Exploratory Studies

Exploratory Studies On-campus, Non-degree Program

Exploratory Studies

Discover the major that's right for you.

Like many students, you may be undecided about the academic major you want to pursue. That's OK! At PennWest California, the Exploratory Studies program gives you time to explore various subject areas while you make steady progress toward graduation.

The Exploratory Studies program at PennWest California is specifically designed for undergraduate students who are not ready to declare a major. Students who enroll in Exploratory Studies work with an Academic Counselor to strategically select general education courses that are required for all majors. At the same time, students in the Exploratory Studies program have opportunities to learn more about their academic options at PennWest California.

Build a broad foundation of knowledge and skills.

Studies show that up to 60% of undergraduates change their college major at least once, and some change multiple times. This can extend the time it takes to earn a degree, because courses required for one major may not count toward another.

Choosing Exploratory Studies lets students who are undecided about their major explore various disciplines without extending the time it takes to complete a bachelor's degree. These students are encouraged to enroll in courses that satisfy General Education (Gen Ed) requirements, which apply to all majors.

At PennWest California, students are required to take 40 or 41 General Education credits in order to develop a broad foundation of knowledge and skills. With the assistance of an Academic Counselor, students in the Exploratory Studies program can earn their required Gen Ed credits while they explore various subjects and decide which major to declare.

Program Highlights: Exploratory Studies

Explore Your Options: When you select Exploratory Studies, you'll be enrolled in UNI 101: Introduction to University Studies, a course designed specifically for students who have not yet selected their major. Your UNI 101 instructor will provide support and direction during your first semester at PennWest California. You also can choose to "class shadow" some junior- or senior-level courses in areas of interest, so you get to meet faculty and students in that major.

Learn more about applying.

Student-to-faculty ratio at PennWest California.
40 or 41  
Number of General Education credits required for all PennWest California majors.
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Program Benefits

Students in the Exploratory Studies program can explore their bachelor's degree options in a supportive environment. Students are guided by a support team that includes:

  • Academic Counselors who assist with scheduling and provide guidance in selecting courses that align with potential careers.
  • Career Coaches who engage students in various tasks that will help them select a major that best fits their strengths and interests.
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Program Outcomes

Students who choose Exploratory Studies have time to explore their academic options before declaring a major. In the meantime, they have the opportunity to:

  • Earn credits toward their General Education requirements, which are required for all majors.
  • Stay on track toward timely graduation, without taking courses that might not count toward the major they eventually select.
  • Receive support and guidance while they determine the program of study that best suits their academic strengths and career goals.
Exploratory Studies Undergraduate Non-Degree Programs
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Guidance and Direction

Students who enroll in college before they have decided on a major face a unique set of challenges. At PennWest California, these students are enrolled in the Exploratory Studies program. Our goal is to support and guide students so they make steady progress toward a bachelor's degree - even while they are deciding on a major.

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Support and Mentoring

Through the Office of Academic Success, students in the Exploratory Studies program may sign up for a Peer Mentor, a trained upper-class student who can answer questions and offer advice about college life. Students also can meet with an Academic Counselor to discuss requirements for various majors and meet with graduate students who are trained to assist with basic academic skills.