The purpose of the present study was to investigate the development of college students' major selection and whether and how this choice is associated with their developing ethnic identities. Ninety ethnically diverse college students were interviewed in their first, sophomore, and senior years. Mixed-method analyses revealed 5 theoretically consistent pathways of how students configured their ethnic identities and majors over time: low awareness, consciousness-raised, high awareness, integrating, and compartmentalized. These pathways were differentially related to students' ethnicities and majors, suggesting that students' identity experiences are moderated by their chosen majors. The results of this study underscore the contribution of a longitudinal, life-span, approach to identity development for understanding the diversity in identity pathways during college. The findings also have implications for practical purposes, particularly for advising, counseling, and curriculum development.
- Academic major
- Mixed methods