What is a double major and is it worth it?

December 07, 2021 · 6 min read · By ASU Online
Is a double major worth it? Learn what a double major is, some popular combinations and the benefits of pursuing two majors as you complete your degree.

As a prospective first-year student or somebody who is currently enrolled in a college or university, you may be wondering whether you should take on a second major. There are some challenges with this approach, but it can all be worth it when you earn your degree. A double major can make you more marketable, and you’ll have a broader knowledge base, allowing you to network in new fields and succeed with a wider variety of opportunities.

If you’re interested in a double major, we’ve provided some basics to consider.


What is a double major?

A student who completes a double major will receive one degree — usually either a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science — but it will reflect the two majors you’ve chosen equally. This is in contrast to earning a degree with a major and a minor. In that situation, the minor is clearly positioned as a secondary focus area. This is also different from a dual degree program, in which students earn two separate degrees.


What is the difference between a double major and dual degree?

An example of a double major would be earning a single Bachelor of Arts in both philosophy and communication. They’re two separate disciplines, but they’re weighted equally, and are part of the same degree.

On the other hand, somebody who successfully completes a dual degree program would leave school with two degrees. For instance, they might earn a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy at the same time as they receive a Bachelor of Science in communication.

Both options are available to Arizona State University’s online students. While either option may be completed in four years, your timeline could vary based on a variety of factors, including the requirements for your majors, whether you have transfer credits and your course load. Your academic advisor can assist you in navigating these concerns.


What are some of the potential challenges of completing a double major?

Your last few semesters could be intensive, especially compared to a student who has one major. This includes the possibility of more than one capstone course. You’ll also likely have to set aside additional time for your studies as you balance increased classwork with internships and other beneficial networking opportunities.

You’ll have to budget your time wisely so you can study an appropriate amount for both majors. ASU has services for online students that are designed to support you with time management, supplemental instruction and other study skills.

You’ll also have to carefully plan your schedule to ensure you can finish the proper sequence of courses for each major in a suitable time frame. Open communication and collaboration with your academic advisor can help you stay on track to finish your degree.


Is a double major worth it?

The answer depends on your goals, the industry you hope to enter, what disciplines you double major in and your employer.

Some businesses believe double-major students have an inherently high work ethic, which may give you an edge in the application process. Other companies, especially in more specialized fields, may only check whether your degree includes the major that’s most relevant to your role. In these situations, having a second major still won’t hurt your prospects.

A 2016 study published in the Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis found that combining a business major with a science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) degree was associated with higher earnings.

Your specific career goals could also influence your decision. For example, if you want to work for a multinational company that has several offices abroad, it may be beneficial to major in a specific field related to your job function while also studying a foreign language.

You could also decide that your college education is a time when it’s important to explore all of your curiosities to the fullest. In this sense, a double major can provide you with an enriching student experience.

How do you choose a double major?

In a double major program, a student will often select an additional major they’re interested in and that complements their primary major. For ASU Online programs, you can select your first major on the ASU application and later work with your academic advisor to add the second.

For example, the W. P. Carey School of Business offers several different online undergraduate business degrees that share a core curriculum. As such, students in the business college don’t have to worry as much about whether a particular course will carry over from one major to the next. Some popular double major combinations in this field include: 

You might also choose to supplement a discipline you’re interested in by majoring in English, which can augment your learning in a wide variety of other fields by further supporting your development of skills like writing, analysis and research.

The School of International Letters and Cultures noted that Spanish courses may fulfill general education requirements while also contributing to a second major. Pursuing an additional major in Spanish can promote a broader understanding of culture, media and politics throughout the world, providing a new perspective that can support your career goals in several different fields. According to the school, Spanish is often paired with majors such as:

  • Engineering.
  • Health.
  • Journalism.
  • Law.
  • Social work.

Other popular double majors with Spanish include business, speech and hearing sciences, ethnic studies disciplines, and women and gender studies.

The potential combinations are varied, and there are many different online bachelor’s degrees you could pursue together. No matter the specific path you choose, it’s important to work closely with your academic advisor while planning your double major.


Completing your double major online

Many online undergraduate students decide to be double majors. By coordinating your course schedule with the relevant college, you can work toward earning your degree in a suitable amount of time. At ASU, online student services are available to empower your progress, including:

  • Counseling and life services: You’ll have access around the clock to resources that can assist you with concerns such as career advice, care for children and elders, crisis support and more.
  • Student wellness support: Licensed professionals are available to support you with issues such as anxiety, stress, finances and your general health and well-being.
  • Success coaching: Take advantage of the one-on-one support available from motivational personal advisors.
  • Technical assistance: A help center with live chat is offered at all hours, and you can also use free digital storage, online library access and other tools and resources.
  • Time management coaching: Throughout all stages of your academic journey, resources from ASU can support you with creating schedules, setting goals and making the most of your time.

There are also online tutoring resources to support your efforts as you follow your passions in each major.

Whether you ultimately decide to complete one major or two on your road to earning a degree, we’re here to provide you with access to advisors and resources to empower your success — from coursework to your career and beyond.

Earn your master's degree sooner with Accelerated Master's programs

ASU Online's Accelerated Master's programs allow you to earn your graduate degree in as little as one year after completing your undergraduate degree.


Step 1 of 2

Get started today

To learn more about ASU Online or a specific program, fill out the form below and check your email for information on next steps.

* Indicates a required field

This is a required field.