College can be an exciting time of growth and learning. In fact, for some, the idea of studying one field just isn’t enough. So, they go for it all and become a double major instead.
Double majoring certainly has its perks. It gives you the freedom to study more than one subject, allows you to become more well-rounded during your time in college, and could afford you the opportunity to study both a career path and a passion project at the same time.
However, deciding to become a double major is a big decision, as going after two majors could mean double the work.
Before heading down this path, here are a few things to consider about becoming a double major, including the pros and cons and who might benefit most from having two majors.
What Is a Double Major?
Though the term “double major” can vary from school to school, it typically refers to a student pursuing two different disciplines under one degree.
While in school, the student works to obtain enough credits for majors in those two disciplines. Usually, this means studying two fields based in the same school, which will earn the student the same type of degree, such as a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) or Bachelor of Arts (B.A.).
Classes, including general education classes, might overlap within the two majors, making it easier to complete both courses of study throughout a student’s education.
It’s important to note there is a distinction between a double major and a dual degree.
A dual degree can mean a student is pursuing two separate degrees. This could mean going after two degrees in two different fields (for example, getting a B.A. in English and a B.S. in Finance), or it could mean studying for a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree at the same time.
Some schools may require you to apply for — and gain acceptance to — both degree programs, and you’ll likely need to finish all requirements (including general education classes) under both degrees.
Again, it’s important to check with your college or university to see how they define a “double major” or a “dual degree” to ensure you are going after the right program.
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How Many People Pursue a Double Major?
Many students choose to go down this path while studying at college or university.
Though the exact number can vary from school to school, it typically ranges somewhere between 10% to 25% of the enrolled student body.
Before diving in and deciding to declare a double major, here are a few pros and cons to consider.
Pros of Declaring a Double Major
Getting to Study Two Areas at Once
Going after a double major can allow you to gain a broader learning experience than others as you expand your classes and curriculum. This means you can leave school with a deep understanding of two totally different topics.
It could also allow you to study something you believe is a direct career path for you, while also exploring an area you are passionate about. And hopefully, in your future career, you can meld the two skill sets together.
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Widening Potential Job Opportunities
By studying in two different areas, you may broaden your future career path. After all, having two majors under your belt means you are skilled at more than just one thing.
But, beyond this, employers may also look favorably on candidates with double majors because it shows they have a broad interest in many topics, can handle the pressures of an increased workload, and are ready and willing to take on new, larger tasks with ease.
Staying on Track for Graduating in Four Years
Because most double majors are completed under the same school within a college or university, you can typically still graduate within the standard four-year timeframe.
That’s because you will likely only have to take one set of general education requirements rather than with a dual degree program where you may need to take two.
Completing all of the coursework on time may take some strategic planning, however. If you have questions, consider speaking with your academic advisor, who may be able to provide helpful insight.
Cons of Declaring a Double Major
Because you may need to add on more credit hours to earn a double major, you might have to spend more time in classrooms and more time studying than your peers who are in pursuit of a single major.
This can also mean you’ll need to be highly organized and driven to go after a double major, and it might not be right for those who are not self-starters.
Less Time for Outside Interests
Because you will likely be in the classroom or library more often studying, having a double major might mean less time for outside interests and extracurricular activities.
And sure, one goes to college to study. However, it can also serve as an important developmental moment in one’s life.
Taking part in sports, clubs, or activities can help students learn and grow in different ways. It can help them connect with others and serve as a wonderful networking opportunity for future job interests.
It’s critical to weigh your options and make sure you know what you will have to give up to go after a double major.
Potential Increased Tuition
Because you may exceed baseline credit hours, you could end up paying more in tuition. Each credit hour can be costly and going after a double major could be a significant investment.
Consider mapping out your coursework to determine exactly how many credits you’ll be required to complete, and how much extra this may cost.
Weigh the potential additional cost against the value having two majors could provide before declaring.
When It Makes the Most Sense to Double Major
In the end, this is a highly personal decision that students must make for themselves or with the guidance of a parent or counselor.
However, it may make sense for anyone who has more than one interest, who wants to broaden the scope of their schooling, or who feels as though a second major will help their future career prospects.
For example, students studying international business may find it helpful to their careers to add a second major in a language.
If someone believes that the return on investment — both in their time and, potentially, money — will be high, then a double major may be right for them.
One Alternative to Double Majoring
There is another way for a student to broaden their horizons and go after their passions throughout their education, and that’s with a minor.
While a major is a student’s main area of study, a minor can be a secondary area of study that requires fewer credit hours to complete than a second major.
Adding a minor can help you broaden your educational scope, allow you to further study areas you are passionate about, and help you walk away with more skills upon graduation.
While a minor doesn’t carry as much weight as a major, you can still list a minor on your resume, which could potentially help you impress recruiters during your post-graduation job search.
Being Financially Prepared to Go After Any Degree You Want
Whether you decide to go after one major, two majors, two degrees, a major and a minor, or some combination of the above, it’s important to be financially prepared for what’s ahead.
Knowing that you have enough funding for college can give you the freedom to explore different academic paths and pursuits without worrying about how you’ll cover the cost.
An important first step is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This will let you know if you are eligible for any federal financial aid, which may include grants, scholarships, work-study, and federal student loans.
To fill in any gaps in funding, some students may also consider a private student loan via a bank, credit union, or online lender. To apply for a private student loan, students generally fill out a loan application either alone or with a cosigner.
Unlike federal student loans, the amount a person qualifies for, along with what interest rate, is usually dependent on the applicant’s (or their cosigner’s) credit score and income, along with other factors.
While qualifying borrowers could secure a competitive interest rate when applying for a private student loan, it’s important to note that federal student loans offer borrower protections that private student loans may not.
These include deferment and forbearance, income-driven repayment plans, and some loan forgiveness programs. Benefits like these mean that students should generally turn to federal loan options before considering private student loans.
If you’ve exhausted all federal student aid options, no-fee private student loans from SoFi can help you pay for school. The online application process is easy, and you can see rates and terms in just minutes. Repayment plans are flexible, so you can find an option that works for your financial plan and budget.
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