ThreeMajors
Credit: Morgan Rees

College and Wharton junior Jacob Stern started his freshman year studying business economics and public policy in Wharton, but soon realized he wanted to pursue a different path. Instead of transferring or switching majors, however, Stern decided to take on two additional majors in the College.

“I just became disenchanted with Wharton,” Stern said. “I wasn’t studying what I loved.” 

When he added on a College of Arts and Sciences degree, Stern decided to pursue his passion in both political science and philosophy in order to expand the breadth of his undergraduate education and to better prepare himself for his intended career path in legal academia.

In doing so, Stern became a part of the less than 0.5 percent of College students pursuing three majors, which Associate Dean of the College and Director of Academic Affairs Kent Peterman said was an "exceedingly small" number, in an email to the DP.

These students make up a small portion of the 25 percent of College undergraduates who graduate with more than one major. 

According to the Penn College website, the reason for the low number of students pursuing more than one major is that “most students find that studying one major from one school at Penn, and doing very well in that area, prepares them best for a first job or graduate school.” 

“Additionally, the College’s curriculum allows for the flexibility to study many unrelated areas, so students satisfy curiosities without having to take on additional majors or degrees simply to take classes that interest them,” the website says. 

Despite the range of content that his different majors cover, Stern said that he is confident he will utilize the various skills and knowledge that he has obtained as a triple major.

“I think I will absolutely be drawing from both of my degrees,” Stern said. “In addition to the actual substance of my studies, I’ve acquired different ways of thinking. I’ve become better at analyzing problems and critical thinking as a result of the individual majors.”

College junior Matt Osborn, a student in the Vagelos Scholars Program in Molecular Science, began his studies intending to major in biochemistry and physics, and only later decided to pursue biophysics as well during his sophomore year.  

After finding out how easy it would be to get the additional biophysics major, he jumped on the opportunity. 

“You only have to do one extra class to get the biophysics major and I wanted to take it anyways,” Osborn said. 

For College freshman Emily Yao, however, settling on just one major was not sufficient to satisfy her broad range of interests. 

Yao currently plans on completing both a communication major and a science, technology and societies major, in addition to two minors in fine arts and creative writing.

”I have absolutely no idea what I want to pursue after college," Yao said. "I am doing all these majors just because I am interested in each and every one."

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