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.