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Double-Counting Frequently Asked Questions

Many courses offered at Northwestern fit more than one requirement. In some situations, a Weinberg student taking such a course can count it toward multiple requirements; in other situations, such “double-counting” is not allowed.

The Registrar's website provides a useful summary of Weinberg College double-counting rules for specific majors and minors.

Listed below are some common questions about double-counting. If you are confused about a rule or uncertain about how it applies to your own situation, contact your College Adviser.

Can I count a course toward the distribution requirements and also toward my major or minor?

Yes. A course used to satisfy a distribution requirement can also be counted toward requirements for a major or a minor.

Can I count a course toward two different majors?

The general rule is that Weinberg College students may not count a course toward two different majors—but there are three types of exceptions: 

a) The requirements for some majors include courses identified as “related courses” in the Undergraduate Catalog and on department websites. For example, linguistics majors must take 4 “related courses” from outside linguistics selected in consultation with the linguistics adviser. Art history majors must take 4 “related courses” from a specified list of departments and programs. Courses used as “related courses” for one major may also count toward a second major’s department or related courses. (Some science majors refer to the “related courses” as, instead, “foundation courses.”)

b) Three adjunct majors (majors that require the completion of another major too) allow a limited amount of double-counting: African Studies, International Studies, and Science in Human Culture. See the Undergraduate Catalog or your adviser for the adjunct major for details. (Prior to 2016-2017, Legal Studies was an adjunct major and allowed double counting. It was replaced by the stand-alone major in Legal Studies, and double-counting of program courses is no longer allowed. Similarly, prior to 2012-2013, Gender Studies was an adjunct major that allowed double counting. It was replaced by the stand-alone major in Gender and Sexuality Studies, which allows no double-counting except for "related courses.")

c) Five other interdisciplinary majors (Asian Studies; Cognitive Science; Comparative Literary Studies; Middle East and North African Studies; Neuroscience) allow a limited amount of double-counting. See the Undergraduate Catalog or your adviser for your interdisciplinary major for details.

What if one of my majors allows double-counting but my other major doesn't?

As long as one of your majors allows a course to double-count, then you can double-count it. 
Here’s another way to think of this: Some special adjunct or interdisciplinary majors (identified in 2b and 2c above, as well as in the Undergraduate Catalog) allow a student to waive a specified number of courses if the student takes these courses for another major. Courses that a student takes for one major and, as a consequence, doesn’t have to take for the other major, are said to be double-counted.

Can I count a course toward a major and also toward a minor?

The general rule is that Weinberg College students may not count a course toward both a major and a minor—but there are two types of exceptions: 

a) The requirements for some majors include courses identified as “related courses” in the Undergraduate Catalog and on department websites. For example, linguistics majors must take 4 “related courses” from outside linguistics selected in consultation with the linguistics adviser. Art history majors must take 4 “related courses” from a specified list of departments and programs. Courses used as “related courses” for a major may also count toward a minor. (Some science majors refer to the “related courses” as, instead, “foundation courses.”)

b) Four interdisciplinary Weinberg College minors allow limited double-counting of courses toward a major.

  • African Studies, Jewish Studies, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, and Science in Human Culture each require at least five courses that are not also counted toward a major. (All awarded "certificates" before the College offered minors, and they retained double-counting allowances already in place.)
  • The following minors once followed this “ex-certificate minor” rule, but have newer requirements that prohibit double-counting: Asian Studies, Business Institutions, Gender and Sexuality Studies (replacing the minor in Gender Studies), and Middle East and North African Studies (replacing the minor in Middle East Studies). Details on prior double-counting rules are in older editions of the Undergraduate Catalog; you may follow any set of requirements in effect during your years as an undergraduate at Northwestern.

Can I count a course toward two different minors?

No. A course counted toward one minor cannot be counted toward a second minor.

Can I count a "Related Course" for my major toward another major or toward a minor?

Yes. The requirements for some majors include courses identified as “related courses” in the Undergraduate Catalog and on department websites. Courses used as related courses for a major may also count toward a second major or toward a minor. (Some science majors refer to the “related courses” as, instead, “foundation courses.”)

I'm doing two majors (or a major and a minor or two minors) that both require a certain course. If I can't count the course toward both, what should I do?

See your major/minor advisers, and explain the situation. In most cases, one of them will approve a substitution for you. For example, you may be permitted to take a more advanced course instead or one that complements well the course you are counting toward your other program. In a few departments where higher-level courses build on earlier ones, an adviser may agree to waive a lower-level requirement for you; you will be permitted to complete the major or minor with one fewer course than is usually needed. An adviser who agrees to such a substitution or waiver should then notify the Registrar’s Office of this adjustment to your requirements.    

Similar substitutions (or, in some cases, waivers) may be approved in cases where a course is not required for both programs. For example, Psych 201 is required for a major in psychology and is among the courses that can count toward the methodology requirement for a minor in cognitive science. If you are majoring in psychology and minoring in cognitive science, then the cognitive science adviser may approve a different course as a substitute for Psych 201 or may allow you to take one fewer course from the methodology category and one more than is typically required from the elective category within the minor. The adviser should then notify the Registrar’s Office of this approved substitution.

I'm doing two majors and a minor (or three majors or a major and two minors). Can I count a course toward all three of these programs?

Yes, as long as what you are doing fits all of the restrictions stated above, you can count a course toward three programs. For example, if you are majoring in both economics and psychology and minoring in math, you can count math courses used toward your math minor as related courses in both economics and psychology.  

I'm completing a certificate. Can I count courses required for the certificate toward my major, my minor, or distribution requirements?

Guidelines on certificates issued by Northwestern’s Office of the Provost state that "a certificate requires academic course work of at least four units that are not applied to a major or minor." Individual certificate programs may set more stringent rules.

Courses that are used as prerequisites for certificates (for example, social science courses included in the prerequisite course list for Medill’s certificate in integrated marketing communications) can also be counted toward a Weinberg major or minor.

I'm completing a concentration in music. Can I count concentration courses toward my major, my minor, or distribution requirements?

A course counted toward a concentration may not be used to fulfill requirements for any Weinberg College major or minor, except that a student may double-count a concentration course as a related course for a major at the discretion of the department or program offering the major. (Note: When this document was last updated, the only concentration available to Weinberg students was a Concentration in Music offered through the Bienen School of Music. However, the double-counting restrictions were approved more generally to apply to any concentration available to students in Weinberg.) Concentration courses can be double-counted toward distribution requirements. For example, if you count Musicol 335 toward a concentration in music, you can also count it toward your distribution requirements in Area VI—Literature and Fine Arts.

What about study abroad credits? Can I count a course I took abroad toward more than one requirement?

Study abroad courses are subject to all the double-counting rules listed above. If you hope to count a study abroad course toward more than one requirement (e.g., two majors or a major and a distribution requirement), you should list that course in all relevant sections of your Petition for Credit from Study Abroad and should tell all relevant advisers that you hope to double-count it. It will facilitate the articulation process if you complete one single petition form for all your majors and/or minors.

Each course you take abroad can be counted as only one specific Northwestern course. For example, if you took a British history course at University College London, you could petition to have that course count toward a history major, an international studies major, and an Area IV distribution requirement. That course, however, could only be given a single designation, e.g., History 3XX.

I'm not in Weinberg College, but I'm doing a Weinberg major or minor. How do these rules affect me?

Students in Northwestern’s other undergraduate schools should be sure to check with advisers in their home schools regarding relevant double-counting policies. Some key considerations are presented below. Additional information on double-counting for non-Weinberg students is on the Registrar's website.

  • Courses counted toward Weinberg majors and minors can generally be counted toward distribution requirements in other schools that have such requirements. In some cases, the other school may restrict such double-counting. Students in the School of Communication should refer to the description of their major in the Undergraduate Catalog for relevant restrictions. 
  • Students in Northwestern’s School of Education and Social Policy (SESP) can double-count a maximum of three SESP concentration/core courses toward a Weinberg stand-alone major, a maximum of two SESP concentration/core courses toward a Weinberg adjunct major, and a maximum of two SESP concentration/core courses toward a Weinberg minor.
  • Students in the McCormick School can count courses toward both their Social Science/Humanities distribution requirements and those of a Weinberg major or minor.
  • Students in the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications who are also completing a major or minor in Weinberg College are subject to several Medill School rules. Such students should be sure to consult with their Medill adviser. 
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