4 Steps To Deciding If Double-Majoring Is For You

Earning two degrees while in the undergraduate part of your studies may sound appealing and there’s no denying that it certainly looks prestigious on your resume.  There is, however, a checklist of things to consider before signing yourself up for a double load of courses.  Here are some thoughts that I had before I decided that a double major was the academic path that I wanted to take.

1. What Do You Want to Study?

The first question that most students struggle with is what exactly they want to study.  Because more and more undergraduate students are entering college undeclared, there is an air of uncertainty that students are facing while deciding on an area of concentration.  Pursuing a double major will give you more flexibility in choosing classes because you will be taking a larger breadth of material, but this is not to be confused with being unsure of what you want to study.

In my personal experience, I was toying with the idea of law school but at the same time wanted to study technology and communication because that was my greater personal interest.  As a result, I decided on a double major that would fit my goals as well as complement each other.  Though it is not required, it is preferable to choose majors that fit well together.  That way, you can apply similar concepts and thinking strategies between classes instead of having to switch mental caps every time you take a class from the other major.

2. What Benefits or Consequences Will a Double Major Have for You?

Think about specifically what you can do with your two majors.  If you’re uncertain about any one major, you don’t want to wait too long before you figure that out.  It’ll be frustrating to find out a year and a half into your double major course load that it’s not for you and that you essentially wasted that time when you could have been taking other classes.  Keep in mind that a double major means more work because you’ll be focusing on two subject areas instead of just one.  Additionally, the course work may keep you in school for more than the usual four years.  Financially, consider whether this is viable for you.

I have taken summer courses to fulfill requirements and while I enjoy the experience of staying on campus during my vacation and studying for my majors, some students may want to take the summers off from school and pursue other interests.  There are other ways to increase your course breadth if you’re simply looking for a way to broaden your academic horizons.  Many schools offer minors or elective courses that you can take regardless of your declared major.  It’s possible to even declare interdisciplinary studies major to build a course schedule that is geared completely for you.

3. What Is The Process of Declaring a Double Major at Your School?

One big problem that potential double major students run into is the bureaucratic procedure of declaring a double major.  Different schools have different policies.  Some schools require that you finish all the lower division requirements of both majors before being able to declare.  Other schools require a specific GPA with a portion of the courses completed.  Schools may also distinguish between a double major and a simultaneous major.

At my school, multiple majors within the same area of study are considered a double major.  So in my case, since both my majors (media studies and political science) are within the Undergraduate College of Letters and Sciences, it is considered a double major.  But if I wanted to study Political Science and Chemical Engineering, Political Science is in the Undergraduate College of Letters and Sciences while Chemical Engineering is in the Undergraduate College of Chemistry.  Because the two majors are within difference colleges, this would be considered a simultaneous major.  Be sure to check which one you’re applying for in order to avoid confusion and more paperwork later on.

4. Talk to an Advisor

Lastly, be sure to grab hold of your resources and talk to an advisor.  You will most likely have to run your plans of double majoring by them anyway so it’s better to get an opinion earlier on in the game.  An advisor will be able to help you plan your coursework and give you advice about whether a double major is right for you.

Additionally, they’ll be able to provide a course plan to see if you can graduate within the usual four-year period or if you’ll need to stay for summers or even an extra year.  Advisors are your best resource to help you make the final decision.

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Clara Ma

Clara Ma

Clara is a third year student attending the University of California, Berkeley currently pursuing a double major in Political Science and Media Studies. Her school activities include being a captain on the Cal Dance Team, being a Campus Ambassador, as well as being part of THRIVE Dance Company. She enjoys living vicariously through others on the Internet, keeping up with pop culture on Tumblr, and watching a copious number of television shows (namely Sherlock and How I Met Your Mother).