How to Double Major

mortar boardMany college students have a hard time settling on a major, and others have career goals that combine several areas of interest.  Double majors are appealing because students can pursue multiple fields of study.  Some colleges make it easy for students to major in two subjects at a time, but others do not.  It is wise to evaluate how a double major will affect course selection and time needed to graduate.

Identify Core Requirements

Identify core graduation requirements.  Each school has its own unique policies and requirements for graduation.  Each department will require different courses for a particular major. Some colleges only want students to complete a few core courses, but at some schools students spend the first year or two satisfying these requirements. Schools with fewer core graduation requirements make it easier for students to double (or triple) major.

Obtain Requirements for Your Majors

Students should take time to review the specifics of each major, and meet with an advisor in the department they’re interested in to get their questions answered. Then you should obtain the degree requirements for each major– a list of all the courses required to earn a degree. Most colleges list degree requirements online, and details also are available from departmental advisors.

Take Prerequisite Courses First

Identify preliminary or prerequisite courses– the courses that must be taken before a student can register for a more advanced course.  For example, College Algebra may be a prerequisite for Elements of Calculus, or Introduction to British Literature may be required before a student could take Shakespeare’s Major Works.  Start taking prerequisite courses your first semester.  The sooner these classes are out of the way, the faster you can tackle the advanced requirements for your majors.

Make Courses Work Twice As Hard

Find all courses that satisfy multiple requirements.  Because two majors means twice the number of requirements, a student considering double majors should try to minimize extra classes by identifying courses that count for more than one requirement. If a course is required for your finance major and can also meet a requirement for your double-major in math, take it.

Be Realistic

Draft a degree plan then evaluate the time needed to complete it.  Some students will be able to complete all requirements for a double major in four years.  Others may need to take extra classes for a few semesters or even add an extra year.  In some cases it makes sense to double major, but many students will find the extra time it takes would be better spent in obtaining a master’s or other graduate degree.

Get Your Plan Approved

Some colleges have “general advising” for freshmen and sophomores to make sure first and second-year students are satisfying core requirements and developing degree plans.  However, students planning to double major need to meet with advisors in both departments.  Make sure you meet all campus requirements for degree plan submission and approval. Requirements can change from year to year, so submit your plans early. Completing the requirements for one degree can be challenging; double majors can require double the work.  Students should research their options carefully before deciding to add a second major.  Once they’ve committed to a double major, they can save themselves time, money, and stress by developing a careful plan for completing all the requirements.]]>

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