What International Students Should Know About Multiple Majors

Take advantage of summer programs and get input from faculty and fellow students when pursuing more than one college major.


International students bent on having more than one major should draft a four-year academic calendar and review it frequently to stay on track. 

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When I began applying to various colleges in the U.S. as an international student, I had no idea about the curriculum I wanted to pursue. Since I had taken a bunch of business classes in high school I figured I would major in economics. But I never expected I would pursue a triple major.

I am a triple major in accounting, finance and economics. Accounting is a five-year program at Drury University but I will be completing it in four. There were three important steps I took to make this possible: taking on summer school, making a four-year plan and having the support of various faculty, staff and upperclass students.

Majoring in more than one subject is very common for students at U.S. universities, and the following steps can help international students make the process possible.

[Get more tips on managing a double major.]

1. Taking on summer school: Taking extra courses might sound like a really boring way to spend the summer, but it can definitely save money and time. Being a business major has made me realize the economic model of opportunity cost and I have been trying to apply that in my day-to-day life.

Summer classes allow you to graduate early, as at many schools, you could take additional credit hours –  and they can be cheaper than classes during the semester. Along with that, international students can save a couple of thousand dollars in traveling costs to get home and back. 

Various colleges offer the option of online classes and if I do go home for the summer, there is always that alternative. The other reason why I opted to stay at school instead of going back home for the summer is because I got an opportunity to work full time on campus for the admissions office during the break.

If you are not a full-time student during the summer, you may be able to work full time. Staying in the U.S. during the summer was actually a huge advantage for me as I was able to both work and take classes.

While that job did not count toward my credits, international students could seek an opportunity to do an internship, which could possibly count as a class. 

[Learn how to choose and declare a U.S. college major.] 

2. Making a four-year plan: It is crucial to make a four-year plan if you are trying to major in more than one subject. The day I figured out that I could actually do the accounting program in four years I was fully determined to stick with it.

Finance and economics are my other two majors and they tend to overlap since they are in the business school. 

You can never be completely certain that your plan will stay the same; there could always be changes. But to ensure you stay on track, keep an eye on your plan on a daily basis.

[Avoid the mistakes international students make in picking a major.]

3. Having support of faculty, staff and students: It is really hard for me to say where I would have been without the support of some amazing people. It was my resident assistant – an adviser, usually an upperclass student, who lives in the student residence as a resource for other students – who helped me figure out my classes. She was already a part of the business school program.

She helped me get to know more about the accounting program by mentioning various upperclassmen along with faculty and professors who were a part of the program. I took some time to meet with them, and since then they have guided me in the right direction.

Research is important for every international student looking to pursue multiple majors. The more research and planning an individual does, the more he or she will get out of it.