What Does it Mean to Double Major in College? Should I Do It?

While studying up on different college majors, you may have come across the term “double major.” Curious about what it means? We’ll break it down for you.

Four pictures representing college majors: leaves, science beakers, books, and numbers.

What is a double major?

Students pursuing a double major will complete two sets of degree requirements, and earn one bachelor’s degree when finished. This means students can pursue two fields of study. Some students use double major in related fields that support each other–like Business and Finance. Other students have two different fields of interest that they want to pursue–like Psychology and Literature.

Why double major?

Most will agree that having a double major makes you more competitive when entering the workforce. It allows students to focus on two disciplines, related or unrelated, simultaneously. About 25% of all undergraduate college students double major in their bachelor’s degree.

Which two majors?

Choosing a major can be a long process, and choosing a double-major is twice the labor. It is important to choose a primary major first, to give yourself a guide to what your second major will be, even though they both will require equal attention. Think about how the two will complement one another.

As a Media Production major, I would assume another major in Marketing because the two fields overlap naturally, but marketing is also where I want to apply my creative skills. Someone else’s second major may be Sports Management because that’s the field they want to apply their media production skills. Try and pick two majors that you are interested in and will want to invest your energy into, but also pick two that could have some overlap in the course requirements.

Choosing the right pair of majors is all about your ultimate goals and what you want your career to look like. A second major helps you shape and refine your professional journey.

How will I manage stress?

Maintaining two majors could possibly take a toll on the amount of stress you deal with and affect your grades in the long run. Before you take on the double major be sure you realistically map out your classes and any other extra-curricular activities that you’re a part of. How many hours will you take every semester? Will you enroll in summer courses? Is it practical to try to stay within the four-year graduation plan?

Also, stay in communication with your advisors for both majors. Those relationships will be paramount to your success. If you do decide to go for it, start early to save yourself some strife.

What do I get from this?

While you will certainly gain self-gratitude and praise from friends and family once you complete your degree, you also want to have a tangible goal within your ambitions. Some people pursue double majors to increase the chances of attaining their dream job by narrowing their education to a specific position.

Others do so as a back-up, for fear their first major won’t work out. Another reason may be simply because you are genuinely passionate about two completely different disciplines and want to explore them.

Pros and Cons of a Double Major

Is pursuing a double major right for your educational career? It depends. Here are a few different pros and cons of choosing this route.

Pro: Prepares You for a Niche

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If you’re aiming to have a career in something extremely specific, a double major can be a good idea. It’s important to do your research however to ensure you’re studying the correct subjects and material so you’re prepared for your future, potential career. A double major will, however, set you apart from the rest of the pool of candidates at almost any position.

Con: You May Not Graduate in Four Years

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More classes and workload can mean you have to push back your graduation date. If you’re looking to only spend four years in college, whether for personal or financial reasons, this may not be the correct choice for you. It can be done, but requires very specific planning and some luck when it comes to course scheduling. Talking to your adviser should be your first course of action.

Pro: More Career Options

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With a double major, you might find that more doors open to you after graduation. Even if you decide to change your career trajectory a bit, you have the potential to find more career options than you would have with just one major.

Con: Less Free Time, More Money

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With any extra courses or workload, you’re going to find you have less free time. The amount of studying that a double major requires deters many students from this option. You may discover you no longer have time for your extracurriculars.

The cost is also something to consider. Even if you graduate in four years, you could find your school expenses were a bit higher than you expected due to the extra courses you had to take.

Popular Double Majors

What major combos are you thinking of putting together? Here are a few of the more common examples.

How Common Are Double Majors?

Double major students may be more common than you thought! A study found that about 25% of students actually pursue double majors, and some schools may actually find that they have 40% of students going after two majors.

If you’re considering this option, it’s best to talk to your adviser and see how other students in your school are approaching double majors. You may find that many peers are actually pursuing a similar goal.

Don’t just do it for the glory after graduation because it looks good on a resume or. Make it useful, otherwise, you won’t be making the most out of your experience.

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