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Stevenson implements double majors

Students getting their work done in the Manning Academic Center learning commons. (villagerfilephoto)
Students getting their work done in the Manning Academic Center learning commons. (villagerfilephoto)

Stevenson has taken a big step into expanding its academic repertoire by allowing students the option of double major degrees as of the 2018 fall semester.

Dr. Laura Smith. (Photo from

Stevenson has made it possible for students to complete two majors within the standard four years. Many colleges are providing this opportunity to help young adults become flexible and versatile, and prepared for the ever-changing job market.

Previously, the only comparable option was a ‘double degree,’ which meant adding an additional full year of schooling.

Dr. Laura Smith, the chair of English department, played a large role in implementing double majors into the Stevenson curriculum.

“We built it because there was student interest,” said Smith. “Also, we could tell it was a reason that prospective students weren’t coming here or felt like Stevenson wasn’t the right fit for them.”

Double majors took a while to build. In order to figure out the logistics of fitting all the required credits into four years, the department chairs had to go through a process of “‘how can we make this work?’” said Smith.

It took a lot of negotiations and team work, she added. A new, individual eight-semester plan is created for each student according to the focus. “Every single program has to be built from scratch,” said Smith.

Junior English and biology major Kailyn Pater is combining the two majors to become a diabetes educator. (Photo from Kailyn Pater)

Both majors would have to make sacrifices in order to fit all requirements into four years. For example, double major students are not expected to complete two internships in order to graduate; they are required to have only one.

One of the first students to take advantage of this opportunity is junior Kailyn Pater, who is studying English and biology.

Pater was already planning on taking biology classes to fill prerequisite requirements for medical school, so when Stevenson implemented the double major program during her sophomore year, she thought, “Why not just get a degree in biology instead?”

The transition was easy for Pater. “Both departments were really helpful in creating a schedule where it was easy to fit in what I needed,” said Pater. “They set everything up for me so that I could succeed and get my degree.”

Double majoring makes it easy to combine passions and personalize learning. It is also helpful to students like Pater who already have career goals in mind.

“I want to work as a diabetes educator,” said Pater, “working with newly diagnosed families and helping them adjust to life with diabetes.”

Majoring in two disciplines also allows “students to bring together diverse interests and double what they are leaving here with,” said Smith. “There’s just no downside to that.”

Knowing they have the ability to graduate with a double major and be a diverse, flexible applicant gives students peace of mind.

Registrar Tracy Bolt said that “there is nothing negative at all about doing a double major. The goal is to make students more employable and more attractive for grad school.” Bolt added that both majors will show up on the transcript and the diploma.

Those interested in double majoring, Bolt said, should visit the SU Now Portal and locate the registrar information page. Under the double major tab, there is a list of already approved double majors and their corresponding grids.

It is important to note that, while there is a lot of flexibility with setting up a plan for double majoring, there are some majors with such a large number of required credits, such as nursing or education, that makes double majoring extremely difficult or even impossible.

Students are not limited to the combinations that are listed on this website. Those interested but have something else in mind, Bolt suggests, should speak to their academic advisor or student-success coach.

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Stevenson implements double majors