For many students, getting an undergraduate degree in four years is a lot of work. Requirements pile up, classes are unavailable and pushed back, work gets in the way of taking enough credits and suddenly students are stuck for an extra semester, change their major or drop out. Yet for some high achieving students, one degree isn’t enough.
Instead of graduating with one bachelor’s degree, some students double major and graduate with two. Katherine Fleck, a sophomore, is double majoring in history and American studies. She will graduate in the spring of 2013 after four years with two degrees.
“I had always planned on pursuing two degrees,” Fleck said. “I wanted to be a history major and I knew it didn’t require many credits so I didn’t want to shorten my college experiences.”
Students who come to college with credits from high school through dual enrollment, AP courses, etc. have an easier time double-majoring due to flexibility in their schedule. Suzannah Turnage, a sophomore double majoring in classics and English, graduated high school with her associate’s degree. Turnage still takes on average 17 credit hours a semester.
“I have an intricately planned way of getting both degrees,” Turnage said. “I tackled one first completely and am now doing the other one.”
Neither Fleck nor Turnage have a hard time managing the larger workload that double majoring involves.
“16 or 17 credits are a comfortable workload,” Fleck said. “15 makes me feel unproductive. It hasn’t really affected my life. I have tons of unaccountable hours.”
Both Fleck and Turnage are actively involved in extra-curriculars on campus. Both are members of Phi Sigma Pi, the national co-educational honor fraternity and Turnage is also a member of the University Conduct Board.
Though they do not encounter problems with the workload, the logistics of double majoring can be difficult at registration time.
“Having more than one major definitely complicates the advising and scheduling process,” Fleck said. “My advisors don’t take into consideration the requirements for my other major or don’t know them.” This often leads to multiple advising appointments and headaches for students trying to schedule their classes.
Despite some complications, double majoring can be incredibly beneficial for students. Related majors can enhance understanding of subject matter and having multiple specializations can make a student more attractive in the job market.
“My majors are completely related. My focus in history is on American history so American studies has given me great insight into it,” Fleck said. “It is like an additional resource. [My second major] has bolstered my first.”
Fleck plans on attending graduate school and one day teaching American studies on a collegiate level.
“[Double majoring] is interesting because I am exposed to a diverse group of people. I have classes with different people and I have more opportunities for different extra-curriculars,” Turnage said. Turnage plans on going to graduate school and then joining the Peace Corps. She hopes to own day get a professorship in either area.
“Classics is my passion. I have always had an affinity for ancient languages and my love to read which worked into my second major,” Turnage said.