Alfred University News

Alfred University creating pathways for students to earn double majors

Alfred University faculty have approved a new policy which allows students to pursue cross-college double majors. Students from across the University can choose from among eight double majors in the College of Business and eight in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Jean Cardinale, head of the Division of Biology and Biochemistry at Alfred University and Interdisciplinary Program manager, said faculty unanimously approved the new double majors policy last October. Steps are now being taken to develop “official pathways” for students to pursue double majors.

A double major refers to a student pursuing an academic major or field of study in addition to their primary degree program.  Students who double major fulfill the requirements for both majors and receive a single degree.

Alfred University faculty approved the following double majors in the College of Business: accounting, business administration, business analytics, data analytics, equine business management, finance, healthcare planning and management, and marketing. Double majors approved for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences are biology, chemistry, communication studies, criminal justice studies, English, psychology, political science, and sociology.

The business administration double major is only available to students enrolled in a non-College of Business degree program.

Alfred University students have for years had the opportunity to pursue double majors, but they were traditionally offered within the same academic unit. For example, a student pursuing a degree in finance may have sought a double major in another College of Business program, such as accounting; or a student pursuing a chemistry degree may have earned a double major, such as biology, within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The double majors approved last fall offer opportunities for students to pursue a wider variety of secondary majors across different academic units.

Throughout the current spring semester, Cardinale said, faculty will create “official pathways” toward earning a double major. The pathways will coordinate scheduling between academic programs to allow students to take the coursework required to earn majors in both programs.

Students often choose to pursue one or more minors, and some traditional major-minor pairings — for example, criminal justice studies major/political science minor; or engineering major with a biology, chemistry, or physics minors — will be looked upon as models when developing pathways to earning a double major. Two majors often share some required coursework and elective offerings, which helps ease the path to a double major.

“The double major is similar to a minor, but there are more required courses” needed for a double major, Cardinale explained. “The double major is more in depth.”

Headshot of Jean Cardinale
Jean Cardinale, head of the Division of Biology and Biochemistry, also serves as Interdisciplinary Program manager, helping lead efforts to increase double major opportunities at Alfred University.

Double majors are beneficial in that they show that students are well-rounded in their academic pursuits, something on which employers look favorably. Cardinale said having a double major will be advantageous to students in the job market and those pursuing graduate school.

“From a practical standpoint, employers see a double major as a stamp of a multidisciplinary perspective,” Cardinale said. “It demonstrates that the student can solve problems from two different perspectives. The problems the world is facing aren’t single perspective problems; they’re multi-faceted. Having a double major shows you can think outside the box.”

Each year over the last seven years, between 6 and 8 percent of Alfred University students have earned double majors. By approving the new double majors, and creating pathways to earn them, Alfred’s numbers should come more in line with the national average of 25 percent. Faculty from the University’s undergraduate academic units are expected to propose additional double majors in the future.