So in the midst of April when my exams were underway, I actually got some good news in my inbox. It started out like this:
You have been approved for the Double Major in Science and Arts, Science Major in Psychology and Arts Major in English Literature. The specialization for the Arts major in English Literature will be added to your academic record.
That’s right! In addition to studying Behavioural Neuroscience, I also study English! Waahhhh! I’ve had this goal in mind for a while now, it just took some time for me to actually get off my butt and put it into action. But now that it’s finally in place, I feel much happier. It’s one thing to tell everyone you’re planning on pursuing a double major, but another thing altogether when you actually are.
Now, taking a minor or double major can be a lot of work. You’ll have less room for electives if you have a set deadline for when you want to graduate and a limited trove of cash at your disposal, but if you’re really passionate about what you’re studying outside of your major, I think it can be quite worthwhile. Depending on what you double major/minor in, the courses you take can even count towards your breadth requirements, so you wouldn’t need to worry too much there. If I wasn’t going to double major in English, I probably would have taken English courses as my electives anyways. Either that or creative writing.
But how do you get a double major–or even minor–you ask? Easy! Well, the paperwork portion, that is. (The courses you take may not be too easy, but they can be eye-opening in terms of your learning at UBC. Bu you already know that.) You need to declare your double major/minor through a form that’s available here if you’re in Science. (If you’re in Arts or some other faculty…well, I’m not too sure if the process is exactly the same, but I imagine it shouldn’t be too different, and Google is really our best friend, folks.)
The form basically asks you to list down the courses you’ll be taking and the general term and session that you will be taking them in. By doing this, you’re basically adding more course requisites that you need to take before you can graduate. Make sure you check the website of your intended double major. For English, I looked up what the requirements of the typical English major here and here. After you have the important courses listed on your form, go wild with whatever courses interests you!
It doesn’t really matter when you take the course, even though you might have written that you’ll take it in first term but then decided later on that second term would indeed be better. It just matters that you’ve completed the course. What DOES matter, however, is that if you decide you want to change a course, provided, I suppose, that it is not essential for all students majoring in what you want to do. (Say this is the only course that’s preventing you from graduating this year, but you can’t take it because of a scheduling clash. Sucks, right?) Not to fear! You simply need to fill out a course change form, which can also be found in the link above.
When you’re done filling out the form, which is the easier part, you have to find the Undergraduate Advisor of your faculty and an Undergraduate Advisor of the faculty you’re trying to major/minor in. For me, that was Dr. Barnes and one of these cool people. They sign your sheet, and then you’re free to drop it into the Science Advising office (which by the way, due to renovations, has temporarily moved to Ponderosa G, 2044 Lower Mall; there’s a huge sign near it). They’ll sign the “Faculty of Science” part, and you’ll receive an email sometime over the next few weeks confirming that you’ll be majoring/minoring in XYZ. The time from hand-in to email took abnormally long, but I was told in advance that it was because the person who processed these forms would be gone for a month. You might have a speedier response time. And unless you aren’t in good academic standing at UBC (i.e. you have a failing GPA), you should face no problems whatsoever getting this process done.
Some caveats: You have until the end of your third year (according to what’s on your Proof of Enrolment) to declare a double major/minor. You can double major/minor in two Science specializations or Science and Arts, with some limitations. For instance, if you are in Behavioural Neuroscience, you can’t double major/minor in Psychology. But that’s kind of a given.
Also, I’d like to note that a double major and a dual degree are NOT the same. It surprised me a little when I told people that I was double majoring, they thought that I was actually getting a dual degree. A dual degree requires at least 5 years of schoolwork, but you come out of it with two Bachelor’s, a BSc and a BA. A double major just gets you one major (so for me, a BSc) with some recognition that you did other work. If you play your cards right with a double major, you could finish up your undergrad in the standard 4 year timeline. If you wanted to, that is.