How to Double Major in College (and Not Go Insane)

Posted by IPFW Admissions Team on 8/25/15 8:00 AM

stressed_homeworkMaybe you’re having a tough time deciding between your two biggest passions. Or maybe you want to complement one degree with another. The good news is that pursuing a double major, while sometimes difficult, is completely doable—if you take the necessary steps to plan things ahead of time. The key is to start early.

Schedule Smarter, Not Harder

To stay sane while balancing two majors at once, you’ll want to look for ways to make your class schedule work for you—the old “two birds, one stone” idea.

As an example, both of your majors will likely require some sort of English composition class. Make sure the one you choose will count for both before you enroll.

Some of your “core” courses in one degree track may even count as electives for the other.

Study up on the class requirements for both of your degrees, and then look for overlapping opportunities. This can save you time, money, and stress in the long run, and make your path to graduating that much easier.

Sometimes the way a university counts credits toward a degree can be tricky. It’s therefore a good idea to check in with your academic advisor regularly, to make sure you understand how a class credit will be applied toward one or more degrees you’re seeking.

Consider How Your Degrees Complement Each Other

Some students choose to double major in two disciplines that have very little to do with each other—say, mathematics and art history. While this approach offers a really robust and broad college education, it can make scheduling a bit of a headache when very few degree requirements overlap.

Because of this, if you’re set on double majoring, it’s worth considering two degrees that complement each other in some way. You’re far more likely to find prerequisites and course requirements that overlap in similar or related fields.

Remember, even if you decide to major in one subject, you can typically take several electives in other areas you’re passionate about—you don’t necessarily have to major in it. You also have the option to minor in a discipline, which is less of a commitment and still gives you the opportunity to explore different fields that interest you.

Are You Definitely Sure You Want to Double Major?

There are a few standout benefits to double majoring, including:

  • Extending your knowledge beyond one subject
  • Deepening your knowledge in more than one academic discipline
  • Diversifying your résumé for future job opportunities
  • Developing fundamental career skills like time management and responsibility

But there are some drawbacks, too, such as:

  • A more intensive course workload
  • Complex class scheduling, since you’re trying to fit more requirements into the same amount of time
  • More focus in two areas could potentially result in less time spent on both, leading to lower subject comprehension or even lower grades
  • Lengthy programs could potentially delay your graduation, depending on the workload you choose to take on each semester 

We’re not trying to dissuade you, of course. But we do encourage you to really think about the goals you’re setting for yourself.

Making a list of the reasons why you want to double major can help you check your expectations—and it will be handy to have around later in the semester, when you’re feeling a little less enthusiastic about taking 20 credit hours at a time.

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Topics: Choosing a Major





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