In the United States and Canada, an academic major or major concentration (informally, major or concentration) is the academic discipline to which an undergraduate student formally commits. A student who successfully completes the courses prescribed in an academic major qualifies for an undergraduate degree.
Abbott Lawrence Lowell introduced the academic major system to Harvard University in 1910, during his presidency there. It required students to complete courses not only in a specialized discipline, but also in other subjects. Variations of this system are now definitive among tertiary education institutions in the United States and Canada.
Today, an academic major typically consists of a core curriculum, prescribed courses, a liberal arts curriculum, and several elective courses. The amount of latitude a student has in choosing courses varies from program to program. Typically, the courses of an academic major are portioned in several academic terms.
A major is administered by select faculty in an academic department. A major administered by more than one academic department is called an interdisciplinary major. In addition, some students earn individually designed majors.
Whereas some students choose a major when first enrolling as an undergraduate at a school, others choose one after beginning their studies. Some schools forbid students from declaring a major until the end of their second academic year.
A student who declares two academic majors is said to have a double major. A coordinate major is an ancillary major designed to complement the primary one. A coordinate major requires fewer course credits to complete. (Compare with academic minor and joint honours.)
Choosing a Major 
Most students begin college with an idea of what they want to accomplish while there, and they choose their majors based on that. Students can also decide their major later if they are undecided. Colleges and universities provide course curricular to current and prospective students for most degree plans and so students should look at these to get a good understanding of what will be expected of them academically before they make a decision.
Some majors are more difficult than others, and some will not prepare you for the field you want to work in. These things should be considered before wasting time and money on a degree that you will not complete. Although if you do decide you have chosen the wrong major, you can always switch to a different plan (See Changing Majors).
When choosing a major, students should think about what excites and interests them, and also what kinds of jobs are available with that degree. They should also think about how or if a degree will benefit them in the future.
Most Valuable Majors 
Some more important aspects to consider when choosing a major is the salary and demand for people with a degree in that major. Forbes has compiled a list of the most valuable majors using a study done by the compensation research form Payscale. According to the study, the value of a major was established by "median starting pay, median mid-career pay (at least 10 years in), growth in salary and wealth of job opportunities." The 15 most valuable majors are:
- Biomedical Engineering
- Computer Science
- Software Engineering
- Environmental Engineering
- Civil Engineering
- Management Information Systems
- Petroleum Engineering
- Applied Mathematics
- Construction Management
Least Valuable Majors 
Forbes has also made a list of the least valuable college majors also, using information from Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce. According to Forbes the value of a major was established by "high initial unemployment rates and low initial median earnings of full-time, full-year workers." The 10 least valuable majors are:
- Anthropology and Archeology
- Film, Video and Photographic Art
- Fine Arts
- Philosophy and Religious Studies
- Liberal Arts
- Physical Fitness and Parks Recreation
- Commercial Art and Graphic Design
- English Language and Literature
Changing Majors 
If a student begins a degree plan at a college or university and then feels that they are not on the right track or that they simply do not like the field they are in, changing majors is a good option.
The first thing that students need to do is assess the reasons that they no longer want their current major, and this should lead them into the next step which is to decide what they want to major in instead. Students should research their new major and make sure they are making the right decision, and also check on the course curricular for the new program to see what requirements they may already have fulfilled.
Most students also will be concerned about extending their time at college because they change their major, and so they should also find out how long it will take to complete the new major and decide whether or not they are willing to spend the extra time in it. This will vary from student to student, but if you are still in your first two years of college then your adviser will help you with a plan so that you can graduate on time.
This leads into the most important step in changing majors: meet with an adviser from the academic college your new major is in so they can help you better understand your undertaking.
Most Popular Majors 
According to CampusGrotto,  the 10 most popular college majors are:
- Social Sciences and History
- Computer Science
- McGrath, Charles (8 January 2006). "What Every Student Should Know". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved 23 September 2011.
- "Academic Majors". Retrieved 10 December 2012.
- "The 15 Most Valuable College Majors". Retrieved 13 April 2013.
- "The 10 Worst College Majors". Retrieved 13 April 2013.
- "Most Popular College Majors". Retrieved 13 April 2013.
See also 
- Minor (academic)
- British undergraduate degree classification
- Course catalog
- Double degree
- Higher education