It’s that time of the year again! No, not Christmas 🎄, but the time of decisions (woop) 🙌! For Year 9s to 12s, it might be choosing what subjects to take next year, Year 13s, the more important choice of what to study in University. For us first year students studying Engineering/Commerce it’s the nerve wrecking decision of what to specialise/major in 😖!

In case you weren’t familiar with what these are, let me give you a quick run-down.


Specialisation Subject match-ish Number of spaces in 2018 (Subject to change)
Civil Engineering ENGGEN121


Mechanical Engineering ENGGEN121


Mechatronics Engineering ENGGEN121



Electrical and Electronic Engineering ELECTENG101 100
Software Engineering ENGGEN131 90
Chemical and Materials Engineering CHEMMAT121 85
Computer Systems Engineering ENGGEN131


Engineering Science ENGSCI111


Biomedical Engineering 35

More about the specialisations:


Major Subject match-ish
Accounting ACCTG101 (& ACCTG102 if you major)
Commercial Law COMLAW101
Economics ECON151 (& ECON152 if you major)
Finance ACCTG101 (& ACCTG102 if you major)
Information Management
Information Systems INFOSYS110
Innovation and Entrepreneurship
International Business
Operations and Supply Chain Management

More information on majors here:

Commerce also offers one specialisation which is a Bachelor of Property.


How many specialisations/majors can I choose?

For Engineering, you can only choose one specialisation as they are all significantly different to each other. Commerce on the other hand typically allows you to choose either a single or a double major. Triple majors are not unheard of (usually for non-conjoint students), however you will need special permission for it. Normally conjoint students do a single Commerce major on top of their Engineering specialisations, but it is possible to double major as well.

Can I choose any specialisation/major?

You may have noticed that in the engineering table I have included the number of places for each specialisation because, that’s right, not everyone gets into their chosen one😥. In fact, for more competitive specialisations like Software Engineering and Biomedical Engineering, the GPA you need (around 6.5 to 7.0) is just below what you need to get into Pharmacy/Optometry 😬. Commerce on the other hand has no space limitations, and anyone can major in anything – granted you pass all the required courses.

So how do I decide?

Dealing with uncertainty 😥

That folks, is the million-dollar question! I’m a strong believer in everything happens for a reason. I came into Engineering thinking I was going to specialise in Mechanical Engineering with a Commerce major in Economics and Finance. I came out of first semester completely set on something else. The two pieces of advice I would give to anyone struggling to decide (and this applies in pretty much every context, including subject and degree selection) is to follow your heart and keep an open mind.

Do have a vague understanding of where you are headed, and the job prospects/security of your intended field, e.g. be realistic about becoming a professional gamer 🤔. But think of what it is you want in life, something intangible, like a feeling, or an action. As cheesy as it sounds, I personally want to help people and make a positive contribution to society (🧀🧀🧀 🙄😂). Back in high school, I thought this was going to be through healthcare, but because I don’t think I could bear the emotional stress (and often sadness) of being a doctor, ultimately I decided against it. Through engineering and commerce though, I found that there are indirect, possibly even more impactful ways of helping people, like building medical machinery for hospitals, using optimisation methods to help NGOs run efficiently, developing information systems make sure that families in need are identified and supported etc. There are so many different ways to reach your end goal, many of which aren’t too obvious. Keep your end goal in mind, whether that is being creative, getting to travel, interacting with animals, etc. I can assure you there is more than one path to it.

This leads me onto my second point: keep an open mind. What’s great about the Bachelor of Engineering and Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Auckland is that you get a taster of many of the specialisations/majors (as seen in the subject match-ish table) in your first year. This means you get to experience most of them first hand before you pick one/two to dedicate your degree to. These taster courses allows you to study Physics, Maths, Accounting, Economics etc. as you never have before and introduces you to things like programming, Commercial Law and Information Systems. University has literally opened up a whole new world of possibilities *Cue Aladdin’s a whole new world 🌎💫* and it will for you too!

My ultimate piece of advice would be don’t stress about it! Life will work itself out. Struggling to make a decision? Give it time. Still struggling? Take a deep breath, clear your mind, and ask yourself again. 99.99% of the time your subconscious mind already knows the answer 😉.

Until next time~