To double-major or not to double-major—that is the question many prospective college students ask themselves. There are lots of other questions that accompany that one: Will it cost more to double-major? Are there more job prospects for double majors? How might it affect your academic schedule? Well, wonder no more! We’re going to discuss the benefits and drawbacks of double-majoring in college, which will hopefully answer your questions to some degree. Without further ado, let's explore the most prominent pros and cons of a double major.
Pro #1: You’ll be qualified for more roles
Imagine you're an English major looking for internships. All the positions you apply for will be centered around the typical things an English major might be interested in, such as journalism, newswriting, scriptwriting—you get the point. Because of how niche an English major's skill set typically is, the amount of internships available to you may be limited. A major like Marketing will likely have double the number of internship opportunities, if not more, since business is such a broad field. Now, imagine you're an English and Marketing major. The amount of internships you'll be qualified for will be absolutely huge, meaning you'll be more likely to land one and will be gaining two different but complementary sets of skills that will make you more appealing to future employers.
This advantage applies to your future career options as well, but in a different way. Depending on how related the two disciplines you choose are, the fact that you double-majored can be a major advantage (pun very much intended). For example, if you were applying for a content writing job where Search Engine Optimization and marketing techniques help with visibility, you’d look much more appealing than another applicant who doesn't have a marketing background.
Pro #2: You'll have more career paths to follow
In the same vein as the first pro, this is especially helpful if your desired career field is extra competitive. Even if it’s not, it could still be in your best interest to have another professional pathway you’d like to pursue. Given how ruthless the job market can be, creating a backup plan can’t hurt. Having that extra major on your degree means you can apply for jobs that involve either or both of your two disciplines, giving you more job prospects in the long run. If your two majors are significantly different, you just need to make sure you’d be happy working in either field—though any major can lead to many different careers!
Pro #3: You can explore your interests more deeply
If done right, double-majoring will let you learn about two topics that fascinate you, one that fascinates you and one that seems more practical, or some other combo. You're given the opportunity to deeply study two subjects, so choosing which subjects to major in is very important and should be given plenty of thought. Seriously, don't take it lightly! Double-majoring is a huge commitment, and remember that minoring is always an option too. Some students prefer to go that route, since you're still given the chance to dive into about a subject with a minor—just not as aggressively. Make sure you understand what minoring entails and that you don't want to simply minor in one of your interests before moving forward with declaring a double major. Minoring is a viable option and a great alternative to double-majoring that also comes with a lot less stress.
Con #1: It could dictate the classes you take
We can all agree that electives are fun, right? Well, college electives are no different. They offer the chance to learn about a subject without much of a commitment and introduce you to new and fascinating ideas and subjects. With that in mind, one of the bigger (but incredibly subjective) cons is the fact that since you have to fulfill the requirements of both your majors via required classes, a lot of your elective slots will be filled with class requirements instead. While this might not be a problem for some (after all, you might just love learning about your majors so much that you don't even notice!), it could prove to be a problem for others, especially students who want college to be a chance to learn a variety of new things. If you're this kind of person, double-majoring may not be right for you.
Con #2: You may not graduate on time and could end up paying more
Considering the rigor, time commitment, and number of classes and credits required to double-major, it's totally possible that you won't graduate in four years. It certainly is possible to graduate on time, depending on your majors, time management skills, life circumstances, and many other factors. But remember that if for some reason your time in college is extended, so is your bill; you'll be paying extra tuition for every extra credit hour you have to attain. Life is unpredictable, so really consider whether you think you'll be able to meet the demands of a double major. If money is a major concern for you and your family, you'll need to be extra careful and have a plan in place, or perhaps consider minoring in one subject instead.
Con #3: You’ll have little downtime in college
Double-majoring requires a hefty time and energy commitment—no exceptions. This means you'll have less time to dedicate to your personal passions, extracurriculars, volunteering, and other things you may want to spend time on in college. The demands of a double major can often make students feel burnt out, overworked, or alone. Your personal priorities and life outside your studies should be carefully examined so you don't end up with these feelings. If you want a wild college experience filled with parties, tons of events, and late nights out, then double-majoring might not work out for you considering the sacrifices you'll have to make for your studies. However, if having loads of spare time really isn't your thing and you'd prefer to push yourself to your academic limits, the demands of a double major may not be too rough for you.
While there's no golden rule or guidebook on knowing whether double-majoring is the right path for you, considering what you might get out of it and what you might lose can be a great place to start. Think about your future career, priorities, and learning style, as those are all factors that will very heavily impact how you'll manage the demands of a double major.
Looking for schools with a lot of different majors and programs? Check out our lists of featured comprehensive undergraduate colleges across the country to learn more about your options!