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

If you have a strong interest in two different academic fields, you’ll probably be confronted with a big choice in college. As you choose to pursue both of these interests, you’ll want your degree to reflect both fields of study. 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. We’ll go over what is involved in each choice. Afterwards, we’ll discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Also see: How to pick a major

What is a minor?

A college minor is your secondary academic discipline. It’ll be a focal point of your college education. However, you won’t put the same amount of effort into it as you put into your major. You probably won’t have to complete a senior capstone, and you won’t have to take as many courses. 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 similar course requirements for each of them. 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

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. Because of the lack of strict requirements, it’s also easier to take other courses. You can pursue many different interests with a minor. 

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. If you apply to a position that values the intersection of your two fields of study, you’ll be especially ahead. Minoring shows that you have a well-rounded set of interests and can pursue multiple goals at once.

Advantages of double majoring

Double majoring also has many advantages. 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.

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 is not relevant to the position, they will take your double major as a testament to your work ethic.

If that’s not enough, here’s another reason to double major. As a double major, you’ll 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 professors from different departments, 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

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. If you are enjoying taking courses from different fields in college for fun, minors may impede on your plan. Additionally, they may cut into time that you would have spent doing extracurriculars and making friends.

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.

If you decide to minor, make sure to do some soul searching to decide which of your interests to major in. You may want to prioritize employability and major in the more marketable degree. You could also decide to major in the field that interests you 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 many 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. First, you’ll probably have to complete two senior capstones. Second, you won’t have many flexible class spots, so you may not be able to pursue as many other interests. Third, 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.

You should also consider that double majoring makes it difficult to pursue 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. These are all the challenges and tradeoffs to consider before committing to a double major.

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?

Wrapping up

If you’re still wondering whether you should double major or minor, here are our main takeaways. Minoring and double majoring each have their own advantages and disadvantages. If you think that you are up for the challenge of double majoring, speak with your academic advisor and registrar. They will help you determine whether it is logistically possible. They’ll also give you an idea of what the challenges will be.

While it is a greater commitment, double majoring opens more doors for you after graduation. Conversely, minoring is less difficult, but your second field of study might not be taken as seriously. You’ll have to work harder to find ways in which you can make it apply. Good luck in your decision; remember that whatever you decide, you can turn it into the right choice.

Also see: Guide to double majoring