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    Should You Double Major or Minor? Everything You Need to Know

    By Gabriel Jimenez-Ekman

    Gabriel Jimenez-Ekman is a content editor and writer at Scholarships360. He has managed communications and written content for a diverse array of organizations, including a farmer’s market, a concert venue, a student farm, an environmental NGO, and a PR agency. Gabriel graduated from Kenyon College with a degree in sociology.

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    Reviewed by Caitlyn Cole

    Caitlyn Cole is a college access professional with a decade of experience in non-profit program and project management for college readiness and access organizations.

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    Edited by Maria Geiger

    Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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    Updated: February 6th, 2024
    Should You Double Major or Minor? Everything You Need to Know

    If you have a strong interest in two academic fields, you’ll probably be confronted with a big choice in college. As you pursue these interests, you’ll want your degree to reflect both fields of study. Fortunately, there are a couple of options to earn a degree in more than one subject. 

    You can choose to major in one of the fields and minor in another. Another option is to double major. If you’re wondering, “Should I double major or minor?” you’re in the right place. Keep reading to find out what is involved in each choice!

    Also see: How to choose a major

    What is a minor?

    A college minor is your secondary academic discipline. Typically, you won’t put the same amount of effort into it as you put into your major. You’ll even have fewer classes to complete your minor requirements. 

    It’ll be on your transcript and diploma, but it doesn’t carry the same weight as a major. At many schools, you can even choose to have 2 minors if you want.

    Related: What is a minor in college?

    What is a double major?

    A double major is having two academic disciplines that are equally important. You’ll have double the course requirements, but if they are in a similar field then there might be some overlap. You’ll probably also have to complete two senior capstone exercises. 

    This means that double majoring is more work, but you’ll also graduate with a very versatile diploma. You will probably have equal power to pursue a career or second degree in either subject.

    Advantages of a minor

    Flexible classes

    Adding a minor has many advantages. It is a flexible option that many students can achieve, even if they acquire their passion for the second discipline late into college. 

    A minor offers the chance to explore different classes while still fulfilling requirements. You can pursue many different interests with a minor. Be sure to pay close attention to the number of credits needed for a minor; you may find if you completed college-level classes during high school that you could be closer to earning a minor than you think!

    Beneficial for postgraduate opportunities

    Additionally, people who minor in a subject can use their minor strategically when applying for jobs or grad school. You can use it to get a leg up on other candidates since you’ll already have some background in different fields. Minoring shows that you have a well-rounded set of interests and can pursue multiple goals at once.

    Advantages of double majoring

    A double major will have a degree that is equally valid in two concentrations. If you major in English and neuroscience, you could go on to be a newspaper reporter, or a lab scientist. You could even go on to write about neuroscience! 

    Your possibilities truly open up when you have a double major.

    Expanded opportunities

    As a college student, it’s hard to know what you want to do for the rest of your life. Double majors have an advantage in this regard. Your degree will be applicable to two different fields of study, so you’ll have a wider pool of jobs to pool from. 

    Additionally, because double majoring is challenging, employers and grad school admission officers will be impressed. Even if your second major isn’t relevant to the position, they will take your double major as a testament to your work ethic.

    Increased networking

    If that’s not enough, you’ll be able to form close relationships with professors in two different departments at your school. One of the most valuable assets of a college education is the connections you make. If you work closely with your professors, you’ll have double the connections to help you find opportunities after graduation.

    Read more: Should I switch majors? How to decide

    Disadvantages of a minor

    Time constraints

    Although a minor can be a rewarding pursuit, there are reasons to be wary of it as well. It’s worth remembering that a minor will make your schedule more rigid. Additionally, they may cut into time that you would have spent doing extracurriculars and making friends.

    Lack of significance  

    But the biggest disadvantage to minors is that some employers or grad schools may not ascribe much significance to them. A minor is not taken nearly as seriously as a major. 

    If you decide to minor in a field that is very different from your major, you may not be able to pursue a career in the field. Minors can be used strategically to open doors for you, but they are not the same as a double major.

    You may want to prioritize employability and major in a more marketable degree or pick the one that interests you the most. There is no right or wrong way to go about it. Just make sure to think it over thoroughly.

    Disadvantages of double majoring

    Despite its benefits, double majoring has drawbacks as well. There’s a reason why only about 25% of students double major. It is very challenging on several fronts. 

    Overwhelming time commitment

    You’ll probably have to complete two senior capstones to fulfill both majors. Second, you won’t have many flexible class spots, so you may not be able to pursue as many other interests. 

    You may be prevented from studying abroad because of the credits you need. The double major could cut into your time for extracurriculars and socializing. It could make college more stressful than it needs to be.

    Delayed graduation

    You may run the risk of graduating late. If you don’t come up with your double major plan within the first 3 semesters of school, it can be hard to meet the requirements in 4 years. There are some challenges and tradeoffs to consider before committing to a double major, especially since it’s committing to double the work.

    Also read: Top 15 college majors for the future

    Questions to ask yourself to help decide

    • How do my fields of study interact and complement one another?
    • What is the overlap between my intended fields of study?
    • Will I be missing out on opportunities to pursue my second interest if I minor?
    • Do I have time to give my full attention to both majors if I double major?
    • Am I set to graduate on time if I add a second major?
    • Can I maintain a balance between my double major and my extracurriculars and social life?

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    Key Takeaways

    Key Takeaways

    • Minoring and double majoring each have their own advantages and disadvantages
    • A minor is essentially a mini major that doesn’t require as many courses that’s paired with your chosen major 
    • A double major requires taking on the requirements of two academic disciplines that are equally demanding
    • Speak with your academic advisor and registrar to get help determining whether either option is possible and give you an idea of what the challenges will be
    • Double majoring opens more doors for you after graduation, but it is a greater commitment
    • Minoring is less difficult, but your second field of study might not be taken as seriously
    • Remember that whatever you decide, you can turn it into the right choice

    Also see: Guide to double majoring and triple majoring

    Frequently asked questions about double majoring and minoring 

    Do minors matter to graduate schools?

    Yes and no. If you’re pursuing a postgraduate degree that’s related to your minor, it can show admissions officers that you already have experience and possibly fulfill any prerequisites. If not, then there’s no way to ensure that your minor will matter to graduate schools.

    Do I have to have a minor?

    No. Some students opt out of choosing a minor since it adds more course requirements on top of the ones for your major. However, you may unknowingly complete a minor if you keep taking classes in a particular subject. Be sure to check in with your advisor to make sure.

    Does my minor have to be related to my major?

    Not at all. Minors can be completely unrelated to your major. Some people choose minors that interest them, and others choose minors that could widen job opportunities and graduate school majors. It’s really up to you.

    Are double majors and a dual-degree the same thing?

    Not necessarily. A double major usually shows as one degree with two specializations while a dual-degree program can be working on a master’s and a bachelor’s degree at the same time. You can still do two undergraduate majors with a dual-degree program, but double majoring is restricted to the same level of study.

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