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What are parallel plans?

Parallel plans are a way of making progress in two different majors of interest, so that if one doesn’t work out, you haven’t fallen behind. In a parallel plan, you value both majors that you’re pursuing. These are not backup plans, which are there to pursue after your initial plan falls through. Pursuing a parallel plan keeps you on track in case it needs to become your main plan.

For example, if your main plan is to pursue a BSN in Nursing, and your parallel plan is to major in Kinesiology, you could strategically choose Gen Ed classes that would count for both majors. In Cluster 5 Wellness, the Kinesiology major recommends that you take KIN 100, and Nursing does not have a recommendation in this cluster, so KIN 100 would be the best class to take. In Cluster 3 Physical, Kinesiology would like for you to take CHEM 131 and 132, while Nursing would like for you to take CHEM 120. Some departments will accept course substitutions and some will not. So in this case it would be best to talk with your advisors in each major about the best class to take in light of what both majors prefer and whether substitutions are accepted.

Who needs a parallel plan?

Not everyone needs a parallel plan. Parallel plans can be helpful if you are pursuing a major with special entrance requirements or one that admits a select number of students. See the Major Snapshots website for more information on majors’ entrance requirements. If you are considering Business programs or Nursing, you could benefit from a parallel plan, since you won’t know whether you are in those programs or not until sophomore year or later.

If you are planning to attend graduate or professional school after graduation, you may also want to consider a parallel plan. It might be beneficial for you to pursue your parallel plan major since many professional and graduate programs do not require specific undergraduate majors and often prefer a variety of applicants.

For example, if your career goal is to go to medical school and become a doctor, and your parallel plan is to be a graphic designer, you might consider majoring in graphic design and declaring a pre-medicine professional health track with it. That way you could still pursue either career path.

What does a parallel plan look like?

Parallel plans are based on your individual needs and goals, so they will differ for everyone. You can pursue a parallel plan as a second major or sometimes as a minor. You also might be able to take the required classes for one major of interest without declaring anything, depending on how the courses are set up in MyMadison.

It would be wise to meet all declaration and application deadlines for both majors that are part of your parallel plan, so that both majors remain viable options. That way you can continue with required coursework in either program. Almost all majors have at least one pre-requisite class you would need to complete before taking any other major classes, so that can be a good course to take in both majors you are considering. Otherwise, it could delay your progress.

How do I choose a parallel plan?

You can speak with your academic advisor and meet with a Career and Academic Advisor here in CAP as well to explore different options. Once you have chosen a plan, work with your academic advisors on choosing the right classes to keep you on track for your parallel plan. 

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