If you’re making plans for your undergraduate education, you may be trying to decide on a major. Many students choose only one major, and perhaps a minor as well. But this isn’t your only option.
Depending on your career goals, you may benefit from pursuing a double major for your bachelor’s degree. A double major may open up more job opportunities and help you expand your knowledge in two different or complementary disciplines. One study published in the Columbia Economic Review found that college graduates with double majors usually earn higher salaries than those with only one major.
But what is a double major, and how do you know if it’s right for you? Read on to learn more.
What Is a Double Major?
Double-majoring means you complete one degree, usually a bachelor’s, in two areas of study. For example, if you double-major in business and finance, you would earn one degree that lists two majors rather than two separate degrees. The two majors are often related, but not always.
When you earn a degree with a major and a minor, your degree focuses primarily on your major. A double major, however, places equal importance on both majors.
Pursuing a double major allows you to grow your knowledge and skills in two separate areas of study, which may open up a wider variety of potential career paths upon graduation.
To earn a double major, you typically need approval from academic advisors in both majors’ departments. Your university may not allow you to apply overlapping courses toward both majors’ requirements, or it may limit how many courses can count toward both majors. Check with your school to see how it approaches double majors.
Double Major vs. Dual Degree
Both double majors and dual-degree programs provide an education covering two disciplines, but these degree paths are different.
As discussed above, a double major results in one diploma with two majors. This differs from a dual degree, which awards two separate degrees, such as a bachelor of arts and a bachelor of science.
You can earn a double major at many schools with only 120 credits—the same number of credits required for a single major. Dual degrees, however, typically require more coursework (around 150 credits or more) since they involve two separate degrees.
Requirements for dual degrees vary quite a bit, so check with your university for its specific policies.
Is a Double Major Worth It?
Whether a double major is worth it for you depends on whether completing two majors would help you achieve your career goals.
For instance, if your goal is to work in corporate leadership, double-majoring in business and finance may be helpful due to the broad array of knowledge required for a corporate leadership career. Likewise, if you plan to run an art gallery or work in a business related to the fine arts discipline, earning a double major in business and fine arts may be beneficial.
Below we explore some common benefits and drawbacks of earning a double major.
Benefits of a Double Major
You can develop in-depth knowledge in two areas of study rather than in only one discipline.
You may be qualified for a greater variety of job opportunities.
You can learn about two different subject areas without earning two separate degrees.
You may have greater earning potential, especially if your majors include either business or STEM, according to research published in the Columbia Economic Review.
Potential Drawbacks of a Double Major
You must meet the requirements for both of your majors, including prerequisites and field study requirements.
Focusing on two different majors may increase your workload if your program requires more than the typical 120 credits of coursework for completion.
A double major requires a serious commitment of time and energy. If your time management skills aren’t excellent, this may not be the best option for you, especially if your program requires more than 120 credit hours of coursework.
Common Double Majors for Online Learners
If you’re considering a double major, choosing majors that complement each other may help you develop a deeper understanding of each discipline and give you a competitive edge in the job market.
Below, we overview some common double majors for online learners and how the subject areas can work together to help you establish a successful career.
Business Administration and Accounting
A business administration bachelor’s provides the skills needed to understand business fundamentals and operate an organization. Adding an accounting major offers more in-depth knowledge of recordkeeping, taxation accounting, data analysis and other financial management issues that business administrators may need to know.
Business Administration and Public Health
If you plan to work in an administrative position within public health, you might major in both business administration and public health. Together, these majors can prepare you to develop public health policies for government agencies or to manage facilities, staff and operations in public healthcare settings.
Computer Information Systems and Marketing
Technology has become essential to marketing, so it makes sense to learn both the technical and the consumer sides of marketing. By combining a computer information systems major and a marketing major, you can learn marketing fundamentals and technical concepts that apply to businesses, such as designing programs or creating applications that provide insight into consumer behavior.
Economics and Supply Chain Management
Supply chain management focuses on infrastructure issues, such as procurement, fulfillment, logistics and manufacturing. Economics focuses on concepts such as economic growth, policy issues and economic theory. Combining these majors may be helpful if you want to work in procurement or operations management positions.
Marketing and Communications
Double-majoring in marketing and communications majors teaches market analysis, branding, product placement and other marketing fundamentals. This double major would also cover creating and giving presentations, writing, communications theory and other communications skills. These majors pair well together for professionals in the marketing and public relations fields.
Psychology and Criminal Justice
A bachelor’s in criminal justice explores the judicial system, law enforcement, criminology and other related topics. When you add a psychology major to the mix, you gain additional insight into human behavior and motivation. Combining these two majors can give you more perspective as you work with criminals, victims and other individuals within the legal system.
Political Science and Foreign Language
If you want to work in international affairs, politics, public policy or global organizations, a political science major can help you reach your goal. Many of these positions involve working with people from other countries, so learning a foreign language can make you a more competitive candidate for these jobs.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Double Majors
What does it mean to double-major?
If you earn a double major, it means you complete one diploma focusing on two distinct areas of study. When you graduate, both of your majors are listed on your degree.
Is a double major the same as two degrees?
No, they are not the same. If you earn a double major, it means you earn one degree with two majors. A dual degree results in two different degrees.
Is it worth it to double-major?
If it would help you reach your career goals, earning a double major may be worthwhile. If it wouldn’t help you advance in your career or improve your job prospects, then the extra effort required for a double major may not be worth it.