Double minor now available in Weinberg

Alexandra Finkel

A new Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences policy will allow students to pursue up to two minors, with the total number of majors and minors not exceeding three. Previously, students were only able to complete one minor, said Mary Finn, the Weinberg associate dean for undergraduate academic affairs.

“It goes back to the ’90s,” Finn said. “There was a concern on the part of the faculty that students would spend all their time racking up majors rather than taking classes they were interested in.”

Students will now be able to work toward either one major and two minors, or two majors and one minor, she said.

“Given how many minors we’ve added to the curriculum we decided that maybe the old rule didn’t make sense,” she said.

The new policy is more fair, said Weinberg sophomore Lauren Hild.

“If someone is able to have two majors, which requires more classes and time, then someone should have the capability to have two minors,” she said.

Hild, an English literature major, was going to have to choose between the cross-genre writing minor and the Business Institutions minor.

“It’s good news for me because neither of the minors I wanted were available as majors, so I would have had to pick one,” she said. “This made it all easier.”

Weinberg’s most popular minor, the Business Institutions Program, may see a boost in enrollment, Program Director Mark Witte said. Currently, there are 659 BIP minors, although many students often enroll to preregister for BIP courses, he said.

“Some courses are extremely popular and hard to get into if you aren’t a declared minor,” he said. “If students are closed out of classes they need to take, we may need to add to our curriculum.”

The new policy will not only encourage students to explore more varied interests, but it will also help programs with low enrollment, Finn said.

“We imagine that for some smaller programs, like foreign language minors, it will help them because students won’t have to choose,” she said.

Prof. Licheng Gu, director of the Chinese Language and Culture minor, said the new rule will give students more freedom.

“It’s a great decision because it gives students more flexibility,” he said. “In the past, there have been several cases where students couldn’t minor in something like Chinese culture because they had another minor already.”

The Chinese Language and Culture minor currently has 40 students enrolled, and Gu said he hopes the new rule will increase enrollment.

But some program directors are doubtful.

S. Hollis Clayson, director of the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities, said she is unsure the new policy will encourage students to pursue a humanities minor. No students are currently enrolled right now, according to the Institute’s department assistant.

“That’s both a very congenial assessment and encouraging perspective,” Clayson said. “I hope (Finn’s) optimism bodes true. We haven’t had much interest in the program.”

If the new policy increases interest in minors across the board, it also may create challenges for larger programs, said Devora Grynspan, the director of International Program Development and assistant to the president for international programs.

The Global Health minor was created in 2004 and has grown to include about 285 students, Grynspan said.

“I worry that more minors would require us to hire more visiting professors to teach additional courses,” Grynspan said. “We’d like to do it because it extends the reach of global health, but it has budgetary implications.”

The Global Health program not only requires a certain number of courses, but students must go abroad as well. NU has international study programs in Mexico, China, France, Uganda and South Africa, and most are already full, she said.

“If the impact increases our own global health population too drastically, then we would have to see how to handle the demand,” she said. “We may have to create more programs abroad which requires more money.”

Weinberg freshman Jonathan Schwartz said the new rule will allow him to study what he’s interested in – without sacrificing degree requirements.

“There are two types of students who come to Northwestern,” he said. “Some have a pre-professional focus and know what their major is when they come in, and other students are less sure because there are so many different things they want to do. And I’m the second one.”

Schwartz, who said he hopes to major in political science and minor in BIP and film studies, said the double minor is an opportunity for exploration.

“It’s great because there comes a point where you can only take so many classes before you start worrying about your major,” he said.

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