Exploratory Program

Exploratory Program

Center for Advising, Career and Life Design

Being an exploratory student simply means that you are not ready to declare a major. This is another term for being undecided or undeclared. At Salve Regina, we embrace the idea that many students need time to make a meaningful decision about their major. The exploratory program may be a great fit if you find yourself considering the following:

  • I have so many interests and I don't know how to narrow them down. How do I decide?
  • I have no idea what major would interest me.
  • I don't know my passions or skills yet.
  • I have no idea how to figure out which major is the right fit for me.
  • I do not feel ready to make this decision. I wish I could try out a major first or learn more about it before deciding.
  • I started in one major, but I realized it isn't a good fit for me. What are my options?
  • I started in a program that I no longer can continue. Where do I go from here?
  • I am leaning toward a certain major, but I am not ready to commit.

You are not alone – the exploratory program is one of the largest student programs at Salve Regina. Students can also be exploratory and pre-health or pre-law – this is a common occurrence. Students in the exploratory program work with a Compass advisor to design their experience around their interests and goals.

Students can declare a major at any point before the deadline. They then transition out of the exploratory program and into the department specific to the major(s).

All exploratory students take GST092: Introduction to Exploratory Studies in their first semester. The course provides an in-depth look at majors and an introduction to career pathways. It introduces students to resources they can utilize in their search for a major and helps them learn about new majors and/or narrow down their interests further. Students meet with faculty from programs that interest them most and complete an informational interview. This course is taught by a Compass advisor.

Being an exploratory student gives you the freedom to try out different academic programs and explore your interests, and it puts you on a path of discovery. Through exploratory advising, you partake in activities, events and courses that test out your interests, enhance your skills, and learn about career development.

Compass advisors support exploratory student in designing a pathway unique to their specific interests. Exploratory students receive one-on-one support from their Compass advisor to take steps towards finding a major that is a good fit for them. 

Students can explore all majors and pathways at Salve Regina except for nursing, as nursing majors must apply directly to the program when they apply for admission to the University. Students who are interested in this field can work with a Compass advisor to determine alternate and parallel pathways.

You must declare a major by the time you reach 60 credit hours, which is typically March of your sophomore year. The undergraduate catalog provides specific requirements and the degree sequence for each program of study.

Some programs require students to declare by March of their first year:

  • Education – Students should work closely with their Compass advisor to determine their first-year courses. SAT or ACT scores will be requested. The department chair approves exploratory students who apply for an education program. Education majors are reviewed at the end of their sophomore year to determine if they are eligible to continue in the program.
  • All 3+ and 4+ programs require a careful sequence of courses. Exploratory students should start these requirements in their first semester and must declare by March of their first year to ensure accurate advising. Students should work closely with their Compass advisor and the program coordinator to determine their first-year courses.
  • Students interested in the dance major or minor should meet with the program coordinator to determine their eligibility. An audition tape may be required.
  • Students who transition into the exploratory program during or after their first semester will need to determine their new graduation pathway and deadline to declare a major.

  • Provide advice and in-depth course selection support to help students plan their courses carefully to stay on track for graduation.
  • Create an open and welcoming space for students to explore their unique interests and build a timeline that works for the student's goals and needs.
  • Have an initial advising meeting to review interests and explain the exploratory program. This meeting will likely review your semester course schedule as well.
  • Review the student's exploratory booklet to answer any questions about the process.
  • Connect students with faculty, departments, staff and resources related to their interests. Compass advisors support the GST092 course.
  • No advisor will tell a student which major is the right fit. Students will make this decision themselves.

  • Students are encouraged to follow the advice of their Compass advisor, but all course selection choices are ultimately the student's responsibility.
  • Meet with their advisor each semester during pre-registration to update them on their current interests. If a student's course interests change, they should meet with their exploratory advisor for consultation.
  • All students must have an initial exploratory meeting to review their interests and determine next steps together.
  • Complete GST092: Introduction to Exploratory Studies to learn about major and career exploration. This course provides students with an exploratory booklet and introduces them to resources and action steps that can help them work towards finding their major.
  • Complete necessary action steps, including meeting with faculty, peers, career specialists, alumni and career professionals.
  • Declare a major by the deadline. Notify their advisor when they are ready to declare a major. The student will work with their advisor throughout the declaration process.

Semester I (~16 credits)

  • Complete an in-depth exploratory meeting with a Compass advisor before the first semester. Build the first semester schedule to align with interests and necessary degree requirements.
  • Explore possible majors deeply.
  • Complete GST092: Introduction to Exploratory Studies to learn about majors, careers and resources.
  • Meet with faculty and complete an informational interview.
  • Meet with Compass advisor to plan spring courses around majors they are most interested in.

Semester II (~15 credits)

  • Test courses in any remaining majors or dive deeper into a major of interest.
  • By March, narrow possible majors down to 2-3 max. Students who are interested in education or a 3+/4+ program should declare their major.
  • Meet with Compass advisor to plan sophomore year courses.

Semester III (~15 credits)

  • Test final 2-3 majors.
  • Meet with Compass advisor to plan the last semester as an exploratory student. Prepare to declare by March of the next semester.

Semester IV (~15 credits)

  • Declare a major by March.
  • Plan junior year courses with new faculty advisor.

Students who transfer to Salve Regina as an exploratory student work with their advisor to curate a plan unique to their situation. Transfer students must declare a major by the same deadlines listed above, so they may have limited time in the exploratory program depending on how many credits they transfer in. Transfers may be restricted from certain 3+ programs or the education program depending on the credit they bring into Salve.

Transfer students who start at Salve Regina in one program and want to switch into the exploratory program will also need specific guidance. To switch into the exploratory program, transfers should complete the online change of major form and meet with a Compass advisor to determine which majors they can explore in the timeframe unique to their situation.