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What Is a Double Major?

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Question: What Is a Double Major?
You may have heard friends, family, or your fellow students talk about double majoring ... and you, like many other folks, may not be totally clear on what exactly that means. So just what is a double major anyway?
Answer:

Getting or being a double major usually means one thing: you're getting two degrees. But what exactly that looks like during your time in school is all in the details.

If you graduate with a double major, you get to list two degrees on your resume. So say, for example, that you double majored in Psychology and Sociology. On your resume, then, you can list the following:

  • B.A., Psychology, ABC University
  • B.A., Sociology, ABC University

Earning a double major, however, is much easier said than done. In order to graduate with two degrees, you need to do a lot more work than students graduating with just one major.

Fortunately, however, you can often use many of the same classes toward your two majors if you choose to. So if you need, for example, one year of a language to earn a degree at your school, you can use the Spanish class you took as a college freshman toward both degrees (instead of having to take one year of Spanish and another year of another language). Once you get to upper-division level courses, however, things get more complicated.

You may not be allowed to use upper-level courses (i.e., those that are not gen. ed. requirements, those that require prerequisites, or those that begin with a certain number in the course catalog) for both majors or you may be limited with how many classes you can use toward both degrees. For example, you might only be allowed to have 4 of the courses you took for your Psychology degree also count toward the 10 required for your Sociology degree.

There are definitely some challenges with double majoring. You often need to decide to do so early in your college career, as you'll need to make sure you can get in all the classes you need for both majors. You won't have a lot of space in your schedule for electives or classes that you just find interesting if they don't count toward your degree(s). And you'll likely have a very difficult schedule your junior and senior years, as nearly all of your classes will be upper-level courses with heavy workloads.

There are, though, obvious benefits, too. You graduate with two degrees and will have a wealth of information about two fields you (hopefully!) love. Considering the pros and cons of double majoring is much easier, of course, when you are clear on what exactly a double major looks like at your school -- and if you're willing to put in the extra work for the extra rewards.

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