Double majors, second degrees offer flexibility

By Marie Wilson

Students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences can choose their major from more than 70 programs of study. But they do not have to pick just one.

LAS allows students to pursue more than one major within the college, said Lucy Rich, assistant dean for LAS.

Sarah Erxleben, junior in LAS, said she had trouble narrowing down her options to one major, so she chose to study French commercial studies and history through her college’s double major program.

“I went in undecided, and I really couldn’t pick one major because I’m interested in a lot of things,” Erxleben said.

Erxleben is listed as a French commercial studies major because she will be studying abroad in Paris until June. She said she plans to come back next year and work on her history major.

Colleges other than LAS also allow students to work towards two majors, but the second major must be listed under another college’s curriculum, said Mick Harmon, admissions and records supervisor for the College of ACES.

“Students can only get one degree in the College of ACES,” Harmon said. “They can get a second degree, but it has to be outside the college.”

If a student chooses to obtain majors in two different colleges, their diploma is called a second degree, not a double major, Rich said.

LAS also offers a second degree program, but Rich said it is a less convenient option for many students because they must complete 30 hours of class work beyond all requirements for their original degree.

Students also have to petition for an intercollege transfer to be accepted into a second degree program, Harmon said.

Erxleben said she decided to pursue a double major instead of a double degree because it seemed like the best option to suit her future plans.

“It’s a personal preference,” Erxleben said. “And I was told that a dual degree is more for if you’re going into academia.”

Erxleben does not have her career plans completely mapped out, but she knows having a broad background in two subject areas will help her explore her options.

“It will give me a well-rounded education so I won’t be pigeonholed into one area,” she said.

Other students may choose to study more than one field because they have a very specific career goal that requires multiple areas of expertise, Rich said.

She mentioned that students in the College of Business may want to get an economics degree from LAS, or speech and hearing science students from the College of Applied Health Sciences may need an LAS degree in linguistics.

Unless a student is interested in a very specialized career, Rich said pursuing a minor instead of a second degree is also a good option. Students in ACES get minors more often than second degrees, Harmon said.

Despite the differences in terminology between double majors and second degrees, taking a variety of courses never hurts students in the search for a career, Harmon said.

“Basically, it’s just adding courses to your resume,” he said.

Double Major

-only offered by the college of LAS

-both majors must be in LAS

-both majors can be completed within 120 hours Second Degree

-majors must be in different colleges

-must complete 30 extra hours outside of all primary degree requirements (150 hours total)

-must petition for intercollege transfer