Opinion: CAS needs to offer more joint majors

Let me live my wannabe Gallatin dreams.


Aaliya Luthra

(Illustration by Aaliya Luthra)

Naisha Roy, Deputy Opinion Editor

From specializations to double majors, minors to concentrations and more, NYU has a ton of confusing terminology when it comes to defining what students are studying. In the midst of all of these possibilities, one option deserves more attention: the joint major.

A joint major is a combination of two separate fields of study, specifically in the College of Arts and Science. Unlike a double major, it doesn’t require students to complete the full course of study for both majors. Instead, students take about half the required courses — normally five 4-point courses — for each major and combine them into a single course of study. By offering more of these joint majors, CAS could give students additional flexibility in their education and further opportunity to explore different careers.

Currently, CAS offers 13 joint majors. These include combinations of several languages and linguistics, combinations of anthropology, classics and Hellenic studies, and combinations of data science, computer science, math and economics. It also offers five joint majors with Global Public Health. While this is a great start, these joint majors only cover a handful of the subject areas CAS offers. The College should create more joint majors from their over 60 areas of study or even allow students to create their own.

Joint majors have significant advantages over double majoring and minoring. They require fewer courses than double majors, but still provide students expertise in both areas. This frees up schedules for electives, minors or even another major. Students can also explore courses they’re interested in and count them towards joint majors, allowing them to focus on classes they would want to take, rather than working them into schedules as electives.

Minors typically require three or four courses, so it would be more worthwhile for students to complete the five courses required for half of a joint major. This is especially true if their major and minor are related. By taking the same number of courses in each, students can show an equally vested interest in both areas of study, while gaining experience in both fields.                                                                  

Joint majors replicate some of the flexibility offered by the Gallatin School of Individualized Study, but unlike Gallatin’s concentration requirements, joint majors don’t require students to develop a major from scratch. Instead, students enjoy the ease of picking from preexisting programs. They’re perfect for students who want to study multiple subjects without having to fully develop and justify a new concept.

Creating joint majors would encourage more interdepartmental cooperation within CAS and require minimal effort on behalf of the college. The programs and courses already exist; we just have to give students the option to combine more of them.

A joint major could also boost enrollment in departments with fewer students and offer students more resources. As someone double majoring in journalism with a joint major in Spanish and linguistics, having access to the faculty in each of these three departments gives me way more career and internship opportunities.

Some popular options for new joint majors could be politics and public policy, politics and international relations or neural science and psychology. Students tend to double major in these anyway due to their overlapping nature, but this means they often relearn similar material. By combining them into joint majors, students would have space to explore something different from what their primary course of study is.

It’s extremely difficult to commit to a major, even after a few years in college. Many students are reluctant to pigeonhole themselves into one subject area, and don’t have enough opportunities to explore another strong interest. By offering more joint majors, CAS would relieve underclassmen of this pressure and allow them to maximize the breadth of their education at NYU.

WSN’s Opinion section strives to publish ideas worth discussing. The views presented in the Opinion section are solely the views of the writer.

Contact Naisha Roy at [email protected].