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Office of the Registrar

Undergraduate Secondary Majors

Secondary majors offer students the opportunity to earn one baccalaureate degree in one program supplemented by a rich intellectual experience in a second field of specialization outside that primary program. The “secondary major” offers the option of studying two subjects from two different degree programs while earning a baccalaureate degree in the first major without the requirement of earning a second baccalaureate degree in the secondary major.

Specifically, this option allows a student from one degree program to earn a secondary major from a participating department within a different program by fulfilling the requirements (normally 40–45 quarter hours) set forth by that participating department but without requiring students to complete additional courses that comprise that other program’s core curriculum. Through the secondary major option, upon graduation, a student earns one baccalaureate degree from DU (through the fulfillment of all requirements from the student’s primary degree program). Although that student will not be awarded a second degree, the student’s transcript will reflect that he or she earned a secondary major in that second area of study.

As an illustration, if a B.S. in computer science student wishes to earn a secondary major in philosophy, he or she will need to satisfy all of the requirements of both the B.S. degree in computer science and the secondary major in philosophy. The student will graduate with a “B.S. in Computer Science.” The transcript will note that the student earned a B.S. degree in Computer Science with a Secondary Major in Philosophy.

Students still have the option to double major within a single baccalaureate degree program or invest the additional time required to earn a second baccalaureate degree, as currently described in the DU Undergraduate Bulletin.

Interested students should consult with their “secondary” department as early in their undergraduate studies as possible to determine if a secondary major is available and to receive appropriate advising.

A list of approved secondary majors can be found by click here

Individual departments that wish to participate should design their secondary major requirements in a manner that is comparable with those of their major program while compensating, as appropriate, for the fact that students working toward a secondary major might not have fulfilled all of the core requirements of the department’s college or school. A department should consult with its school’s or college’s Curriculum Committee as it crafts the requirements for its secondary major keeping in mind the core requirements for the other baccalaureate programs. Secondary major requirements should be stated in terms of major requirements (e.g., necessary international studies courses) plus “additional” requirements (e.g., demonstrated second year language proficiency). A department’s secondary major proposal will be approved through the normal divisional and university processes.

FAQs on Secondary Majors

1. Must a department offer a secondary major?

No. Although departments are invited and encouraged to submit proposals for secondary majors, participation is optional.

2. Is a distinct baccalaureate degree awarded for a secondary major?

No. A student earning a secondary major will receive only one baccalaureate degree from DU, and that degree will be associated with the student’s primary major.

3. What is the difference between a secondary major and a double major or second baccalaureate?

With a double major, a student earns two majors within the same baccalaureate degree program. A second baccalaureate involves fulfilling the requirements for two different baccalaureate degrees (e.g., Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science). The secondary major, on the other hand, allows a student to earn one baccalaureate degree together with a secondary major associated with a different degree program without fulfilling all of the core requirements associated with that second degree.

4. What is the difference between a secondary major and a minor?

Minors are generally available at DU, but require far fewer credits (typically only 20-24 hours) than a major. A secondary major will more closely mirror the requirements that a department has set forth for a major, which means that a secondary major requires a greater depth of study into the subject than a minor.

5. Is there a minimum number of hours required for a secondary major?

No. The expectation, however, is that a secondary major will conform to the major requirements currently in place within a department and the appropriate college or school. There might be subtle differences between the requirements of a major and a secondary major in a department due to the fact that students working toward a secondary major might not have fulfilled all of the core requirements of that department’s program. Some departments may consider including a few courses “in other areas” to compensate for such variations in basic core requirements.

6. Is there a limit to the number of hours that can be required in a secondary major?

There is no limit, but the number of hours for a secondary major is typically similar to the number of hours.

7. Are all secondary majors available to all students (given their primary degree program) or will there be limitations?

There are no limitations. All secondary majors are available to all students regardless of the degree they are pursuing. For example if Portuguese is made available as a secondary major, it will be available to all undergraduate degrees (e.g., BSBA, BS, BSEE, BFA).

8. Can courses "double count" toward both a minor (or major) and a secondary major?

No. In this respect, courses taken toward a secondary major are treated in the same way as courses taken toward a major. They are not allowed to double count.

9. Will students’ secondary majors appear on their Degree Audit (APR)?

No. The Degree Audit does not recognize secondary majors. Students should work closely with advisors to determine all requirements for secondary majors are met.

10. When will students be able to declare a secondary major?

Students may declare secondary majors as soon as the secondary major requirements have been approved and published.