Open Option

As a college student, you will probably be asked one question more than any other: “What’s your major?” 

There are a lot of reasons that you might not yet know the answer! Perhaps you haven’t had the chance to explore the many areas of study available to you. There are more than 40 majors in the College of Arts & Sciences alone, and more than 80 undergraduate majors across campus. Or maybe you have such broad interests that you don’t yet want to concentrate on just one. Maybe you’re trying to gain admission to one of the competitive programs on campus, like Business or Engineering. Whatever your reason, if you have yet to declare your major, you’ll find yourself in good company at CU Boulder: one-half of all Arts & Sciences students enter as Open Option, making it one of the college’s most popular “majors.”

Where To Begin?

Open Option is the exploration major.

Your first-year advisor is here to help you explore your options. We encourage you to meet with your advisor at least once each semester to develop ideas about creating a well-rounded academic experience.  Your advisor can help you combine and focus your interests and help you find opportunities around campus. If you are interested in a more targeted exploration experience, you should consider taking the ARSC1810 Seminar: Academic Exploration & Criticial Decision Making.  Each section of this 1 credit-hour Pass/Fail course, which includes a variety of exploration activities, is taught by a first-year advisor.  Ask your advisor if you're interested in registering.

Competitive Admission Programs

If you are interested in applying for admission to any of the colleges or schools listed below, you will find that each of these on the Boulder campus has a different specific set of prerequisites that must be completed before you can apply. Research the requirements that affect you. Your advisor can help you strategically combine both the prerequisite courses and your remaining degree requirements.

Exploration Tips

In addition to having on-going conversations with your first-year advisor, this Major and Career Exploration Model provides you with the resources to work at your own pace and in your own way by providing steps, suggestions and activities. Work with your first-year advisor or a career counselor to discuss your progress.

First, take a look at the four steps to deciding on a major and/or corresponding career and think about which exploration activities will work best for you.

As you work through the four steps take advantage of the supplementary tools below that help you articulate your "pros" and "cons" with any given major and career:

You have plenty of time to explore your interests throughout your first year of college.

As an Open Option major, your advisor will want to make sure you're making progress toward a decision about which major to declare by the time you earn 45 credit-hours (mid-way through your sophomore year). Once you have earned 30 credit-hours, you will be required to touch base with your first-year advisor about your progress. It may feel overwhelming now, but the first step is to start working your way through the Exploration Checklist and to stay in contact with your academic advisor along the way.

Can I Still Graduate in Four Years?

No matter which major you choose in Arts & Sciences, you are required to take general education courses called the Core. As an Open Option student you will be exploring your interests through both the Core curriculum and required elective courses, so you’ll be making progress toward your degree before you even select your major. As long as you choose a major in Arts & Sciences, careful planning will allow you to graduate in four years. If you apply to another college or school on campus, you may not be able to complete all pre-requisites, apply, be admitted, and then complete their degree program within four years. Talk with your first-year advisor about your goals and, when it comes to registering for classes, you will track your remaining degree requirements and select courses that meet those requirements by reading your degree audit (use the "check your degree audit" link to the left on most pages of this site) and selecting the options that sound most interesting.

Open Option FAQs

What core requirements do I still need to meet?

You can check your progress on your core requirements by using DARS, the Degree Audit Reporting System. DARS evaluates how each of your courses fits into your degree, gives you links to course descriptions in areas you still need to complete and let's you view "what if" audits to explore how your coursework would fit into a major. Use the "Check Your Degree Audit" button on the left side of all the pages in this web site to enter DARS.

How do I find out what courses are still open?

You can log into MyCUInfo and search for classes and even put classes in your shopping cart, even if you're not yet eligible to register (no guarantee those classes will still be open when you try to move them from your shopping cart and onto your schedule, however). Make sure you click "Show Open Classes Only" on the search page and then utilize the Additional Search Criteria if you want to search by Core area.

I'm interested in Study Abroad. Where do I start?

Visit the Study Abroad web site for initial information, contacts, location and more!

All of my classes are really large. How can I make a connection so I don't just feel like a number?

You can try a couple of things: sit in the same general spot each time (toward the front) - you'll find that you're sitting with the same group of people and can ask about forming a study group. You should also take advantage of your professors' office hours. Start by choosing your favorite professor and bringing a question or topic of discussion you have from the course. If it's a department you're especially interested in exploring, ask your professor how to get involved in the department.