“I’m pretty sure I’ve finished my required coursework for graduation,” Suzy says with a smile as she sits down for her advising appointment. “But I just thought I’d make sure.”

The advisor does a thorough check and confirms that Suzy has completed her major courses and her General Education requirements. Then the bad news: “But you are short the 120 credit requirement. To earn a bachelor’s degree, you need to complete at least 120 total credits. You need electives.” Okay, so now what?

For many students, elective credits are required to graduate with a bachelor’s degree. This is the case for most of the degrees in the College of Education and Human Development. See the end of this article for a breakdown of required electives for each major in our college.

So how can you make the most of your elective credits? Below are a few quick tips:

Declare a Minor or Certificate

If you have enough elective credits, you can declare a minor or certificate. A minor is usually between 20-25 credits. A certificate is around 15 credits. These extra credentials are a great way to strengthen your resume. For example:

  • Judy earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology at BYU-Idaho.
  • Jan earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a Minor in Therapeutic Recreation.

At first glance, and without more information, who would you hire? Exactly.

Consider Your Career

When planning elective courses, consider your career goals. Some electives may give you an occupational edge.

Have you declared Child Development with the hopes of working as a Parent Educator? Strong verbal and written communication skills will help you thrive. You might consider taking a course like COMM 175  Communication Essentials or ENG 316  Advanced Writing & Technical Communication.

Or maybe you are a Psychology major and you are interested in working closely with children. CHILD 210  Child Development may be just what you are looking for. (As a struggling father of five, I think I need to take that class.)

Fill in Your Skill Gaps

Where do you struggle? Don’t ignore your limits…address them!

Technologically challenged? How about CIT 110  Introduction to Excel or CS 101  Introduction to Programming. Do your legs turn to noodles and your mouth to sandpaper at the thought of speaking to a large audience? TA 123  Acting Ior ENG 253  Fundamentals of Research & Presentation is just what the  doctor advisor ordered.   

Diversify Your Portfolio

President Henry J. Eyring talked about the importance of his diverse academic learning in his Spring 2018 Devotional,  Preparing to Lead. When career options related to his major dimmed, he found other opportunities linked to his electives:

"Fortunately, I  had taken some valuable courses outside of my geology major. Thanks to a technical writing course and two elective literature courses, I was a confident writer. I also had a passion for history. Those interests and abilities made me a good candidate for law school. I enrolled in BYU’s J. Rueben Clark Law School and found success there, becoming a student editor of the law review." 

So when considering electives, take some courses that open more doors then the ones provided by your major. Nobody ever complained about too many open doors.

Get Planning

So that’s it! When planning elective credits, explore minors/certificates, consider your career, address skill gaps, and diversify your portfolio. Need more help? An advisor can assist you in finding elective courses that teach specific skills or complement your career goals. Contact our office at 208-496-9850 or log in to  I-Plan to schedule an appointment.

Majors in Our College Required Electives Credits
Child Development - Early Childhood 18
Child Development - General 26
Early Childhood Special Education 0
Elementary Education 0
FCS Apparel 21
FCS Education Composite 10
FCS Extension 27
Marriage & Family Studies 34
Professional Preschool Education 0
Psychology - General 31
Psychology - Health 31
Psychology - Industrial-Organizational 31
Social Work 2
Sociology 42
Special Education K-12 Generalist 0