College students pursuing graduate degrees usually major in one subject and complete their education after the many hours they spend studying and attending classes, to fulfill their course requirements. But those who love education can take their undergraduate or graduate level learning to an even higher level, with two major courses of study, at the same time. To expound on this point – instead of taking up just one major course of study, students can take courses in two different disciplines, simultaneously, and graduate with what is termed a ‘Double Major’.

This guide sheds light on Double Majoring, analyzing whether or not pursuing a Double Major makes sense, what Double Majoring is worth when it comes to potential employers and several important aspects of Double Major programs.

What are Double Majors?

The general definition of a Double Major is basically “one college degree with two subject majors.” Some common examples are – a first major or primary major in Business, and a second major or additional major in Sociology; business majors, such as a first major in business economics, and a second major in political science-economics.

If students have the desire, schedule, and other available resources at their disposal, most universities will allow them to study two disciplines at the same time. However, each university has its specific definition of what constitutes a Double Major, and students should therefore meet with academic advisors of both departments, to understand what undergraduate programs and graduate programs require for Double Majors, what are the classes required in the freshman year, and sophomore year, and what the requirements would be for Double Major combinations.

Dual Majors vs. Double Majors

Many universities use the term Dual Majors, instead of Double Majors, but these may well be just interchangeable terms. However, some universities distinctly define dual majors quite differently from Double Majors.

Broadly speaking, while some schools define Double Majors to mean two majors in completely different areas of study, others use the term dual majors to state the opposite – two majors in similar areas of study.

To state a few examples, two majors – one in Chemical Engineering and the other in Art History, which are unrelated disciplines, and can be termed a Double Majors by some universities, and dual majors by others. Similarly, one major in Business and Economics, and the other in mathematics-economics, which are related disciplines, may be termed a Dual Majors by some universities, and a Double Majors by others.

Students should make sure to check with their academic advisor, to understand how their institution uses these terms.

Dual Degree vs. Double Majors

At some schools, students who Double Major in unrelated fields, like History and Nursing, will get two degrees, and if the student’s majors are in related fields, like Business & Economics, and Commerce, they will only graduate with one degree. In other words, Double Majoring is typically obtaining one degree, while doing a Dual major typically results in two degrees. Exactly how this works will depend on the school’s specific rules, the graduate program, and the two chosen subjects.

There is also the possibility of a Dual Degree at different academic levels. For instance, students may be able to enroll in a Dual Degree program where they earn a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting, along with a Master’s in Accounting. Earned separately, it might take six years to complete both degrees. But with this Dual Degree program, it takes five years.

How to Declare Double Majors?

When students declare a major as an undergraduate, they agree to fulfill the qualification requirements and/or prerequisites of a particular department at the college. Typically, this means a student needs to take a minimum number of required courses/credits within that particular department, plus a selection of elective classes from other departments.

For instance, if students were studying for a major in Economics, there may be a requirement to take their choice of a Science elective alongside. As an undergraduate, the student may also have to declare a Minor (in another department), which requires far fewer courses than the Major course of study.

Declaring a Major at graduate-level degrees is slightly different. Usually, when a student applies to a university, they are also applying for a specific discipline, such as Political Science, History, Physics, Computer Science, etc. That discipline will, of course, have its degree requirements to successfully graduate from the program.

Factors for Students to Consider for Double Majors

Many students entering college, who have a desire to Double Major, must understand a few key factors that could influence their decision, which are:

  • Double Major Combinations
    What are the various combinations in subjects/courses available for Double Majoring?
  • Second Major
    What is the best second major, which can complement or augment the degree?
  • Financial Aid
    What is the access to financial aid the college has, for Double Major students?
  • Dual Degree Programs
    What are the dual degree programs on offer, and what are their course requirements?
  • Higher Earnings
    Will a Double Major result in higher earnings in the job market?
  • Free Time
    Will pursuing a Double Major eat into free time?
  • AP Credits
    Are AP credits accepted by the college, and can they be used for a Double Major?

How to Double Major?

At the undergraduate level, students usually take four years to earn a degree with one major. But if done carefully and with the university’s approval, the student can manage Double Majoring in the same time frame.

Typically Bachelor’s degrees are 120 credits. General education requirements take up about 40 credits, and the major will require about 40 to 50 credits, leaving roughly about 30 to 40 credits available for electives, or that second major. Students will need to take the necessary procedural steps to declare a Double Major officially. Speaking with an academic advisor is often a requirement for students, before acceptance into a Double Major program. The academic advisor can help ensure that the student gets the right courses, in the right order.

Furthermore, students will probably need to complete a special application for a Double Major. This will typically include a course outline or roadmap of how they plan on earning the Double Major. It may also include a statement of purpose that includes the reasons why they want to pursue two majors. Only after the college or university approves the application, is the Double Major possible.

Pros & Cons of Double Majors

A Double Major may well be a tempting proposition, but it does require a lot of extra work and sacrifice to complete. From additional credit hours to giving up time for extracurricular activities, there are generally a few trade-offs and caveats. However, there is no right or wrong answer to the question of Double Majoring. In some instances, it does not help a graduate to earn any more money or have better job prospects, but in other cases, it does.

The following is a list of some of the advantages and disadvantages of Double Majoring:

Pros of Double-MajoringCons of Double Majoring
• Can help improve job prospects
• May increase the student’s earning potential
• Can help develop a deeper level of knowledge
• May present more potential career paths
• Can create a sense of pride and personal accomplishment
• May delay graduation
• Can make college more expensive
• May provide fewer opportunities to explore new areas of study
• Can create a busier academic college life
• May require an early decision to choose a major

Double Major – FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a Double Major worth it?

Compared to just one major, yes. When students can gain knowledge of a master’s program in two areas without going through a full program, it naturally makes Double Majoring worth it. This is especially true in today’s competitive world.

Are Double Majors the same as two degrees?

Does it cost more to Double Major?

How hard is it to Double Major?

How long does it take to Double Major?

Can you Double Major in a Master’s Program?

Can you Double Major online?

Does a graduate with a Double Major earn more?

Do Double Majors apply to a foreign language?


College majors offer more breadth in education to Double Major students, and can potentially result in better career opportunities, often making Double Majoring worth it. But whether students have just completed their bachelor’s degree, or are entering graduate school, it is always advisable to seek advice from the college’s academic advisors, refer to college career guides, or even contact student organizations for exact and more information, and then decide for themselves whether a Double Majors is for them or not. 

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