As a student, one of the most important decisions you make is choosing the field you want to study. Should you choose something you are passionate about or an area with a more promising job outlook? What if we told you that you could do both? Let us introduce you to the option of double majoring in university.
Continue reading and learn all there is to know about double majoring so you can consider all your options and choose what is best for you and your future. From a definition of the term to its pros and cons and even a list of alternatives—this guide includes all the information you need to decide whether you should double major.
What Is a Double Major?
Before we answer the question “What is a double major?” it’s important to understand what a major itself is. So, a major in university or college refers to the specific subject area within an approved degree program that you, as a student, are specializing in. Generally speaking, your major determines almost half of the courses you take, as they somehow relate to the field of your major.
Furthermore, your choice of major helps you learn a specific trade as you obtain the necessary skills and theoretical knowledge to enter a range of careers once you graduate.
Now that you have more information about what a major is, we can easily dissect the meaning behind the term “double major.” As the name implies, a double major is the combination of two different majors, including completing two sets of degree requirements based on the fields you pursue and earning a singular degree for both areas when finished.
Should I Double Major in University?
Whether or not you should double major in a university depends entirely on you and your plans for the future. Suppose you are interested in two fields and would like to explore career options for both. In that case, double majoring is a good idea. However, both majors come with their requirements, which is more challenging than opting for one major per degree.
Let’s go through some of its pros and cons to help you make a better-informed decision on whether you should double major in university.
Pros of a Double Major
Statistics from the College Board show that double majoring is a trend in many schools, with about a quarter of all students choosing to pursue two majors simultaneously. Even some of the most selective schools have experienced an increase of more than 10% in the number of students double majoring. Reports from such colleges show that 30% to 40% of their undergraduates are electing to double major, and the numbers are expected to increase considering the financial and personal payoffs.
If you’d like to join the likes of the students making up the above percentages, read on as we go through some of the top benefits of double majoring.
A well-rounded education
By choosing a double major, you are choosing to learn more about two different areas and thus gain a broader learning perspective that helps you achieve a well-rounded education. For example, suppose you are a philosophy major. In that case, you will have a great understanding of various philosophical concepts, definitions, arguments, and problems, plus the skills to construct arguments and answer questions of value for the field.
However, if you double major in philosophy and political sciences, you will also better understand politics, including political ideas, ideologies, policies, behaviors, and more. This way, you can combine your education in philosophy and political sciences to better explore and work more closely with issues related to public life.
Because you will be dealing with more requirements and the amount of learning needed to complete courses for both majors, double majoring will help you improve your multitasking, organization, time management skills, and many others.
It would be best if you noticed the importance of such soft skills, as reports from a survey show that 91% of recruitment professionals see such skills as very important to the future of recruitment and HR.
Furthermore, research shows that around 85% of job success is attributed to well-developed soft and people skills, whereas only 15% is related to hard technical skills.
Better job prospects
Another benefit of double majoring is the typical increase in career opportunities for graduates who have done the work needed for two areas of study. Say you are interested in a field estimated to have a low percentage job outlook. In that case, you can increase your chances of finding employment by double majoring and combining the knowledge and skills of both fields to succeed.
Similarly, suppose you would prefer to have more career opportunities or a higher chance of being hired for the roles you apply for in a booming industry. In that case, being better prepared, having the additional skills acquired through double majoring, and expanding your education will help set you apart from the competition.
Double majoring can also lead to higher income as some fields value the time and effort needed to double major as well as the level of skills and knowledge acquired by offering better salaries.
For example, according to a study on the benefits of double majoring, when comparing the average earnings of single majors and those of people with combinations of majors, such as, for example, a humanities degree with majors in business, social sciences, and education, the second group is associated with higher average salaries. However, keep in mind that such a benefit is generally more prominent in specific fields, typically double majors involving business and STEM.
Cons of a Double Major
Though there are some great benefits to pursuing a double major in university, you should also keep in mind that such a decision has drawbacks. After all, many students consider double majoring at some point but decide not to.
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Reports show that 33% of such students claim to be afraid they will not accumulate enough credits by the end of their fourth year, and 31% feel ill-equipped to deal with the courses required for two majors. A small percentage of students are also discouraged by the more challenging honors thesis or aren’t interested in any other field except for their one major of choice.
So, before choosing to double major, think about whether or not you feel prepared and motivated to push through the challenges presented.
Alternatives to a Double Major
If you like the prospect of learning more about two areas simultaneously but are unsure whether you are ready to complete the work needed for two majors, you can opt for an alternative option. Generally, you can get some similar benefits through:
- Choosing a minor in the other area of your interest
- Applying for internships in various fields
- Learning from professionals through certification programs
If you are ready and determined to dedicate more time to your studies, an alternative to double majoring is also pursuing a dual degree. When comparing a double major vs. dual degree, you can notice that both allow you to specialize in two fields; however, through a dual degree, you earn two diplomas.
Best Double Major Combinations
- Computer Sciences with Data Science, Electrical Engineering, Mathematics, or Statistics
- Engineering with Business or Communications
- Economics with Political Science, Marketing, or Mathematics
- Psychology with Education, Criminal Justice, Public Health, or Communications
- Accounting with Business Administration, Finance, Computer Information Systems, or Education
Is a Double Major Worth It?
Now, onto the million-dollar question: Is it worth it to double major?
Well, double majoring has its pros and cons. Of course, a double major is very valuable, as having two sets of skills and broader knowledge is better than what one achieves with one major. However, it might be optional for some people and their plans for the future. So, consider what you want, your interests, and your career plans, and determine if a double major can help you achieve those goals.
The bottom line is that having the option to double major is an excellent opportunity to expand your horizon and dip your toe in other fields. Whether it be a major that pairs well with your initial area of studies or something completely different you are interested to know more about—if you are ready and willing to broaden your educational experience, a double major is it.