Moving from Two Degrees to Double Majors
In April 2008, the faculty approved the first curricular change to the undergraduate program as recommended by the 2006 Task Force on the Undergraduate Educational Commons: allowing undergraduate students to earn a Bachelor of Science (SB) degree with two majors.
Historically, pursuing two majors at MIT required a student to undertake a second SB degree which demanded 90 additional units beyond the requirements of the first degree. Under the new double major program, students can earn a single degree with two majors by completing the General Institute Requirements (GIRs) and the requirements of both majors. As part of the April decision, the faculty also voted to phase out the second SB program.
The Committee on the Undergraduate Program (CUP) developed the recommendation to the faculty based on input from both faculty and students, including the Committee on Curricula (CoC), Diana Henderson, dean for Curriculum and Faculty Support, and students from the Undergraduate Association. Based on these discussions, a consensus emerged concerning the intellectual and educational advantages of replacing the second SB program with double majors. The Committee concluded:
Because the SB with double majors will replace the current practice of awarding two SBs to MIT undergraduates, a transition plan has been crafted to benefit as many students as possible and to minimize any adverse impact on current students.
The Registrar’s Office is leading the transition plan in partnership with Information Services & Technology, Student Financial Services, Undergraduate Advising and Academic Programming, and the Office of Faculty Support. While the faculty decision mandated double majors be available for students graduating in 2010, the necessary policies, advising information, and systems will be in place for students graduating in September 2009 or later. At the same time, the second SB program will continue to be available to students who entered MIT during the 2007-08 academic year or earlier.
The basic guidelines for the double major are very similar to the current requirements for the second SB program, including the guidelines for completing the Communication Requirement.It will be critical for students to understand that completing each major program within the new system will remain as rigorous as it is now. [Click here for a brief comparison.] Detailed comparisons, eligibility requirements, and application deadlines for both the new double major program and the transitional second SB program are available at the CoC Website.
The CoC will begin accepting applications for double majors on Registration Day of spring 2009. During the fall term, we will communicate more details about the programs with students and faculty, including guidelines on how students can identify and assess the program that best matches their needs and educational goals. Our goal is to ensure well informed decisions can be made relative to pursuing a multidisciplinary educational plan.