What you should know about competitive majors

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Some majors at Colorado State have additional admissions requirements beyond general admission to CSU. These programs are known as competitive majors.

It may feel stressful to apply to a competitive major, but it doesn’t have to. Taking extra time to research the requirements and plan ahead can push you to the top of the applicant pool.

What exactly is a competitive major?

Competitive majors are undergraduate programs that have specific admissions requirements unique to the program itself. SAT or ACT test scores, GPA, date of application, and past coursework may be used to make an admission decision.

Competitive majors consist of art, biomedical sciences, business administration, computer science, engineering, and journalism and media communication.

So why are some majors more selective than others? There are a few reasons.

Some of our programs, like business administration and journalism and media communication, have limited space for new students each year. Other programs, like engineering, are highly technical and require additional academic preparation. Applicants that demonstrate their preparation with a strong GPA and high test scores are most likely to be successful in these majors.

How can I make sure that I’m a strong applicant?

If you want to be accepted into a competitive major, it’s important to start preparing early.

Research the GPA and ACT/SAT requirements for the major you’re interested in before applying to CSU. You will then be able to determine if you fall into the accepted range or if you should consider a backup major. Requirements for each of our competitive majors are available online.

If you find yourself outside of the accepted range, don’t lose faith. Have a backup major in mind, but still apply to your first pick. If the cohort doesn’t fill up and your test scores and GPA are near the typical profile, you could still be admitted to the program.

As a transfer student, it’s also important to understand the prerequisite requirements for your chosen major. In addition to test scores and GPA requirements, you must complete these courses in order to qualify for the program.

It’s also crucial to apply early. Some of our competitive majors, like biomedical sciences, can fill up before the February 1 freshman regular decision deadline and well before our June 1 transfer regular decision deadline.

What is the admissions process like?

The admissions process will look the same for you as it will for any other prospective student.

Once you submit your application, our admissions team will review it and make an admission decision. If we notice that you have listed a competitive major as your chosen major, your application will also be reviewed for admissibility into your program.

You can expect to be notified about your major at the same time that you receive our admission decision. If we need any further documentation to make a decision about it, we’ll let you know at that time.

If you do not meet the major requirements or the major is full, you will be placed into your second choice major or will be listed as an undeclared student.

What if I don’t get accepted into my major?

It is possible to be accepted to CSU but not accepted into a competitive major. If this happens, don’t stress. There are a few things you can do to keep moving forward.

List a backup major on your application.

If you’re applying to a competitive major, you should also list a secondary major on your admissions application. If you are not placed into your first choice major, we will immediately place you into your backup.

Enter as Undeclared-Exploring and re-apply later.

Current students are allowed to re-apply to competitive majors. If you aren’t admitted into the competitive major, consider spending your first year at CSU as an undeclared student. You can use that time to boost your GPA and then re-apply the next year.

Talk to an advisor about other options.

Our Undeclared Student Advising team works with students in many situations, including those applying for competitive majors. If you’re concerned about your chances in a competitive major or aren’t sure what the next step is, make an appointment. They’ll help you learn more about what options are most realistic for your situation.