AU Options – Bachelor of Arts with a Double Major

For students looking to pursue two major areas of interest, as well as to keep their choices beyond graduation wide open, completing a bachelor of arts with a double major may be a perfect solution.

Serita Smith, a student advisor and the coordinator of advising services for Athabasca University in Calgary, explains that ?a student might choose to complete a double major if they wish to specialize in two different areas within one degree . . . in the same amount of time? that it takes to complete a regular bachelor’s degree with just one major. And while ?double majors can be added or dropped at any time,? students must meet all the requirements for both majors, so students changing or adding majors should always be careful to check the requirements of their program, especially if changing majors later on in their program.

Because students must ensure that they meet the minimum requirements of both majors, including the number of 400-level courses required for each major, choosing to double major can sometimes result in challenges when selecting courses. Space for option courses is greatly limited when students double major, and Smith advises that ?students looking for flexibility in course selection and the ability to explore a variety of subject areas should not elect to do a double major.?

Graduating with a double major can also provide distinct benefits, though, particularly if a student has not yet decided what they wish to do with their degree after graduation. Double major students have the option to pursue graduate studies or a career in either area of specialization.

Heather Fraser is an AU student and AUSU councillor who is currently completing a bachelor of arts with a double major. Fraser chose her current program after having initially enrolled in a Bachelor of Science in Computing and Information Systems. ?Information systems is my career,? she says, but after taking a psychology course as an elective, she discovered that psychology is her ?real interest, especially educational psychology (special needs students having their lives enhanced by technology).?

Changing programs to a bachelor of arts with double major in Information Systems and Psychology gave Fraser the chance to design a program that contained courses that focus on both her career and her passion. And courses like Psychology 476: Assistive Technology for Students with Special Needs, in which She’s currently enrolled, give her the chance to combine both of her major fields of interest within a single course.

While Fraser loves her program, it also has its drawbacks. She will have to complete more than the regular 120 credits in order to meet all her requirements, as many of the courses she had planned to put toward her original BScCIS cannot be applied to her BA program. In fact, her ?entire first term at AU is now counted as ?additional to program.?? Course selections can be complicated, especially when the prerequisites for core courses in each major are considered.

Fraser also hates that although she was ?dying to take a few science courses for fun,? there is simply ?no spare room? in her program to take science electives, such as the chemistry and astrophysics courses that interest her.

There are definite benefits to the double major program, however. ?I could continue on with a masters in Computer Science, or a Master of Counselling, or a Master of Arts in Integrated Studies,? Fraser explains. ?I keep sticking with the double major because I don’t want to be stuck deciding now what I want to do when I grow up!?

Completing a bachelor of arts program with a double major is certainly one way to ensure that the doors remain wide open for continued studies or a career in either area of specialization.

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