If you are in class 10th, then it’s that time of the year where you are constantly being reminded by your school and parents to submit your preference for stream selection for class 11th. Some of you would have already made up your minds, but an important step in selecting the right stream is choosing the right subject combination to open up the right career opportunities for you in the future.
Whether you want to become an architect, lawyer, or graphic designer, the subjects that you select after class 10th will play a critical role in determining your career options after class 12th. Your optional or 5th subject not only helps you explore two or more fields together but also helps you keep a backup plan. For e.g., students often combine Psychology with Biology to keep their options open in the field of Psychology in case they are unable to crack NEET.
Therefore, your optional subject should be selected after a lot of deliberation.
So, to help you make your choice, let’s look at each of the subjects separately, and the benefits of their combination with each stream: Science, Commerce, and Humanities.
Please note- This article focuses only on CBSE and ICSE board curriculums. Learn more about the subject combinations offered in IB and Cambridge boards.
Recommended Read: Streams in Class 11 CBSE: A Detailed Look Into All 3 Options
Optional Subjects with Each Stream in CBSE
Let’s first take a look at the most common additional subjects offered with each of the streams. Note that I am covering the most commonly offered subjects across most schools, and this list is not exhaustive.
Optional Subjects with PCB (Medical Stream)
- Home Science
- Fine Arts
- Physical Education
Optional Subjects with PCM (Non-Medical Stream)
- Computer Science
- Home Science
- Fine Arts
- Physical Education
Optional Subjects with Commerce Stream
- Informatics Practices
- Fine Arts
- Physical Education
- Legal Studies
Optional Subjects with Humanities Stream
- Home Science
- Legal Studies
- Fine Arts
- Physical Education
- Media Studies
Recommended Read: Every Question About Opting for a 6th Subject in Class 11th, Answered
Now let us learn about them in detail.
Psychology is the study of human mind and behaviour. As a subject option, it opens up many exciting career opportunities and fits well with all 4 of the streams. Taking up Psychology paves your path to work across diverse areas such as Schools, Hospitals, Counselling Centres, NGOs, Organizations/MNCs, etc. Since it is the study of humans, it is a subject that has applications in virtually all fields. Consequently, there are many applied fields of Psychology today, such as Aviation Psychology, Sports Psychology, Behavioural Economics, Engineering Psychology, Consumer Psychology, Forensic Psychology, etc.
Below are the stream combinations that fit well with Psychology.
Recommended Read: How to Become a Psychologist & Its Scope in India
Psychology with Physics, Chemistry, and Biology (Medical Stream)
Taking up Psychology with Biology in class 11th is a great subject choice. The subject curriculum of Psychology is such that it provides you with knowledge related to the brain and nervous system and how these systems impact human emotion and behaviour. Studying this subject as a Biology student will allow you to relate all of this to your other studies and understand human functioning better.
If you are an aspiring Medical student, Psychology offers another advantage as a backup option in case you are unable to clear NEET. Psychology would open up opportunities not just in a hospital setting (as a Clinical Psychologist), but you can even explore other diverse settings such as schools, NGOs, old age homes, rehabilitation centres, etc.
Psychology with Humanities stream
Humanities as a whole are all about the functioning of human society, systems and social relationships. Psychology, very much a social science, involves understanding how and why people behave in groups and social settings. Therefore, the understanding of Psychology, when combined with other humanities subjects, like History, Political Science, Sociology, etc. can give you a broader perspective about society and its functioning.
This understanding can be applied even when you build a career in the field, with various sub-fields to choose from, Social Psychology, Counselling Psychology, Organizational Psychology, and so on. It can also prove to be an added bonus for those of you planning to take civil services examination in the future, as the number of students who opt for this subject as their main subject is relatively less, so you have a chance to stand out during interviews.
Psychology with Commerce Stream
For Commerce students, Psychology can prove to be an excellent subject option for understanding the role of human behaviour in organizational and business settings. Having a background in Psychology can help you understand how individuals and teams interact to impact work in organizations. This knowledge coupled with the knowledge of business practices will provide you valuable insights not only into the world of business but also into workplace issues at the individual, group and organizational level.
The domain of Industrial/Organizational Psychology deals with the application of psychological principles to the workplace to enhance the productivity of employees and ultimately, the productivity of organizations. You can specialise in Industrial/Organizational Psychology at your master’s level to build a career in this field. Specializing in this field will allow you to work as a human resource development specialist, organizational consultant, HR manager, industrial/organizational researcher etc.
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2. Home Science
Home Science, a combination of both arts and science, is concerned with better living and enhancing the well-being of society. For example, with our strenuous modern lifestyles, our dietary habits are becoming increasingly unhealthy. To sustain a healthy life, people now consult nutritionists and dieticians to help them eat a more balanced diet.
Beyond nutrition and dietetics, this field also covers broad areas related to health and living, such as food preservation, fashion technology, care and well-being in human development, interior designing, etc. Thus, Home Science can give you diverse career options in sectors such as hotels, hospitals, fashion industry, retail, social work, and so on.
Even if you don’t want to make a career in this field, but want an enriching yet academically light subject to study, then taking up home science can be a good decision.
A few subject combinations that go well with Home Science are as follows.
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Home Science with Physics, Chemistry, Biology (Medical Stream)
A combination of Biology and Home Science works really well if you wish to make a career in the field of Nutrition and Dietetics. Home Science provides you with knowledge of a variety of topics related to nutrition, health, human physiology, food preservation, etc. Depending on your area of interest, as a PCB student, you can specialize as a Nutritionist, Clinical Dietician, Pediatric Dietician, or Pediatrician (Doctors who manage the health of children. You require an MBBS for this). Besides this, you can also enter the fields of academics, research, or social welfare.
Home Science with Physics, Chemistry, Maths, Biology
Food Technology is another domain which can be explored with Home Science, as many of the concepts you learn in Home Science can be applied to a degree in Food Technology. To pursue this field, you can pursue either a B.Sc. or a B. Tech in Food Technology. For B.Tech, Maths is a compulsory subject to study along with Biology in class 11th. You also have an option to pursue B.Sc. in Home Science and then do an M.Sc. in Food Technology to enter this field. Under this course, you will get to understand the science behind food and nutrition. Work areas in this field include food processing and engineering, food preparation, food quality testing and evaluation by keeping a check on the shelf life of ingredients used in different food products.
Home Science with Humanities
Home Science is a viable option for study for humanities students too. While as a humanities student you will not be eligible for a B.Sc (Hons.) course in Home Science, you can still get into a regular program such as a B.Sc or B.A in Home Science. As a part of this course, you’ll study a variety of areas and disciplines like sociology, economics, resource management, design, community living, hygiene, food, nutrition, etc. With a degree in this field, you can work in sectors such as family and child welfare organizations, schools, hospitality, fashion journalism, retail, etc. in various roles.
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Mathematics is a universal subject that holds application in virtually every single field and career. An Architect uses math to calculate dimensions and space to build a building, while an Accountant uses it to maintain financial records. It is an application-based subject that helps an individual in developing problem-solving, analytical and logical thinking abilities. As a result, Maths proves to be helpful in cracking various entrance exams after class 12th, such as JEE, BBA entrances, CLAT, etc.
Mathematics with Science
As a Science student, Mathematics is an indispensable part of your learning. A lot of concepts of Physics and Chemistry are related to the application of Mathematics. From a career perspective, Mathematics is essential to many of the careers offered in the science domain, including Engineering, Aviation, Defense, Architecture, and even research-based fields like Physics, Chemistry, Geology, Mathematics, Cartography, etc.
Earlier students chose either Maths or Biology to enter Engineering or Medicine, but now with multi-disciplinary options coming up, such as Biotechnology, Food Technology, Genetic Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Biophysics, etc., a lot of students are opting for a PCMB combination to keep career opportunities open.
However, do keep in mind that both Biology and Mathematics are subjects that require a significant amount of time for practice and learning, and keeping them both as your prime subjects can impact your score. Therefore, PCMB as a subject combination should be opted only after a lot of careful consideration.
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Mathematics with Commerce
The commerce stream curriculum includes subjects related to accounting, economics, statistics, management, etc., which require the application of mathematics in some or the other way. If you wish to enter fields such as Chartered Accountancy, Cost Accountancy, Chartered Financial Analysis, then these too require good mathematical skills. This by no means suggests that without maths you cannot pursue the above-mentioned courses. However, being in touch with mathematical concepts will give you an upper-edge while performing math-related operations.
Additionally, if you plan to pursue a degree in Business Administration (BBA) or Economics, then most of the top universities/colleges have eligibility criteria that require maths to pursue this course. Also, some basic fundamentals of mathematical skills are needed if you want to write an MBA entrance in the future, therefore being in touch with Maths for a longer period of time will provide you with an edge there.
Recommended Read: Ask A Career Coach: Will Dropping Maths in Class 11 Affect My Career?
Mathematics with Humanities
Not many humanities students prefer to take maths in their top 5 subject options. However, if you wish to enter a management-related course then keeping maths even as an optional subject (6th subject) is beneficial. Firstly, it will improve your analytical, logical and quantitative skills which you will require to write the entrance exams. Secondly, as mentioned earlier, all reputed colleges offering subjects related to business, management and even economics keep maths as an eligibility criterion during the time of admission. Lastly, if you wish to go for an MBA later then a sound knowledge of mathematics is a must to crack the exam.
Recommended Read: Humanities With Maths: Is It the Right Stream Combination for You?
Economics is a trending career nowadays. Economics as a subject will allow you to understand matters related to the economy of the country, employment and unemployment, the rise in prices of various commodities, or how government, businesses and individuals allocate resources and its effect on the society. Studying Economics will help you to understand the wide implications of economic phenomena and work towards them.
Graduation, followed by a master’s degree in Economics would earn you some reputed job roles such as a Data Analyst, Statistician, Stockbroker, Economist or even open opportunities in academics for those with an M. Phil or a PhD. The subject is very logical and requires proper understanding and implementation of concepts and a stronghold over mathematics is a must.
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Economics with Science (Non-Medical)/ Commerce/ Humanities
A degree in Economics opens a broad range of career options for you. After studying this subject in class 11th and 12th, students from all streams with good mathematical skills can go for a degree in Bachelor of Economics. With a degree in Economics, you can enter the banking sector, investment banking, insurance and accounting firms, all of which require strong analytical skills that the subject of Economics will equip you with. You can also enter the field of research or become a think tanker to study and analyse economic issues and work closely with non-profit organizations, business organizations, or the legal sector.
Please note, to pursue BA Economics (Honors), most top colleges require you to have pursued maths in class 12th.
5. Computer Science with Science (Non-Medical)/Informatics Practices with Commerce/Humanities
Computer Science fits very well with the PCM stream. Non-Medical students interested in pursuing software engineering or computer applications after class 12th should choose this subject, as you get to learn to code and develop software. As a part of the curriculum, you will learn about concepts such as data structures, programming methodologies, communication technologies as well as programming languages such as C, C++, Java, Oracle, SQL, Python, etc. Thus, to do well in this subject, you should possess good analytical skills and computer competency.
On the other hand, Commerce or Humanities students interested in computers and increasing their knowledge of programming can opt for Informatics Practices as their 5th subject. You can build a career in this field with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Applications (BCA), followed by a Master’s degree in Computer Applications (MCA).
Topics covered under informatics practices course includes understanding the basic of computers and its application, database management system, programming languages such as SQL, Oracle, JAVA for problem-solving, e-learning, etc.
Recommended Read: Welcome to the Future: 9 Emerging Careers for Science Students
6. Biotechnology with Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Maths (PCM/ PCB Stream)
As the name suggests, this field combines both biology and technology in areas such as medicine, agriculture, environment, pharmaceuticals, etc. Biotechnology as a subject and as a career is open only for the science stream. Students from both PCM and PCB backgrounds can opt for a career in this field.
In India, Biotechnology field is mostly limited to the research sector. One can work with government and private industries in the fields of agriculture, animal husbandry, health care, nutrition, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, marine biotechnology, environmental conservation and waste management, etc.
If research is not your calling, then you can even look at a technical role and work in a KPO (Knowledge Process Outsourcing) companies. In India, there are various firms like Pangea3, Dolcera, etc. that deal with Biotechnology and Life Sciences intellectual property.
In order to pursue a career in biotechnology, you can either take the route of a B.Sc. or a B. Tech. However not many reputed colleges offer B.Sc. degree in this field, so to keep your options open, opting for a PCMB combination is advisable. However, you should opt for this combination only if you are sure about pursuing a career in Biotechnology.
Recommended Read: Pure Science Courses After Class 12th: A Path for Young Science Lovers
7. Fine Arts/ Physical Education with Science/ Commerce/ Humanities
If careers in the fields of art/design and sports interest you, then taking up vocational subjects like Fine Arts or Physical Education will prove to be beneficial and add value to your profile. Additionally, there are some reputed universities that offer up to 15% relaxation in cut-offs to students who are exceptional at extracurriculars and sports. Some of the universities in India offering sports quota include University of Delhi, Jamia Milia Islamia, SRM University, etc.
These subjects are also great if you are going to focus on preparing for entrance exams. Since they are more practical than theoretical, they require lesser time for practice and learning, thus allowing you more time to focus on your entrance preparation and core subjects.
However, being vocational subjects, many colleges of Delhi University don’t accept them in best-of-four calculations for admissions, therefore you might face some percentage deduction.
8. Legal Studies with Humanities/ Commerce
For those of you interested in exploring the field of law, then studying legal studies could be a stepping stone to a career in the field. Studying this subject at your senior secondary level would expose you to the world of law early, and help you understand important concepts that will prove useful later when you pursue a degree in Law. It will also help you develop practical skills such as critical reading, critical thinking, complex analytical writing skills, logical ability, legal aptitude, and most importantly, improve written and verbal communication, all of which are considered to be the main components to crack law entrance examinations.
To take up law as a career, you would need to pursue a 5-year integrated program in Law (BA. LLB, BBA LLB or B. Com LLB) after class 12th.
Delhi University now allows you to include Legal Studies in your best-of-4 score when you apply to a B.A (Hons.) Political Science course.
Recommended Read: Justice for All: What it Takes to Pursue Law as a Career
9. Media Studies with Humanities
In the world of 21st century, media plays a very powerful role in shaping how we view the world around us. Studying Media Studies in your class 11th and 12th can give a jumpstart to a career in Media Communication or Journalism. It is a subject that will help you understand the fundamentals of communication and gain knowledge in areas related to film-making, advertising, marketing, editing, script writing, etc. Besides theoretical knowledge, you will also learn practical skills such as critical thinking, interpersonal skills, presentation skills, ability to work within a team, etc.
Combining subjects like English literature or Political Science with Media Studies will help you gain key knowledge and skills to crack the various entrance examinations for mass communication and journalism courses after class 12th. These fields open up potential career opportunities in a wide range of fields such as advertising, radio/TV journalism, public relations, marketing, etc.
Recommended Read: Mass Communication Vs. Journalism: Are they the Same or Different?
Similar to Legal studies, only those students who want to pursue higher education in Journalism and Mass Communication (BJMC) or Mass Media and Mass Communication (BMMMC), one can include Media Studies in their best-of-4 calculations.
Making the right subject choice can not only help in creating multiple career options after class 12 but can sometimes also serve as an outlet to the stress of studying and taking exams (fine arts for example!). We hope this article will help you choose the right 5th subject suited to your interests and future opportunities. If not, then connect with our career coaches to help you streamline your stream and career choices.
Have anything to add to this article? Share with us in the comments!