Double majors at Fairfield expect to be recognized for the increased workload, but may be surprised when their diploma only lists one degree.
“I thought about majoring in English and business, but only for two different degrees,” said Caitlin Ledwith ’07. “I think students who have two majors in two different schools should be given two degrees because otherwise they have to choose whether they want a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science.”
According to University Registrar Robert Russo, when students double major in arts and/or a science, they do not receive two degrees because they only complete one set of core and elective requirements.
Russo says a bachelor’s degree in either arts or science requires a minimum of 120 credits. In order to receive two degrees, a student would need 240 credits. Fairfield is licensed by the state to award degrees and follow guidelines that have been set up.
“Students who elect a second major or minor use some of their core and electives to complete these requirements, but at the end it is one degree,” said Russo.
Most students at Fairfield who obtain two majors combine and link courses in order to fulfill all requirements and often graduate without taking extra credits on.
According to Associate Academic Vice President Mary Frances Malone, Fairfield does not offer a double degree and neither does any private institution in Connecticut. However, Fairfield is flexible with letting their students acquire different majors and minors. Some institutions like Georgetown University do not let their college students obtain minors from the business school.
Russo says all students have a “major one”, and some students have a “major two”. Students who major in both arts and science must choose which major is primary and which school shows up on their diplomas. This choice determines where students sit at graduation as well.
“Some people confuse a major with a degree, but they are different,” said Russo.
Majors require a minimum of 30 credits and are not listed on students’ diplomas, according to Malone. Transcripts are students’ official record of this information and graduate schools and employers request them and not diplomas. Diplomas are simply recognition of their completion of either a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science.
“The transcript has all the information the student wants to convey to the outside world and it is the transcript which is sent, and the diploma which is framed and placed on the wall,” said Academic Vice President Orin Grossman.
But some students feel their diploma is more than a wall decoration. “It makes me feel like I’m wasting my time here at Fairfield,” said Theresa Bruzese ’06, an English and politics double major. “I’m using my time efficiently and working super hard to double major, but it seems like there’s no payoff. It discourages hard work.”
However, Grossman says if a student graduates, later decides she wants to become a nurse and comes back to the university, she will receive a second degree from Fairfield. Otherwise, a student who fulfills the requirements for two majors in a normal four-year education receives one diploma and degree.
“I actually have two degrees: A B.A. in psychology and a B.S. in mathematics,” said Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Timothy Snyder. “At no point have I found that having two degrees offers me opportunities that I might have had with just one degree.”
Snyder said obtaining a degree from any of Fairfield’s schools is what companies are looking for and what is listed on a student’s degree does not carry the primary importance they may deem it to.
“Rest assured, most employers, especially those in the business world, are seeking students who can communicate, in writing and orally; can frame, approach and solve complex problems; can continue to learn on their own; can work in teams; can process information; and can be ethical, honest and responsible. A student can assemble and demonstrate those qualities in any major we offer,” said Snyder.