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Should You Get a Double Major? Pros and Cons

Oct 8, 2013 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Columnist | 0 Comments

Getting a double major isn’t easy. In many cases, it’s twice the work—and professors will expect a lot from you. But it can have its advantages as well. Here’s a look at the pros and cons of getting a double major.

Advantages of a Double Major

You get a broader perspective.

If you’re stuck in just one major and department, sometimes you don’t get to see the broader picture. Choosing two majors, such as a teaching degree and english degree, can make your college experience more rich, and allow you to explore your interests more fully.

You stand out from the crowd.

It’s not clear whether employers actually prefer graduates with double majors. But in a highly competitive job market, any little advantage over your competition could make a difference. In a market where most people still graduate with single majors, your resume will stand out.

Expanded possibilities.

A double major means you’re qualified for two different fields—and your job options are broader than those of a person who graduated with just one major. You really have three options with a double major—the possibility of jobs within either one of your majors, or in a field that draws on both disciplines. In the third scenario, you’re especially qualified.

Disadvantages of a Double Major

It can be more expensive.

It’s possible you may be able to graduate with a double major without paying more for credits—depending on how your school distributes credits and whether some classes can give you credits toward both degrees. But at many schools you’ll wind up paying more. One of the biggest drawbacks of getting a double major is that it’s both more expensive and more time-consuming—and the time leads to greater expense.

It can take you longer to graduate.

And that could add to your college loan costs as well. Unless you’re very disciplined, it’s possible you could take an additional year or more to graduate if you are earning a double major. If this is something you want to pursue, talk to your advisor to see if it’s possible for you to graduate on time while earning a double major.

It’s tougher.

If you’re on the fence academically, a double major may not be the best choice. Professors will expect more from you in the classroom when you’re majoring in their field—and when you have two departments expecting your best, thatt can put a lot of pressure on you. Again, this is something you might want to discuss with an advisor before signing on.

Tips for Getting a Double Major

If you’re set on getting a double major, try to minimize the expense and time—while maximizing what you’ll get out of the experience. One of the best things you can do is choose two fields that are related or complement each other—such as political science and pre-law, or English and theatre. This will make it much more likely that your future employers will see your double major as an advantage and a sign of your commitment, rather than a sign of lack of focus. In addition, going for similar majors means that your college is more likely to give you opportunities to apply single classes to both majors—which can reduce the time and expense it takes to get the major.

Getting a single major at a traditional or accredited online college is hard—but getting a double major is even more of a challenge. Still, if you’re sure you can keep up with the academic workload and especially if you choose two majors that complement each other and are mutually relevant, then it could be an advantage—without costing you more time and money.



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