is “What’s your major?”

B.D. Owens Library

The library collection and services support scholarly research and provide current information that promotes student competencies concerning lifelong learning, critical thinking, communication and research. In addition to research assistance, many vital instructional support service areas are also available.

Exploring Majors and Minors

Each fall semester, all the academic departments on campus present an Exploring Majors and Minors fair in which Deciding students can ask questions of students and faculty to explore which major is right for them. A smaller version of Exploring Majors and Minors is offered each spring so that further help and information is readily available in each of your first two semesters.

Visit a listing of majors and minors offered »

Activities and Organizations

One of the most important things you can do during college is to get involved with clubs and organizations that interest you. This way, you can meet other people, find out what they’re studying, how well they like it and what the classwork and extracurricular activities are going to entail. To find out more about the 175 clubs and organizations on campus, you can attend the Student Organizations Fair that takes place early in the term.

Northwest Core (General Education Requirements)

The courses designated as the Northwest Core will help student’s foundational skills that will transfer to their major while integrating the application of knowledge in a variety of disciplines. The immediate practice and acquisition of broad knowledge and appreciation for this is integral to success.  Fundamental appreciation for and knowledge of Northwest Core courses provides support for greater achievement in the university and in our greater universal community.

Northwest Core courses not only support the educational goals of students, but the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (North West Missouri States Accrediting agency) suggests that they provide additional advantages:

  • Understanding and appreciation of diverse cultures
  • Mastering multiple modes of Inquiry
  • Effectively analyzing and communication information
  • Recognizing the importance of creativity and values to the human spirit

Practicum Courses

In addition to clubs and organizations, many departments offer practicum classes that you can take early on during college to see if you will like their programs. For instance, if you’re unsure about journalism or broadcasting, there are practicum classes in which you can work at a radio station for a semester, or gain experience at The Northwest Missourian, the student newspaper.

Northwest Departments and Colleges

College of Arts and SciencesProfessional Schools

Meta-Major Map


University Studies Map