Adding a Major or Minor
If you’re a psychology major thinking about adding a major or minor, first ask yourself, “why?”
First of all, I admire your initiative to go above and beyond the requirements of your regular coursework. Before you start running all over campus gathering the required signatures to add a major or minor, first ask yourself, “why?” Adding a major or minor can have huge benefits, but there can also be some drawbacks. So make sure you have fully evaluated the options before you go through with it. Here are a couple things to think about: Why do you want to add the major or minor? To further your career goals? Maybe it’s something completely outside of your field, but you are passionate about it and enjoy it.
Furthering Career Goals in Psychology by Adding a Major or Minor
For example, if you’re a psychology major wanting to be a professor in feminist psychology it probably makes a whole lot of sense to add a second major in women’s studies. Anyone thinking about a research career (in academia or otherwise) would likely benefit from adding statistics as a second major or minor. In fact, I’ve met a fair number of students in psychology end up having minors in statistics. Sociology majors may benefit from being able to take a more societal (macro)-level perspective on issues. Some who are more focused on neuroscience may benefit from adding a major or minor in the life sciences. There could be a trade-off here though: you could be better prepared for graduate school and could demonstrate to prospective faculty mentors that you’re serious about your education, but you may end up taking a bit of a hit on your GPA in the process, which could inadvertently lower your chances of getting into graduate school (or for obtaining prestigious fellowships). In most cases, it is probably better to go for it – most faculty would rather see you challenge yourself than take the easy way out. It doesn’t hurt to sit down and make an honest assessment though of how much the prospective major or minor is really going to help you further your career goals before you invest the time (not to mention tuition!)
Personal Benefits of Adding a Major or Minor
Ok, time for a moment of honesty… At my university the degree in psychology is a bachelor of science (BS). Being completely honest here, one of the reasons I added a second major was that it was a bachelor of arts (BA). So, I graduated with TWO degrees! That meant TWO diplomas and I can forever list both degrees on my CV. Which, (again being completely honest) is actually a little bit foolish when I think about it. It turns out that the second major isn’t really going to help further my career goals very much. Luckily, both degrees were in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, so it was only an extra 30 credit hours for the BA. Still, that was a whole year I could have spent in some other way furthering my career. For me it made sense because I wasn’t ready to start graduate school at the time, and I thought it would be better to get an extra degree than take a year off (a year off is beneficial to some people). Basically, there are all sorts of reasons for adding a major or minor and the important thing is that you are doing what is right for you. Maybe you like art or theatre so much that it helps you relax to the extent that you are extremely productive whenever you’re taking those classes. There’s no one-size-fits-all education plan, so do what’s right for you. Of course, don’t be afraid to ask a trusted faculty member or adviser for help.