Undergraduate studies

Major help: New event lets Hopkins students explore their academic options

JHU's first-ever Major Fair will give undergrads a chance to talk to faculty and student representatives from prospective majors and minors

The Student Government Association at Johns Hopkins University (SGA) will host its first-ever "Major Fair" on Friday, Feb. 16, in the Glass Pavilion, allowing undergraduate students to speak with representatives from different courses of study. The fair will feature booths from 35 academic departments representing 42 majors and/or minors. This includes many of the university's most popular options, such as Public Health Studies, Economics, and Neuroscience, as well as recently added majors, like Moral and Political Economy.

Fair booths will be staffed by a mix of faculty and student representatives. Attendees are encouraged to take the event at their own speed, wandering the aisles or making a beeline for the departments that intrigue them most. Students can also step into the Great Hall, which is connected to the Glass Pavillion, to speak with representatives from the Global Education Office, SMILE, First Year Experience, the Life Design Lab, or SGA.

A map of the 2024 JHU Major Fair.

Image credit: Tim Huang

The idea for a major fair was originally pitched by sophomore and SGA senator Tim Huang. As a member of the student government's Committee on Academic Affairs, he felt a responsibility to help his classmates fully explore and understand the university's many majors.

"When I entered Hopkins, I was not really sure what majors I wanted to do. I knew that I wanted it to be related to STEM, but I wasn't sure what that meant," Huang explained. "I talked to a bunch of my friends last year, and I realized that a lot of them had those same types of questions."

Headshot of Tim Huang

Image caption: Tim Huang

Though Huang eventually settled on Public Health Studies, he realized that more could be done to help students understand their academic options. First-year students are traditionally taught about different majors during Orientation, right after they arrive on campus. Though they are encouraged to talk to academic advisors and professors throughout the year, the next large-scale chance for new students to learn about different departments didn't come until the university's "Welcome to the Major" events in April, which take place after first-year students have already declared what they plan to study.

After getting elected to SGA, Huang approached Tiffany Mfume, associate vice provost for student success and retention initiatives, and Brittini Brown, associate vice provost for student engagement and dean of students, to share his concerns and ideas. Upon hearing Huang's pitch for the Major Fair, Mfume and Brown realized that this was an opportunity to improve the first-year experience at Hopkins.

"We're bombarding freshmen with information [at the beginning of the year], and then down the road, it's hard to remember what someone said to you," Mfume said. "And there are certain students who might not ever learn about what kinds of choices they have."

A small, puzzled cartoon bird hold lots of books
Want to attend the Major Fair?

Drop by the Glass Pavillion on Feb. 16 to explore 35 different academic disciplines.

That's where the Major Fair comes in.

"Having a major fair at this part of the year really gives [first-year students] an opportunity to take a fresh look at the majors that are available at Hopkins with some experience under their belt before they're too far down the road," Brown said. "This is the brainchild of our SGA, which we are super, super proud of, and really was shaped out of their experience of coming to the institution."

With the support of the administration, Huang immediately began organizing the Major Fair. Now, with the big day coming up quickly, he's already thinking of ways to grow the event for 2025.

"I don't want the JHU Major Fair to just be a one-year thing," Huang said. "I want it to be a Hopkins tradition."