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humanities grad school without a humanities major?


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I'm a sophomore double majoring in literature and a social science. I'm doing well in both.


My true passion (and, to be real, my real aptitude) lies in literary analysis, though I ended up majoring in it accidentally. I took a couple literary theory/graduate classes in literature, and I'm liking it more and more, to the extent that I've considered grad school (lay your Pannapacker article link aside, please). However, I'm loathe to drop my social science major because I'm quite good at that too (just not breathtakingly good), plus I have very real employment prospects in it through family connections/it being a highly employable major. And lately I've been thinking whether I need the humanities major at all.

You see, my literature department's major requirements are more strenuous than any other department's at the school in terms of number of credits, plus you can't include your thesis towards the credit requirement (which my advisor and I have been discussing since my freshman year; for which I am even doing this major). I'm overloading every semester already, and I've counted that double-majoring in this combination with leave me with two classes that I can take that don't count towards either of my majors. I don't want to take that compromise, especially since doing grad school in the social science is likely to provide me with well-salaried employment.


My question is, given that I have coursework at the advanced undergraduate/graduate level in the humanities, strong relationships with professors, and provided that I can take another literature class or two to generate a writing sample, will grad schools look unfavourably upon my lack of a relevant major?

Edited by galateaencore
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If you have the equivalent of a major, complete with thesis, but not technically a major, it shouldn't hurt you at all. Admissions committees will just want to see that you have demonstrated aptitude for and basic knowledge of the field. Not everyone in English grad school majored in English.

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^ Exactly.

 

The concern of committees (for any student) is whether or not an application demonstrates sufficient preparation for English graduate study. Your transcript will show that and as long as your statement and sample show that as well, your major shouldn't be a problem.

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I am a little confused...if your goal is graduate school in literature, wouldn't it make more sense to drop the social science major instead, even if you are good at it?  Or do you want it for back-up in case an academic career in lit doesn't work out? Or are you not sure yet if humanities grad school is for you?

 

If you are set on grad school in literature, I would drop the other major and focus on literature coursework.  Having the actual major won't matter that much, but the stronger your background the better.  The exception is if you can tie your other major to your literature interests.  Just my opinion.  I am an English major, but even I wish I had taken more English classes throughout undergrad because I feel under prepared in several areas.  

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Thank you for your input, you've answered my question. I was wondering whether there were options, rather than the optimum path to a goal which I don't yet have.

 

No, I'm not sure about humanities grad school, and my other major is a backup, yes. 

Edited by galateaencore
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I was an english / psych double and had a similar super tight / busy schedule, two theses, etc, but it was definitely worth it. Considering I am interested in cog narrative theory and reader response, it has also been a major asset for grad school. Maybe consider keeping the double major, because, as you said, grad school for social sciences is much more likely to produce a job, but holding to the lit research as well opens a lot of doors in terms of interdisciplinary work and making you an attractive candidate both on paper and via breadth and depth of field.

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If you are not sure about your future career path, I would suggest (if it will not be too crushingly expensive) staying in school for an extra semester.  That course of action will allow you to complete both majors and take a few extra non-major-realted courses.  Also, you will have time in the spring after college to get an internship/job/whatever else that looks good to AdComms or future employers and/or that will give you a jump start on finding a job in case you need more than one application cycle to get into a grad program of your choosing and scrape up some money before your not-so-well paid grad school days.

 

It is true that AdComms do not discriminate against non-majors who are otherwise qualified for their programs.  However, it may be worth asking whether your recommenders will be put off by writing a letter for a non-major.  I imagine that most recommenders would be cool with writing letters for a non-major who did good work, but others could interpret a refusal to major in their subject as a lack of dedication.

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you're lucky, davidm, that cogpsych approaches to literature are really hot right now:) unfortunately, my social-science colleagues would probably burn all humanities professors at the stake. glad to see that an interdisciplinary approach has helped you, though - I was considering sticking it out for this reason, but idk.

 

@blakeblake my school requires everyone to graduate in four years, so no dice. I'll keep taking extra classes each semester, and if everything works out, I'll be really tired, but I'll have one semester where (thesis permitting) I will be able to take non-major classes.

Edited by galateaencore
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