You’re expected to choose a major or field of study to pursue when going through college. However, a student might decide to focus on two majors in some cases.
A double major has the potential to provide advantages during the career search, but it’s not always the wisest course. So, do double majors cost more? And should you double major? Let’s look at how double majoring works and how it can impact you.
What Is a Double Major?
A double major is essentially a way of getting a degree in two different areas of study. Perhaps you want to study a science field, but you also acknowledge the importance of understanding business. You could double major in business and computer science and essentially get a degree in both.
When you choose your double major carefully, it could provide a unique advantage. For example, a 2016 study by Cambridge University Press found that double majoring in a STEM field and business led to higher earnings.
However, is double majoring more expensive? Will you recoup your costs?
Do Double Majors Cost More?
Even though you might think double majoring is more expensive, it doesn’t always have to be. If you decide to double major early on, you might be able to take more classes per semester and finish your schooling within four years.
At many colleges, your full-time tuition is the same each semester regardless of how many classes you take. So, if you need to take 18 credits each semester to finish your double major degree within four years, you might not end up paying more. Additionally, if you have related majors that have some of the same requirements, each class “counts” for each major, reducing the time you need to spend getting a double major.
On the other hand, though, double majoring can be more expensive if you extend your time in school to fulfill all the requirements. Perhaps you need to take extra classes to meet your requirements. If you decide to take summer classes or if you take five years instead of four years to finish, your double major will be more expensive. However, if you run the numbers, you might decide that your salary increase later will make up for the extra cost.
Pros and Cons of Double Majoring
Is double majoring more expensive? Maybe. But should you double major anyway? It might make sense, depending on your situation. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages. Carefully consider whether it makes sense for you.
Pros of Double Majoring
- Potential for higher earnings. Depending on the majors you choose, you could potentially get paid more if you have a double major and can bring another element of expertise to your career.
- Back up plan for your career. A double major can allow you more options for work later. If one of your majors doesn’t result in work, the second major might provide you with opportunities. It’s a way to ensure that you have multiple choices and career paths.
- Additional skills and a better-rounded education. With a double major, you have the chance to improve your depth of knowledge in two subjects, which can provide you with an enhanced skill set and more well-rounded education.
Cons of Double Majoring
- Added stress to your schedule. If you decide to try to complete your double major within four years, you could experience added stress. To double major without increasing your costs, you need to load up on classes, which can reduce free time and be stressful.
- You could spend more time in school. Rather than stressing yourself out with classes, you might decide to take more time. Doing this increases the amount of time you spend in school, which delays when you start earning money in your career.
- It can be expensive. Is double majoring more expensive? It can be. Your scholarship might not cover the fifth year of school. Extra classes in the summer or an additional year of tuition could put a strain on your finances and increase the amount of student loan debt you have at graduation.
Tips for Double Majoring
If you decide that you want to double major, it’s important to plan ahead and consider how to ease the transition. Here are some ways to increase your chances of success when double majoring.
- Look for related majors. Consider related majors that share some requirements. Doing so will cut down on the extra classes you need to take.
- Speak with an advisor. Get help mapping out your course of study to stay on track and manage your time wisely.
- Apply for additional scholarships. Look for department scholarships and additional funding to help you cover other costs, such as summer semesters, that might come with your double major. You can also look into low-interest private student loans to help you cover expenses.
- Take care of your mental health. Double majoring can be stressful. If you need to reduce your course load one semester, consider scaling back. Be sure to find activities or schedule downtime to stay on top of your classes.
Bottom Line: Should You Double Major?
Before deciding to double major, review the requirements and consider your situation. Ask yourself:
- Do double majors cost more in the programs into which you’re looking?
- Can you combine classes with meeting the requirements of both majors?
- What is the actual potential for an increase in salary if you get two majors?
- Will you be able to handle the class load?
Think about what double majoring means for your situation and run a few numbers. If you can reasonably expect to make enough money to offset the potential costs of double majoring, it might be worth it. On the other hand, if you’re not sure how you will handle the course load and if you don’t see a career advantage from double majoring, you might be better off choosing a minor instead.