If you complete the requirements of two majors, you will earn either a bachelor's degree with two majors ("double major") or two bachelor's degrees ("double degree"). Which of these you are awarded depends on the name of the degree(s).
Double Major Versus Double Degree
- You will earn a double major when both majors lead to the same degree name (e.g., B.A., B.S., B.F.A.), even if the two majors are in different colleges or schools. For example, if you complete the requirements for the B.A. degree with a major in American Ethnic Studies (College of Arts and Sciences) and the B.A. degree with a major in Architectural Studies (College of Built Environments), you will earn a single B.A. degree with a double major. You cannot earn a double degree when the two majors lead to the same degree name.
- You will earn a double degree when the two majors lead to differently-named degrees (e.g., B.A. vs. B.S.). For example, if you complete the requirements for the B.A. degree with a major in Geography and the B.S. degree with a major in Earth and Space Sciences, you will earn a double degree. Another example: if you complete the requirements for the B.A. in Business Administration degree and the B.A. degree with a major in Political Science, you will earn a double degree. Although these are both Bachelors of Arts, the Business Administration major is a named degree and so does not have the same degree name as the Political Science degree.
For more, see Degree Names below.
- Double majors require a minimum of 180 credits, which is the minimum number of credits required for a degree at the UW. It may, however, take you more than 180 credits to complete all of the requirements for the two majors, depending on the requirements themselves and how efficient you are in taking them.
- Double degrees require a minimum of 225 credits (i.e., 180 for the first degree plus 45 for the second degree). Technically, the rule is that you must complete 45 credits more than the number required for the degree that requires the fewer credits. Normally this means that two degrees require 225 credits, because at least one of the degrees almost always requires 180 credits.
Both majors of a double major must have the same degree name, and majors in a double degree must have different degree names. The easiest way to discern the degree name is to look for the word "degree" in the name. Everything to the left of the word "degree" is the degree name. For example:
- In "Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Communication", the degree name is "Bachelor of Arts." This major can be combined with any other "Bachelor of Arts" major to form a double major.
- In "Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration degree", the degree name is "Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration." This major cannot be part of a double major, but it could be part of a double degree. Degrees like this, with such specific names, are sometimes called named degrees.
Overlap Between Majors
Overlap between the core requirements of two majors is allowed to the extent that the major departments involved allow it. Consult departmental advisers.
Overlap with General Education/Areas of Knowledge
When both of your majors or degrees are in the same college, you must complete the general education requirements for that college.
When the majors/degrees are in different colleges, you have to complete both sets of requirements. However, in most pairs of general education requirements, one set is a subset of the other. To the extent that the requirements do not overlap, you must complete the requirements for both colleges. In many cases, the only difference will be the foreign language requirement in the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Education, and the School of Social Work.
As usual, if at least one of your majors/degrees is in the College of Arts and Sciences, you may count no more than 15 credits from one major department toward the Areas of Knowledge requirement. However, when you double major/degree, courses from the second major may count toward the Areas of Knowledge requirement without restriction. You choose which major is the one with only 15 credits of overlap allowed.
Declaring a Double Major or Double Degree
Both majors do not have to be declared at the same time, although they may be. Visit declaring a major for more information on this process.
Matriculation and Residence Requirements
To earn a single UW degree (single or double major), a student must complete at least 45 UW credits as a matriculated student. To earn two UW degrees, simultaneous or sequential, a student must complete at least 90 UW credits as a matriculated student.
A student earning two simultaneous UW degrees is allowed a maximum of 15 non-residence credits in the final 60 credits. In other words, 45 of the student's final 60 credits must be UW residence credits. The student is not allowed 15 non-residence credits for each degree. UW distance learning courses do not count as residence credit.
Doubling Within One Department
Double majoring in the same department is allowed only in multi-major departments. For example, a French major may double with Spanish, even though both majors are within the Romance Languages Department. Whether you are allowed to complete both the B.A. and B.S. programs in one department, such as Biology, either as a double major or a double degree, is a decision made by the department involved. In general it is not allowed, although some departments allow a student with an earlier B.A. to return as a postbaccalaureate student to complete a B.S.
Applying to Graduate
If you want to complete two majors or degrees, you should plan to graduate in the two programs simultaneously. If you graduate with one degree and not the other, you would have to apply for readmission to the University as a postbaccalaureate student to complete a second degree, and it is very difficult to be admitted as a postbaccalaureate student. Contact the Office of Admissions for more on postbaccalaureate status.
You'll need to work with both of your departments to apply to graduate since both of them need to submit a graduation application. This is the case regardless of whether it's a double major or a double degree. There is a place on the application for the adviser to indicate whether it's a double major or degree.
Double Degrees and the 180-credit Policy
Since a double degree requires a minimum of 225 credits, you may run afoul of the 180-credit rule. The registration hold associated with the 180-credit rule can be removed either by submitting a graduation application or a satisfactory progress petition.
Transcripts and Diplomas
A double major will read on the transcript, for example: "Bachelor of Arts (English; Political Science)" You will receive one diploma that says "Bachelor of Arts." In general, majors are not posted on diplomas.
A double degree will read, for example: "Bachelor of Arts (English)" and "Bachelor of Arts (Political Science)." You will receive two diplomas. In this case, because otherwise the two diplomas would be identical (i.e., they're both B.A.'s), the majors would be posted on the diplomas.
You may complete a double major or double degree in which just one of the majors is honors, and may use the Honors Core Curriculum requirements for both.
The honors major is identified on your transcript at graduation. In the case of a double major with English as the honors department, for example, the transcript will read, "Bachelor of Arts (English; Political Science), With Honors in English" or, "Bachelor of Arts (English; Political Science), With College Honors in English," depending on whether the student completes departmental honors or college honors. If the student completes the Honors Core Curriculum, but not Departmental Honors, s/he will earn Interdisciplinary Honors and the transcript will read, ""Bachelor of Arts (English; Political Science), With Interdisciplinary Honors"
Majors are listed on the diploma only if awarded with honors. The diploma for the student in the above example would read "Bachelor of Arts, With Honors in English" or "Bachelor of Arts, With College Honors in English."