How to study multiple interests at university

Minors, options, specializations, and more

With more than 100 programs at Waterloo, it can be hard to choose just one as your major. Fortunately, many programs offer the flexibility for you to customize your program.

A common way to combine your interests is to add a minor, which is 8-10 courses in a specific subject out of the 40 or so you need to earn a degree.

There are university-wide minors you can choose from and literally hundreds of major/minor combinations. So why not add something that makes you look good or complements your main course of study.

Use minors to broaden your interests

Minors don’t have to be related to your major. You can take something because you took that one course and fell in love with it. Or because you’re really good at it!

For example, you can combine subjects in the Faculties of Applied Health Sciences, Arts, Environment, Mathematics, and Science.

The ability to add a minor between faculties is a pretty awesome opportunity for students. The flexibility here at Waterloo is phenomenal!

Devon Hutchinson, academic advisor

Other ways to customize your degree

If you want to go deeper into your existing field, some programs offer options and specializations. These are sets of courses inside your major that let you dig deeper.

For instance, you could major in English and add a Digital Media Studies specialization or choose a Recreation major with the Tourism option.

The final and most intensive way to specialize is to do a double major or joint honours. Available in a number of programs, these allow you to really focus on 2 major subjects of interest (nearly all of your courses would be in your 2 majors).

What's the first step?

So once you’ve taken a couple of courses and know you want to add a minor, specialization, option, or double major, you have to declare it, usually at the end of first year. (FYI: You declare your major and minor so Waterloo knows what to put on your degree.) How do you do that? Easy!

“Your first stop would be the undergraduate office in your faculty,” says Devon. “That’s the first stop for doing anything about your degree.”

Then you just have to make sure you select the courses you need each year to meet the requirements. Your program advisor can help when you get to university and can definitely get you started.

And if you want to change your mind? Also easy (you know what I’m going to say): just go see your advisor. Fill out a form. And done.

So when you get to Waterloo, explore your options. Find something you’re passionate about, and look into ways to make degree as unique as you are!

 

When you add a minor, it shows potential employers that you have expertise and interests in more than one field.

sonia, Honours Arts and Business student

Learn more about tailoring your degree by checking out these other resources.

 

What do students say about their minors?

Matthew – Honours French, English minor

A minor distinguishes you from everyone else. It shows that you walked the extra mile to accomplish it, and it gives you better opportunities in your life.

You can follow multiple passions or something else that would be beneficial for you in the future.

Michelle – Honours Biology, double minor in Psychology and Human Nutrition

Michelle chatting with a fellow student over a laptopThe psych minor for sure I knew was going to help me become a Naturopathic Doctor (ND). But it was not until I completed my requirements for ND school that I thought, “I like this!” and kept going with it to earn a minor. The Human Nutrition minor? I was just really interested in it!

Turning your interests into a minor is totally cool. You also get to meet different people on campus. And in different faculties you can see a change between them, get to meet people outside of your social bubble, and explore different areas of campus.

Holly – Honours Psychology, Sociology minor

I chose Sociology as a minor because I wanted to learn about groups, not just individuals. And I'm really interested in criminology and I wanted to learn about it from both perspectives.

Sonia – Honours Arts and Business (Music major), Italian Studies minor

Student leaning against wall with backpack over her shoulderIt’s an uncommon combination, but I find it actually offers a lot of different skills that are quite useful, such as practice, perseverance, and problem solving.

For me, music is also a personal fascination that goes beyond just the grade that I'm receiving.

It’s something that I know I'll be able to remember and connect with in other parts of my life.


Questions about customizing your degree?

Learn about Waterloo's programs as well as minors available to all students.

If you have questions about combining areas of interest, just contact the recruitment co-ordinator for your faculty or program.