What is Double Majoring & is Double Majoring Worth it?
In college, your major is your specialty. It indicates that you’ve taken and successfully passed a collection of courses and achieved proficiency in a specific subject. Choosing your major is an important milestone, as it greatly influences your college career and beyond.
Your major of choice will play a huge role in hireability after college, as many positions search for only specific majors. For these reasons, some college students don’t settle for just one major. They go for two. This is called a double major, and while it is a significant investment, it can have big-time benefits.
Deciding to double major is not an easy choice. There is a lot to consider, especially if you’re majoring in two unrelated fields. Double majoring can affect your job prospects and income after graduation, but it could take longer to graduate.
So, how does double majoring work, and should you double major? In this guide, we give you the info you need to make an informed decision. Dive into the world of the double major below, and sign up for a Appily account to make your college search a success.
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What Is Double Majoring?
Double majoring is the process of earning two majors on a single bachelor’s degree. Students who double major must satisfy the requirements of each major in order to qualify.
How Does Double Majoring Work?
A degree with a double major looks just like a standard bachelor’s degree, except it lists two majors instead of one. This indicates that the student has done the coursework (and final projects, if applicable) necessary to complete each major in full. When you double major, you can say that you majored in both subjects without qualification. This can have significant benefits during the job search or the move to graduate school.
Example Combinations of Double Majors
Theoretically, you can double major in any two subjects. However, there are common combinations that students choose for a number of reasons. These common combinations fall into two camps: STEM and humanities combinations, and related-subject combinations.
The first combination involves a STEM major and a humanities major, giving the student an attractive breadth of specialty (and helping the student to take a diverse course load during college without getting bogged down in one subject).
The second combination involves two related subjects (in either STEM or the humanities), which can give the student a leg up when applying to jobs or academic positions in certain fields. (This combination can also be easy to complete, as it often involves courses that count towards both majors.) Here are few common examples of both double major combinations.
- Economics and mathematics
- English and Philosophy
- Biology and Chemistry
- Foreign language and international studies
- Communications and business
- Education and psychology
- Art and psychology
- English and chemistry
- Philosophy and computer science
- Psychology and sociology
Alternatives to Double Majoring
You don’t have to double major to expand your depth or breadth of study and improve your career prospects. There are a number of alternatives to double majoring that can yield similar results.
For those earning their first bachelor’s degree at a four-year institution, pursuing a minor in addition to a primary major can be a good choice. Minors require significantly fewer courses (and typically no final project) to complete, and they still show up in your degree. Many students elect to earn two additional minors instead of one additional major to show more breadth.
Other good options to bolster your credentials include completing a study abroad program, a work-study program, or an internship either at your school or at a company. These endeavors all show a commitment that goes above and beyond the call of a traditional major trajectory. Not only will they improve your education and work experience — they will also help you stand out to future employers or graduate schools.
Pros of Double Majoring
Is double majoring worth it? For some, it is. For others, it isn’t. It all depends on your unique situation. Here are some of the biggest benefits of double majoring.
- Earning two degrees increases your job prospects and potential career once you graduate
- Colleges and universities have guidelines to help students double major
- Pairing liberal arts majors with those in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) results in higher earnings than just majoring in a liberal arts field
- Double-majoring builds your skillset and critical thinking abilities
- Some classes might overlap, making your time and tuition more efficient
Cons of Double Majoring
With the pros of double majoring covered, it’s now time to take a look at the cons. While these do not apply to all cases, they are common issues that arise for many students while double majoring. For some students, they’re worth the end result. For others, they’re not. Without further ado, here are some of the potential cons of double majoring.
- You might not graduate in four or five years
- If you stretch yourself too thin, you may miss out on internships
- You might not take as many elective courses or explore as many interests
- You may take summer classes to keep up with the course load
- The time you spend studying could be spent doing extracurricular activities
- One or both of your majors could suffer due to the other
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So, Is Double Majoring Worth It?
We've looked at both sides of the issue, and now we're revisiting the central question for so many readers: is a double major worth it? To really answer this question, it's essential to take a look at yourself as a student. What are your weaknesses and strong suits? What are your interests? What are your goals?
Answering these questions can help you determine if a double major is right for you. For instance, if you get burnt out quickly on a side single subject matter, then it may be a good idea to pick one major and fill out the rest of your schedule with a wide range of classes (rather than loading your schedule with just two types of courses to double major).
On the other hand, if a single subject (or two) really interests you more than others, a double major may be perfect. Likewise, if a double major can significantly improve your chances of getting hired in the field of your choice, it may be worth the commitment. On the other hand, if a single major or extra minor (plus an internship or two) will work just as well, you may want to focus your efforts there.
These are just some possibilities to consider when pursuing a double major. It's a big commitment that can vary considerably based on the school and majors selected, but that doesn't mean it's a wrong choice for most.
If you're strongly considering double majoring, we recommend moving as far down that path as possible while still knocking out required courses before declaring for a double major (typically in your sophomore or junior year). That will give you a better idea of where you stand before you take the plunge.
Additionally, our friend Garrick Gibson, the co-founder of HBCU Lifestyle, always recommends that students look for majors with course requirements that overlap to cut down on the extra work they must do. He also added that "you will need to be good at managing your time and keeping things organized when handling what could be a bigger workload."
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In this guide, we've opened the door for you to explore double majoring. It's up to you to decide whether it's the right choice for you or not. But don't worry; we're here for you if you need extra guidance or additional resources.
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