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The 3 Schools at SCU: Choosing Your Academic Path

What do you want to be when you grow up? You may remember this question from childhood, but the age-old axiom often resurfaces when you begin your college search process as well. While the question may seem unanswerable now, we’re here to help you examine your interests and pick a path that’s right for you!

You probably remember being asked “what do you want to be when you grow up?” as a child. Many of us promptly responded with “I want to be an astronaut” or “I’m going to be Lebron James” or, if you were like me, you might have said “I want to be on the Red Carpet, Broadway, and a Prima Ballerina.” Clearly, I had some big dreams. As senior year approaches, you are likely receiving this same question again, but this time, you are expected to come up with a real answer that could lead to real outcomes. It can feel daunting to have to make this decision when you may not actually know what you want to do yet. It can often feel like taking a step in the dark. The precursor to this question about your future career is often “what subject do you plan to study?” Instead of focusing on the narrow, it may help to first think more broadly about the areas of study offered at Santa Clara. 

Applying to an SCU School

When applying to Santa Clara University, all you really need to choose is one of three academic schools: the College of Arts and Sciences, the Leavey School of Business, or the School of Engineering. While you are able to apply as an undecided major within any of the three schools, it is required to select one school when you apply. Your application is then considered within the context of that school. If you are admitted to Santa Clara, you actually receive acceptance into the specific school rather than simply the university as a whole. It may sound like a big decision, but we’re here to help you find the right path for your future!


College of Arts and Sciences 

As our largest school, the College of Arts and Sciences represents nearly 60% of our student body. You can view a list of majors and minors in the College of Arts and Sciences to get a feel for some of your options. Broadly, it encompasses the natural sciences, fine arts, humanities, and social sciences. As a student in this school, you’re able to switch majors within the college or add additional majors and minors as well. There are lots of possibilities! For example, a friend of mine studied communication and theatre at SCU and now works for a large tech company in a marketing role. Another friend took a more traditional path as a biology major on the pre-health track and is now a Doctor of Orthopedics.

APPLICATION TIP: Even if you aren’t sure what you want to do, lean into the academic subjects you enjoy and show us that you have performed well in rigorous coursework. If you truly have no idea what you want to do when you apply, the College of Arts and Sciences is your best choice because there are so many options available. 


Leavey School of Business

One of the more specific options for SCU students is the Leavey School of Business. As our second largest school, it represents about 25% of the student body. Do you have an interest in becoming an entrepreneur, accountant, or digital marketer, among other possibilities? Business might be the school for you! The School of Business offers a much more limited selection of majors and minors. The purpose of this school is to “develop entrepreneurial leaders of competence, conscience, and compassion dedicated to the triple bottom line of people, profit, and planet.” Through Leavey, you will find opportunities for internships and jobs in Silicon Valley and beyond. Many professors are well-connected to companies in the local area and help students build professional networks early on in their college experience.

APPLICATION TIP: Admission to this school is competitive. Our most competitive candidates will have completed an honors or AP level calculus course in high school. We also love to see any side projects or experiences related to your interest in business.


The School of Engineering

As our smallest and potentially most competitive school, the School of Engineering represents the remaining approximately 15% of undergraduate students. At SCU, students pursue engineering with a mission to innovate and make the world a better place. Students have the opportunity to pursue a variety of majors and minors, spanning many fields of engineering. Research also plays a significant role in a student’s academic experience, as all students are required to complete a senior research project, often working with local companies and non-profit organizations to create products and technology that will be used in the real world. Top employers of students in the School of Engineering include Cisco, Apple, and Google. If you enjoy problem solving and technological innovation, engineering might be the right path for you!

APPLICATION TIP: Emphasis is placed on advanced math and science coursework, specifically calculus and physics. While not requirements, we do like to see these courses on a student’s transcript. We also love to see any activities related to your interest in this field (i.e. robotics, STEM club, etc.).


Advice For Selecting a School

Now that you know a little more about each school, how will you choose the right path for you? Again, remember that you must only select a school on the application but are welcome to indicate a major as well. As you weigh your options, consider asking yourself these questions:

  1. What did I want to be when I grew up? 
  2. How have I changed, grown, and learned since that decision?
  3. What subjects do I enjoy now? 
  4. What am I good at?
  5. In what areas do my friends and family think I excel?
  6. What kind of career could I see myself pursuing? 


Hopefully, these questions help you focus on a particular interest and talent you possess. Even if you think you have it all figured out, remember that most students will end up changing their major in college, often many times. Typically, students don't feel confident about their choice of major until after they begin college, and many are still undecided by the end of their second year. No matter which school and major you ultimately choose, an SCU education will set you up for success.

College of Arts and Sciences,Leavey School of Business,School of Engineering,Application Process,Application Tips,
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