Double Majors & Simultaneous Degrees

Overview

Pursuing double majors or simultaneous degrees can be a great way to fulfill your intellectual interests and gain depth in two academic disciplines. However, it is a significant commitment that should be considered and planned for carefully. This page will help you consider when planning a double major or simultaneous degree, as well as requirements and application steps.

Definitions

  • A double major refers to the declaration of two majors in the College of Letters & Science. 
  • A simultaneous degree refers to the declaration of two majors in different colleges at UC Berkeley. 

Double Majors and Simultaneous Degrees FAQs

Will a double major help me get a job or gain admission to graduate school?

A double major or simultaneous degree does not necessarily give you a competitive advantage for career opportunities or admission to graduate school after college. Many students make the assumption that engaging in more coursework will make them more impressive to employers or graduate programs. While this can be true in certain cases, most often, employers and graduate programs are interested in candidates that have a combination of skills, experiences, and qualifications that match the role or program. Many of the important transferable skills that employers and graduate programs value can be developed through participation in experiential learning opportunities such as leadership in student organizations, internships, public service, research, study abroad, volunteer work, and more. Committing yourself to a second major or degree can be a valuable experience, but if it impedes your ability to engage in these types of skill-building experiences, you may want to examine whether taking on an additional major is actually helping you achieve your goals.

If you’re motivated to pursue a second major or degree in order to gain a competitive advantage in the job market or for graduate school, it is important to do your research first to determine whether this will help you achieve your goals. Resources like the Career Counseling Library and advising at the Career Center can assist you with this.

What will I gain from a double major or simultaneous degree?

A double major or simultaneous degree allows students to explore two interests, especially interests in different areas. If you find yourself curious about two fields of study and two majors fit in with your academic plan without making sacrifices to hands-on learning experiences, a double major or simultaneous degree can be a great option. It can also be a way to explore an area you enjoy even when it is not aligned with any particular future goal.

A double major or simultaneous degree may support building transferable skills in multiple areas as well, but it is always valuable to consider whether a major, minor, or hands-on experience is the best way to gain the skill you’re interested in.

A double major or simultaneous degree can also be valuable if you are interested in researching or innovating at the intersection of two fields.

Keep in mind that while students are often attracted to adding a second major that is similar to their primary major, it is often adding a major that is significantly different than your first major that may make doing so more worth your time. For example, an employer may view the foundational skills from Psychology and Sociology as fairly similar, while the range of skills developed through a Psychology and Classics double major may be viewed as more broad. That is not to say that pursuing two similar majors does not have value--many students find great personal fulfillment through their double majors--but as the differences are more subtle, the value may be more personal or be more useful in the research field, where such nuances are better understood.

While the number of majors you have has not been shown to impact your competitive advantage for jobs, graduate school, or professional school, there are still great reasons to consider a double major. If a double major ever becomes an obstacle to your success, your goals, or if you lose interest in one major, then do not hesitate to focus on a single major.

Double Major/Simultaneous Degree Requirements

To be eligible to declare a double major, you must have:

  • Completed at least one semester at UC Berkeley (unless you are a transfer student that must declare a capped major in your first semester)
  • An overall GPA of 2.0 or higher
  • Approval from Undergraduate Major Advisers in each department
  • No more than two upper division courses overlapping between majors (meaning, no more than two upper division courses can count for both majors)
  • Applications for double majors and simultaneous degrees must be submitted prior to the first day of classes in the term in which you intend to graduate.

Completed petitions must include a program plan that demonstrates that you will be able to finish all degree requirements for both majors or colleges within nine semesters if you started as freshmen, or five semesters if you started as a junior transfer (counting enrollments in all institutions attended) or by the end of the semester in which you exceed 136 units. See the Unit Ceiling and Semester Limits page for more information.

Steps to Apply for a Double Major

  • Download the Double Major Petition
  • Meet with an Undergraduate Major Adviser* in each department to review/create a program plan and to complete the Double Major Petition.
  • If you have questions or concerns about your proposed program plan and/or completing all degree requirements within the unit ceiling, meet with an L&S College Adviser to review your petition.
  • Submit completed petition to L&S Advising at lspetitions@berkeley.edu.

Applications for double majors and simultaneous degrees must be submitted prior to the first day of classes in the term in which you intend to graduate.

*You can find Undergraduate Major Adviser contact information at the bottom of the applicable Advising Neighborhood page. 

Steps to Apply for Simultaneous Degrees

Applications for simultaneous degrees should be submitted at least two terms prior to graduation in order to meet residence requirements. Students may not declare a simultaneous degree in the semester they plan to graduate. 

Unit limits for double major/simultaneous degrees

Students declared in two majors or simultaneous degrees must finish all degree requirements within 9 semesters (counting enrollments in all institutions attended) or by the end of the semester in which they exceed 136 units. For more information, read about the Unit Ceiling

Can I drop my second major or simultaneous degree if I change my mind?

Yes. If you have declared a double major or simultaneous degree that you no longer wish to complete, meet with an L&S College Adviser to request this change to your academic plan. Dropping a double major or simultaneous degree may shift your semester limits and unit ceiling, so it is important to discuss how this may impact your timeline to finish your degree.