Earlier this month, Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences overwhelmingly approved a proposal allowing College undergraduates to pursue double concentrations starting next fall.
Currently, undergraduates who wish to study two disciplines must either pursue a joint concentration, which requires writing a thesis combining both subjects, or add a secondary field, which has fewer requirements and less administrative support.
Under the plan, students pursuing a double concentration may double count up to eight credits — generally two courses — across the two plans of study. According to Harvard spokesperson Alixandra A. Nozzolillo, the double-count limitation means that students may not concurrently pursue two concentrations that have significantly overlapping coursework.
More information on double concentrations will be forthcoming in the 2022-2023 College Handbook, she added.
Many students welcome the new option, saying it may affect their chosen course of study.
Jonathan Y. Fu ’25 said he is now considering pursuing a double concentration in Physics and Classics.
“It seems like something Harvard should have done a while ago, but I’m happy that they got it done this year,” he said.
Before the double concentrations plan was passed, Fu said he was most likely going to concentrate in Physics with a secondary in Classics, since combining the two fields in a joint thesis “would be pretty difficult.”
Glen Liu ’25 said he thinks many people who were considering a joint concentration did so because it was the only option for them if they were interested in two different fields.
“I think that a significant portion of people who are planning to or originally planned to do a joint concentration will do a double concentration,” he said.
Paul Yang ’25 said he is considering concentrating in both Computer Science and either Mechanical or Electrical Engineering. He formerly considered pursuing a secondary in Computer Science but said he prefers being able to explore more courses with a double concentration.
“With a secondary you only take four classes, so you’re not getting that much of an experience in CS,” he said. “There are so many CS courses at Harvard, and it’s so difficult to find the four that you’re really interested in.”
On the other hand, Yang said he would need more information about how the College would count his credits when the two concentrations have more than two overlapping required courses.
“CS and Engineering, both of those course loads are very similar in terms of the classes that you need to take,” he said. “I’m just curious how that’s going to balance out or how that’s going to affect the concentrations.”
Nonetheless, Yang said he counted himself “lucky” because as a freshman, he has space left in his schedule to accommodate a potential double concentration.
Dora Ivkovich ’24, on the other hand, said she believes it would be infeasible for her as a sophomore to now change her course of study to a double concentration in Mathematics and Economics.
“Given that we’ve already done four semesters, unless I did three math classes for one or two semesters, it’s just not doable, honestly,” Ivkovich said.
Eric A. Forteza ’24, who declared a joint concentration in Government and History, said he would have considered a double concentration more seriously if the option were available to him as a freshman.
“I think I would have taken a more equal balance of History and Government because right now, I’ve taken more Government classes than History,” he said.
Forteza added that for him, pursuing a double concentration now would restrict the number of electives he would be able to fit into his schedule.
“With the double concentration, I would have had to take 23 classes, and I would just have had no time to take any other electives,” he said.
—Staff writer Ariel H. Kim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Staff writer Meimei Xu can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @MeimeiXu7.