What’s your Subject Program of Study?
As an undergraduate student this is a question you will forever be asked by not only your Registrar’s Office, but your peers, professors, friends, and future employers. Your Subject Program of Study – commonly referred to as “POSt” – is perhaps the most important identifier you will hold as a University of Toronto student – I mean, why else are you in university if not to study something. For some choosing a Subject POSt is easy, they may know what they want to study and they may have known this their whole lives. For others it is not so simple and many students alter their POSt at some point in their undergraduate career. Seeing as how this is the time when our First Year readers will be preparing to officially declare a POSt for the first time, I thought it would be apt to discuss the topic – specifically what type of POSt may be optimal for you.
As you may or may not know, the typical Subject POSt comes in three varieties: the Specialist, the Double Major, and the Major with Minors. Students who are picking their POSt for the first time, or are perhaps contemplating a change, may be wondering what the advantages/disadvantages are in selecting one POSt type over another. I have often wondered the same thing and reached out to a couple university administrators for help. I sought advice from the wonderful Emanuel Melo, Associate Registrar at Victoria College who put me in contact with Magdalene Cheung, Assistant Faculty Registrar for the Faculty of Arts & Science. I would like to extend my gratitude to Mr. Melo and Ms. Cheung for lending their professional advisement to this post.
I would like to share with you Ms. Cheung’s response to the inquiry into the potential advantages/disadvantages in selecting one Subject POSt type as opposed to another:
“Students should keep in mind that not all units offer a specialist, major and minor option, so depending on which area(s) they’re interested in, they may not have a choice of all three combinations. For example, a student interested in Nutritional Science has only the option of completing the major and will have to choose a second major or two minors for his/her degree.
A specialist program may be ideal for a student who is very interested in one particular area and wish to take the majority of their courses in that one area. It may also be ideal for a student who plans to do graduate studies in the same or a related subject area (e.g. someone who plans to do a Masters degree in History may benefit from doing a large number of courses in History in their undergraduate degree). Specialists require 9 to 17 courses. Students who complete a specialist will gain thorough experience/knowledge in their subject – this may be beneficial in their future studies in graduate/professional school.
Specialist programs tend to be more challenging than majors and minors, as they require many advanced-level (300-/400-level) courses and sometimes the more difficult courses than their counterparts.
A double major may be ideal for a student who is interested in two different subject areas. Requiring 6-8 credits each, including at least 2.0 credits at an advanced-level (300- and 400-level), majors allow students to gain substantial understanding of the subject. Completing a double major may also be ideal for a student who wishes to go into teaching, which sometimes requires a minimum number of “teachable” subjects. Students who complete a double major must be careful about potential overlap in their programs, which must contain at least 12.0 different FCEs.
A major and two minors may be ideal for a student who is interested in a number of different areas. Minor programs, requiring 4.0 credits, provide students with a good background in the area of study. A student who excels in this combination of different programs would appear to be well-rounded, which may be looked at favourably by graduate/professional schools later on. Like the double major, students who complete a major and two minors must make sure they have 12.0 different FCEs between their programs.”
If you seek further clarification or guidance as to which Subject POSt is right for you I would advise that you contact your college or faculty registrar. During this time of the year many of these organizations are offering information sessions on the Subject POSt topic in addition to individual consultation. I know committing to a Subject POSt can seem like a daunting task so the more information about the options that are available to you the better!
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