I’ve always enjoyed learning about the great ancient civilizations, and Mac’s Combined Honours program allowed me to pursue this interest on two fronts: through study of the Classics and the study of archaeology. To qualify for a Combined Honours, a first year must fulfill the entry-level requirements of the fields in their desired Combined Honours; for me, this was Classics and Anthropology, but other combinations exist (ex. Classics and Business, Business and Anthropology, Business and Music, Music and History, Arts and Science, etc.). After first year, a Combined Honours student has the freedom to specialize their course selection in accordance with the respective requirements of each department.
The Combined Honours program provided me with many opportunities and a lot of freedom to choose a career path tailored to my personal wants and interests. One opportunity involved Mac’s Exchange Program – McMaster has dozens of partnerships with universities across the world and offers third years an incredible study abroad experience, which employers find particularly attractive. There are also multiple summer abroad opportunities that take place in the Mediterranean (Greece and Italy), usually worth 6 credits and full of enriching experiences.

Your Experience in the Program or University

My experience at Mac within the Combined Honours program has been a fulfilling one so far. The campus is compact and surrounded by both natural beauty and modern infrastructure. The Student Centre is the hub for many of the university’s services and offers a diverse range of culinary options. I think what I most enjoy about campus is its wide selection of areas to study, relax, and hang out with friends – campus is littered with cafes, libraries, and unique locations like the greenhouse, where food, quiet, and space to study with friends are always readily accessible. Buildings are also in quite close proximity to one another, which allowed me to explore the nooks and crannies of campus and find the places I was most comfortable to study/relax before, between, and after classes (the Health Sciences Library, Student Centre, and Burke Science Building are among my favourite).

Within my Combined Honours program, I am so grateful for the opportunity to explore options from both the Anthropology and Classics departments – I’m able to expand my educational options much more than I originally thought, and the requirements for both have created a balance which would have been difficult to achieve had they not been there or had the program been structured differently. I am very satisfied with the Combined Honours program so far, and I highly recommend the option to anyone with mixed interests.

Switching Programs in First Year and How to Become a Combined Honours Student

Angelica was Previously Enrolled in the Commerce Program at McMaster for 1 Year

Switching programs isn’t something to be afraid of, if you do it at the right time. First year is ideal, especially the first term of first year, because you’re able to salvage your second term and have the rest of the year to explore what program works best for you. I was initially accepted into the DeGroote School of Business and, frankly, was quite miserable because I had no interest and no motivation to study business. Within 3 weeks, I visited academic advisors at both the DeGroote and Humanities offices, switched programs, dropped out of and gained admission into new courses for second term, and officially became a Humanities student. The transition was actually quite seamless – it was too late to drop out of my first term courses, but early enough to choose new second term courses and plan ahead. Some of those plans involved the Combined Honours program – to be accepted into the program a first year student needs 2 things:

1. a certain grade point average (GPA)

2. completion of required courses

*it is important to note that requirements differ between disciplines; one must keep track of requirements for both disciplines in their specific Combined Honours (an example is provided below)*

The GPA differs depending on the disciplines in your Combined Honours (there are many combinations), but it’s usually a 5.0 or higher, including a grade of at least x in a course(s) mandatory to the program. For Combined Honours in Classics and Anthropology, a GPA of at least 5.0 and a grade of at least C in one of ANTHROP 1AA3 or 1AB3 are required for admission FOR THE ANTHROPOLOGY PORTION – for Classics, a GPA of at least 5.0 and a grade of at least C in three units of Level I Classics, Greek or Latin courses is required. A first year must fulfill ALL these requirements to gain admission into their desired Combined Honours program. It may seem like a lot of work, but once provided with the course lists for each discipline and a rigid set of requirements, picking courses is relatively easy.

Additionally, 30 units of any Level 1 (first year) program must be completed – essentially, complete 10 first year courses. These can be any courses, as long as they include the required Level 1 courses for each discipline (ex. Anthropology: ANTHROP 1AA3 or 1AB3, Classics: 3 units Level I Classics, Greek or Latin) and the overall GPA is 5.0 or higher. Apart from these requirements, first years are given a lot of freedom but also a lot of direction. And don’t forget to take advantage of Mac’s resources – the academic advisors helped me a lot, especially when switching programs and choosing my next steps.

There are many advantages to being a Combined Honours student, and though it may seem confusing at first, Mac’s website and academic advisors make the process quite clear.

What would you have changed if you could go back to apply in high school? What advice would you provide to students?

I initially enrolled at Mac for Business, ignoring my passion for ancient civilizations because those around me – friends, family, teachers, and guidance counsellors – regarded a Business education as much more practical and profitable than an education in the Humanities. However, I found myself struggling to be successful in a field that I had no interest in. About 3 weeks into first year, I switched to the Humanities and I can confidently say that it was the right decision. My academic standing improved, I was more enthused about my education, and I could start planning a career path that actually suited me instead of others. I would advise high school applicants to pay attention to what truly interests them – regardless of what others say, there IS a job that suits your interests. Also, use your resources! Academic advisors can help you customize an educational plan tailored to your interests/passions and profs are always available to answer your questions.

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