man examining book in the library

When I tell people that I’m pursuing a double major, I’m usually met with a lot of questions. Students often ask how I decided to double major and what I’m planning to do with it. However, the most common questions I receive are logistical questions about double majoring. A lot of students want to pursue a double major, but don’t understand how to do it. As a result of this, students often believe misconceptions about double majoring. If this applies to you, don’t worry! Here I’ve listed some of the most common double major myths, and the truth about double majoring at NYU!

1. Double Major Means Double the Work

One of the most common double major myths is “How do you handle all the extra work?” Students often believe that pursuing a double major means they will be completing more work than the average student. However, I don’t take any extra classes each semester. In fact, my busiest semesters were in my first year of college, before I was a double major. It’s easy to see where this misconception comes from.

“Double” means two, so it only makes sense that you’ll be doing twice the work right? Wrong.

To understand why this is a myth you’ll need to first understand how college majors work. If you’d like, you can check out this article where I explain college majors in more detail. There are three types of credits you need to complete your degree: major credits, general education credits, and elective credits. When you double major, you only add more major credits to your course load. You don’t have to complete any extra general education or elective credits for your second major. Additionally, you can use your elective credits, and sometimes your general education credits, to count towards your second major. If you do this you probably won’t have to take any extra classes to fulfill your second major.

Double Major Graphic

Here is a diagram that shows how my double major works. As you can see most of my psychology classes are fulfilled with my general education and elective credits, so I’m not doing any extra work. If I wasn’t pursuing a double major I would’ve taken the same amount of credits in many different subject areas.

2. It’s More Expensive to Double Major

The second most common double major myth I hear is that “It costs more to double major.” This misconception is an extension of the first double major myth. People assume that double majoring requires students to take extra classes, so they also have to pay for those extra credits. However, as we have already established, students don’t need to take extra classes to double major at NYU. 

This means that most students won't pay an extra cent to double major!

However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. If students are in a five year dual degree program like the Stern-Tisch B.S., B.F.A program, they will have to pay for the extra year at NYU. Some other reasons that a student may pay more to double major are that they didn’t adequately plan out their schedules, or they started their double major after their second year. In both of these cases, the student will be responsible for paying for the overload semester, summer, or j-term classes they need to fulfill the extra credits. The good news is that this is an avoidable situation. If you’re interested in double majoring, talk to your adviser right away! Your adviser will help you plan a schedule where you don’t have to take extra classes.

Two students studying in a library.

3. You Can Double Major in Any Two Programs at NYU

Students will often ask if you can double major across schools at NYU. The answer is yes and no. While it is possible to have two majors in two different schools at NYU, the second major has to be in the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS). This means that if you’re interested in cross-school double majoring, you need to apply to the program that is not in CAS. 

Since I started out as a Film and TV major, I could add a Psychology major because Psychology is in CAS. However, I could not have started as a Psychology major then joined Film and TV, because my second major would be Tisch. I also looked into both of NYU’s psychology programs when I was considering my double major, Psychology in CAS and Applied Psychology in Steinhardt. However, I quickly realized that I could only double major in the CAS program because of this rule.

So what do you do if you’re interested in two different fields of study, but one of them is not offered in CAS? Again there are a few exceptions to this rule like the Stern-Tisch B.S., B.F.A program, so first check if NYU offers a special program with your two desired fields of study.

two students looking into camera viewfinder
student playing with children

If there is no specific program, the good news is that you can still study two different subjects at NYU without a double major. You can create your own major in the Gallatin School of Individualized Study if you want to combine the fields of study! But if you want to keep them separate you can pick up a minor in any school at NYU. There are also a few minors that combine several fields of study. Interested in business and the creative arts? Try the Business of Entertainment, Media, and Technology (BEMT) minor! How about child development and applied psychology? The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Studies (CAMS) minor might be for you!

Student speaking to advisor about double major

Regardless of the specific path you choose to pursue, I hope this article got you interested in exploring different subjects at NYU and helped dispel some of the double major myths you may have believed. If you want to pursue a double major or a cross-school minor, reach out to your adviser or visit the academic resource center to speak to a cross-school adviser!

Zani is an Assistant Director of Admissions for NYU Abu Dhabi and the Global Admissions team, based in New York. She is also a NYU Tisch alumna, former RA and Admissions Ambassador. She is a travel enthusiast and vegan foodie. In her free time you can catch her directing independent documentary films.