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Tips For Declaring a Double Major at UCI

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UC Irvine chapter.

Since the end of the fall quarter, I have been planning my four-year schedule around double majoring in computer science and mathematics rather than just computer science, which was the sole major I was admitted into UCI with. By looking ahead and planning my courses, I figured out how I could maintain a reasonable schedule while pursuing both majors, and now in the spring quarter, I am a double major. While the setbacks I faced in the process weren’t overwhelming, they did require me to invest substantial time in planning and finding information from the university website and academic advisors. Here I will share some tips with prospective or new double majors who may find themselves in my position, hopefully making the switch a little smoother and more transparent.

The change of major requirements

The full change of major requirements can be found here.

The officially listed change of major requirements applies to students who have completed at most 120 units and are switching, rather than adding, a major. However, the university policy stipulates that students pursuing a double major may be held to higher standards and their applications looked at with more scrutiny, or even denied if the addition would cause excess units.

It is here where you need to contact an academic advisor from the school from which you would like to add a major. They will tell you if the department you want to join has additional requirements for double majors. In my case, the Math Department informed me that they would not apply extra requirements to my application.

At this point, you should also contact an academic advisor from your home school to ask if they have any policies to follow for students declaring a major in addition to the one you are already pursuing. To be safe before you invest more time in pursuing the double major, make sure to receive a thumbs up from your home school that they will approve your application once you meet the requirements posed by your target school.

Course planning

The requirements for your target major may include taking courses that are school- or major-restricted in a way that prevents you from enrolling. Your option becomes enrolling in those classes after the restriction drop date, which occurs after the end of open enrollment. Then another obstacle is hoping the class doesn’t fill up before you have the opportunity to add it. Take care when planning your course schedule for the next few quarters so that you (a) have room to take the courses required to add the major, and (b) have a good shot at getting into restricted courses.

When deciding which courses to save for until after the restriction drop date, I heavily utilize ZotTracker, a website that tracks enrollment statistics for past UCI classes. There you can compare which classes usually fill up or don’t fill up, so you can find classes that tend to stay open or with a reasonably small waitlist by the time the restrictions drop. Beyond trying to enroll in restricted courses, this is also extremely useful when you have already declared the double major, but are trying to take more than 18 units in a quarter, which may be the case if your second major adds a large workload.

The change of major application

The change of major application can be submitted here, on StudentAccess > Applications > Change Of Major.

Once you have completed the requirements communicated on the change of major website and any additional requirements posed by the academic advisors of the target school, you can submit a change of major application on the registrar’s website. Double-check before and after you submit the application that you are not dropping your current major, and that you are adding the correct second major. If you notice a mistake after you submit the application, you can cancel the application on the same webpage.

You will probably have some time before the advisors review your application unless you have arranged with them beforehand to review it at a specific time. Remember that your application will need to be approved by both your home school and your target school before the second major is officially declared. A few days after you are accepted, your new major should show up on DegreeWorks and other StudentAccess pages. The schools are obligated to accept or reject your application in a timely manner (my application was accepted within one business week), so if the application remains pending for a long time, contact the advisors for the schools directly.

The quarterly unit cap

You may find it convenient to take more than 20 units in a quarter of lower-division classes so that you have more space to spread out your upper-division classes. If your majors are in two different schools, either school can potentially raise your unit cap independently of the other. For example, the School of Information and Computer Sciences does not grant exceptions to the unit cap. However, the School of Physical Sciences has the option to apply for an exception and has informed me that they might grant an exception if I take more physical science units than ICS units in a given quarter. Contact the academic advisors associated with your schools to find out your options.

The total credit limit

The university states here that students are not permitted to complete more than 216, or 236 for Engineering students, units during their enrollment at UCI. However, pursuing a double major may require exceeding this limit. Contact academic advisors from all schools you are associated with so that you can know their policies for double majors exceeding the total credit limit and, if the school does not let you exceed the limit, work with academic advisors to potentially obtain an exception. The School of ICS has informed me that they will not apply the credit limit to me while I am making satisfactory progress toward either degree, and the School of Physical Sciences has informed me that they will not apply the credit limit to me.

Final Thoughts

If you wish to declare a double major, it will probably be safer for your academic plans to dive a bit deeper into the administrative and logistical side of university affairs so you don’t come across frustrating roadblocks once you have already spent time toward both majors. While you’re planning your plan for the change of major application and your courses, take some time to reflect on how you will help yourself actually complete two majors. After all, you will have approximately twice the workload if you successfully declare the second major. Make sure to make time for yourself and to spread your courses out in a way that will give you the best quality of education and life. The most important thing to do during your time at the university is to take care of yourself, so keep that in mind as you make your decision.

Rose Enos

UC Irvine '27

Rose Enos (she/her) is a first-year student majoring in computer science and mathematics at UC Irvine. She enjoys writing media analyses and connecting her thoughts and experiences on the philosophy of gender and being. She aims to write articles that present ways for transgender students to feel more comfortable in themselves and at their campus, and that stimulate discussion of various topics related to academic and personal life. She is inspired by queer writers and media and her ultimate goal is to add to the repertoire of representation. In school, Rose participated in the debate team for eight years where she discovered her interest in philosophy and developed her personal writing style. Online and at school, she has volunteered as an editor for both academic and non-academic papers, which has fed her interest in grammar and linguistics. She is excited to incorporate queerness and queer interpretations into her work. On the side, she writes fiction and poetry. Rose is from Sacramento, CA where she permanently resides with her mom, dad, younger brother, and cat. She was the valedictorian of her high school graduating class. In her free time, she enjoys playing video games, watching video essays, and spending time with her girlfriend.