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Choosing a Program of Study

A high school student can start exploring college and career options by choosing a Program of Study.

A Program of Study is a high school and postsecondary educational plan developed around a career pathway that helps learners prepare for a career.

A Program of Study is sequential and based on regional industry expectations and skill standards. Students can take classes in high school that will help prepare them for college or job training, and their future career.

Guide for High School Students

  1. Think about your interests and the careers you might want to do. Take an interest assessment such as this Career Cluster Interest Survey to find out how your likes and dislikes match possible careers. The career cluster with the most occupations that match your interests could be the focus of your Program of Study.
  2. Before you choose a Program of Study, find out more about the occupations that match your interests, skills, or your other priorities. To choose, you should know each occupation's:
    • Entry-level and medium pay
    • Education requirements to enter the occupation
    • Skills needed
    • Availability of jobs in your region
    • Related careers and advancement opportunities

    You can search for occupation information on CAREERwise Education (formerly ISEEK.org), MCIS (subscription required), or another career information resource.
  3. Choose a career pathway that has more than one occupation you like. Some of the classes and activities you do in high school will prepare you for college and job training programs, and to work in these occupations. This is your chosen Program of Study.
  4. Talk with your school adviser or use the MN Programs of Study website to find out if your chosen Program of Study is taught at your high school.
  5. If your chosen Program of Study is not offered at your school, talk with your adviser or a Career and Technical Education staff person about other Programs offered at the school.
  6. You can also ask how you can "create your own" Program of Study by taking classes and participating in activities related to your chosen career pathway. Make sure that you are meeting required academic and graduation requirements.
  7. If your chosen Program of Study is offered in your school, talk with your adviser or a Career and Technical Education staff person about how to participate in the curriculum. You will need to know:
    • Which high school classes to take
    • High school academic and extracurricular activities
    • High school graduation requirements
    • Which colleges or universities offer your Program of Study
    • Which college or university programs relate to your Program of Study
    • College preparation options
    • Options for early enrollment in college
    • Work-based learning opportunities
    • Service learning opportunities
    • Occupations related to the Program of Study
  8. Explore the colleges and job training programs related to your Program of Study. Most Minnesota high schools have partnerships with local community and technical colleges, and universities. You might be able to take college courses before you graduate from high school. Also, check if the Program of Study work you did in high school will easily transfer to a college or job training program.