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Should You Earn a Double Major? The Pros and Cons

Jun 19, 2011 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Education.org Columnist | 0 Comments

Can’t decide what to major in? You may want to consider a double-major—earning two majors in the same four years during which most students only earn one. There are significant benefits to choosing to earn a double major—but it comes with its drawbacks, too. Here’s a look at the pros and cons.

Why You Should Double Major

You get to study two subjects you love

Some students have more than one passion—and don’t want to choose between them. A double major makes it so you don’t have to choose—you can focus your academic pursuits in both your areas of interest.

You prepare yourself for a dual career focus

If you envision a very specific career path, a double major may make you uniquely suited to that niche area when you graduate—and a stronger candidate for that field in the job market. For example, if you know you want to work in education policy within the government, you may want to double major in education and public policy.

You get a stronger resume

Student Making A Choice

Some students have more than one passion—and don’t want to choose between them. A double major makes it so you don’t have to choose—you can focus your academic pursuits in both your areas of interest.

 

In addition to making you uniquely suited to a very specific field or industry, a double major demonstrates your dedication and focus. In a tight job market where new graduates are having a difficult time finding jobs in every industry,  every little edge helps.

It saves you time—and money

Getting a double major is quicker and much less expensive than earning a Bachelor’s degree in one subject and then a Masters in another. Both options give you with a strong background in both subjects, but you won’t have to delay entry into the job force or add significantly to your student loans if you earn a double major instead of a Masters.

Drawbacks to Earning a Double Major

You increase your workload

No matter what combination of majors you choose, a double major is more academically challenging than a single major. Consider whether you can handle the extra workload. In addition, consider the two majors you want to pursue. Are both known for their difficulty? Can you be satisfied with simply earning a minor in one of the subjects instead?

Some colleges are more accommodating than others

And some major combinations are easier to study as double majors than others as well. Some schools will allow you to apply some classes to both majors—reducing your workload and the cost of tuition. That won’t work if your two majors are unrelated, however. At some schools, your cost of tuition will go up if you earn two majors, and at some schools, you can apply enough classes to both majors and replace enough electives with major credits that it won’t significantly affect your tuition. Talk to your academic advisor to determine how much a double major would affect college costs in your case.

You may have to sacrifice activities

As valuable as a double major may be in your career, you may find that extracurricular experience is just as important when you get into the job market. Will a double major require that you give up an extracurricular that’s important to you, a campus job you need, or a social life? Are you willing to take that risk—and is it worth it? Be aware of the sacrifices asked of you before making your decision.

If you’re considering a double major, talk to your academic advisor

It may be possible to combine some classes at your school so that your workload isn’t as heavy and your tuition costs don’t go up. However, earning a double major will still increase your workload—and may require you to sacrifice some outside activities if you want to pull it off. Get a realistic sense of the workload and other factors—as well as the benefits—before making your decision.

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