What Is a Double Major?

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To double major or not? It's a question facing many college students. While pursuing two degrees at one time sounds like an efficient way to get school out of the way, it does mean more work and a tighter schedule. Before you decide to become a double major student, it's important to know what it entails and how it can affect your college life.

Definition of a Double Major

Getting a double major usually means one thing: you're studying for two degrees at the same time. The details of exactly what that looks like during your time in school will vary. It's a good idea to talk to your advisor about the specifics for your school and the programs you're interested in.

If you graduate with a double major, you get to list two degrees on your resume. Say, for example, that you majored in both psychology and sociology. On your resume you can list the following:

  • B.A., Psychology, ABC University
  • B.A., Sociology, ABC University

However, earning a double major is much easier said than done. In order to graduate with two degrees, you need to do a lot more work than students graduating with just one major.

What Is Involved in a Double Major?

Fortunately, you can often use many of the same classes toward both majors if you choose to. If you need, for example, one year of a language to earn a degree at your school, you can use the Spanish class you took as a freshman toward both degrees. This can lighten your class load, as you won't have to take the second year of language studies.

Once you get to upper-level courses, things get more complicated. You may not be allowed to use upper-level courses for both majors. These classes may include those that are not among general education requirements and classes that require prerequisites.

Depending on your school or program, you may also be limited to how many classes you can use toward both degrees. For example, you might only be allowed to have four of the courses you took for your psychology degree count toward the ten courses required for your sociology degree.

The Challenges of Double Majors

While it can open up your career opportunities after graduation, there are definitely some challenges with double majoring.

  • You need to decide to double major early in your college career to take all the classes you need for both majors.
  • You won't have a lot of space in your schedule for electives or classes that you find interesting if they don't count toward your degrees.
  • You can expect to have a very difficult schedule your junior and senior years because nearly all of your classes will be upper-level courses with heavy workloads.

The Benefits of Double Majors

There are obvious benefits, too. You graduate with two degrees and will have a wealth of information about two fields you (hopefully) love.

Considering the pros and cons of double majoring is much easier when you fully understand exactly what a double major looks like at your school. Be sure to discuss your options with your advisor. If you're willing to put in the extra work, you will reap the extra rewards. For the right students, it is well worth the effort.