breadth and depth in college studies

Posted : December 12, 2007
Last Updated : November 16, 2020

breadth and depth in college studies

In order to get as much as possible out of your college education and be the kind of person that employers want to hire, you need breadth and depth in your college studies. Breadth refers to studying a broad array of subjects and fields, while depth means having a deep understanding of your area of concentration.


Taking a wide variety of classes broadens your horizons and may help give you a better perspective of your own field of interest.

To achieve breadth, colleges require you to take a certain amount of credits outside the department or program of your major. With proper planning, you can integrate many of your breadth or elective courses into your major or minor, giving your overall education greater coherence. For example, if your area of concentration is marketing, you may benefit from taking courses in psychology in order to understand the consumer mind. Or if you know that your field of interest will require you to travel to certain countries, it would be in your best interest to take courses in foreign languages that are specific to those countries. Majoring in photography? You may find it valuable to pursue some marketing courses if you want to sell your pictures.

Of course, you don't have to use all of your elective credits on courses that could relate to your major. It's also good to branch out and take a couple courses that have nothing at all to do with your area of concentration. Doing so will make you a more all-around knowledgeable student and future employee.


Depth refers to understanding a specific field of study. The classes that you take for your major will reflect a continuous use of skills and knowledge. It's crucial that you master and understand each lower level course in your major since advanced learning in upper level courses will expand upon those courses. If you are having trouble in any of the courses in your program, it is especially important that you get help from your professor(s) so you don't fall behind.

To gain even more in-depth understanding of your major, consider getting an internship or part-time job in that field or join clubs or organizations on campus that are affiliated with your major. As you take more classes and become more involved in your major, you will gain the experience that employers look for in recent graduates.

If you need help choosing classes that could broaden your horizons or complement your chosen major, schedule an appointment with your advisor who can help you navigate through all the abundant choices. If you are still undecided about a major, be sure to visit the Career Services department on your campus to take a self-assessment test and explore different career options.

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