Secondary majors lets students mix and match coursework

By Daniel C. Houston
Staff Writer

Students wishing to earn an additional major offered outside their degree program may benefit from a new policy that allows them to do just that without having to complete the core requirements for a second degree.

Baylor’s secondary-majors policy allows all academic departments the option of offering its program to students from all of the university’s schools and colleges without requiring those students to change their bachelor’s degree or add a separate one.

The university has approved several departments whose chairs have applied to take advantage of the new policy, according to Dr. Edward Burger, professor of mathematics and vice provost for strategic educational initiatives. The majors included are mathematics, biology, classics, Greek, Latin, Spanish and journalism.

Paperwork has been submitted for the inclusion of philosophy and German majors, which are in the middle of the approval process, Burger said.

“Baylor should be a place that fosters the imagination of our students and makes it easier for individual students to craft their own individual education that captures their intellectual interests and passions,” Burger said.

Dr. Alden Smith, chair of the classics department and one of the first adopters of the policy, praised Burger’s work and said the policy will open up extensive liberal arts studies to science and business students.

“It allows students who are in the sciences but have an interest in the humanities to say, ‘Hey, I can still go get my degree in the sciences, but I can also pursue this other interest I have in language or literature or whatever the case may be,” Smith said.

Smith spoke highly about the effect this option could have on a Baylor education.

“It should allow students to get the best out of their education,” Smith said; “a broader, richer, more comprehensive education, not simply an education that’s limited by the technicalities of their catalogue, but one that transcends them,” Smith said.

One of the first students to take advantage of the opportunity to earn a secondary major will be The Woodlands junior Stephen Pickett, who is seeking a Bachelor of Business Administration in the Baylor Business Fellows program.

While he was previously seeking a minor in mathematics, it would not be reflected on his transcript upon graduation. Now he is pursuing a secondary major in mathematics, which will be reflected on his transcript.

“If I had to complete all the requirements of a [Bachelor of Science] in a math program, it would be impossible to complete in four years,” Pickett said. “It allows me to take more of the classes I want and to be more prepared for my future goals.”

Although Burger acknowledged the impetus for the policy came from his office, he said the council of deans, the university undergraduate curriculum committee, Faculty Senate, the department chairs and student leadership all had a hand in shaping the policy itself.

Students interested in adding a secondary major should consult with the academic department in which they are interested in studying, Burger said.