Can a Double Major do Double Duty?
Whether it is to diversify their academic scope and competencies or to boost their likelihood of graduate school acceptance or employment, students who double major can benefit personally and professionally. But it requires sacrifice.
For some students the decision to double major begins their first semester, while other students make the choice during their sophomore or junior years by adding coursework to their minor.
If your student is pondering a double major, he/she can benefit from reading the following considerations.
Breadth and Depth of Knowledge
Regardless as to whether the majors are complementary or dissimilar, a curriculum that is dynamic and interdisciplinary can increase a student's level of knowledge and ability. In addition, it can help a student understand the synergetic relationship existing among academic disciplines.
With competition being tight for employment and graduate school acceptance, the ability to favorably differentiate oneself can boost the potential for success. Demonstrating an ability to juggle two majors can show a candidate's initiative, flexibility and resourcefulness. In addition, it can project personal and professional attributes that include time management and organizational skills as well as competence, self-discipline, determination and more.
And yet, a student who seeks a double major within a four-year time span faces challenges.
Depending on the requirements of each major, it can be demanding to double major. The rigors of having two academic disciplines can limit a student to taking mostly core courses and those required by his/her majors. In addition, there is the possibility of having to carry a high number of credit hours each semester, attend summer school and/or forgo other commitments.
In some cases, a student with a double major may be unable to graduate in four years. An extra semester or two of college has financial implications that include tuition, possible room/board, books and other fees. Furthermore, there is additional debt incurred for students receiving financial aid.
Before Deciding, a Student May Want to Consider:
Why do I want a second major—is it for career/graduate school purposes, or for enhancing my skills and perspectives, or for addressing my passion for two academic disciplines? Or am I adding another major because I lack direction?
Is a double major the right choice or would I be better served by participating in a dual degree or a pre-professional training program, or by attending graduate school upon completion of my undergraduate degree?
What are the personal, academic, social and/or financial implications of a double major?
Have I sought the input of others—my faculty advisor, faculty in the disciplines I am considering, and/or students I know who may have double majored?
Are the majors complementary or dissimilar and how would this impact me with regard to coursework and experiential and co-curricular activities, as well as my personal and professional goals?
Are my time management, organizational and study skills in line with what would be required of me, and how might a rigorous schedule affect me physically and emotionally?