Choosing A Major? Don’t Double Major

Why you shouldn't double majorAre you considering a double major? I think you should stop.

In this post, I’m going to explain why false assumptions lead people to take on two majors, and miss out on fun, rewarding college experiences.

First, I want to address a couple necessary details. I know that some schools have majors (like journalism) that require a double major and in that situation you don’t have an option.

In addition, some majors are so similar to others that you can get a double major by taking four extra classes. I won’t disagree with doing this.

Also, so someone doesn’t get pissed off and try to explain their individual case, I’ll concede the possibility that a double major might make sense for some unique situations.

But, these cases are few. The rest of you, don’t double major. I’ll explain why you shouldn’t.

Reasons Students Consider Taking A Double Major

Reason 1: After accomplishing a lot in high school, many students get to college and things are different. It’s a new world with higher expectations.

They know that they want to be in a position to be successful after school, but they don’t think hard about what they want their career to look like.

Their end goal is to have an advantage over their peers during senior year when they’re applying to different jobs or grad schools.

Besides wanting a decent or high GPA, one of the first ideas that comes to a student’s mind to get an advantage is to double major. Instead of considering other solutions, they try to find two majors that seem complementary.

Reason 2: This is another familiar situation, mommy and daddy expect their son or daughter to major in something that gives them a higher chances of getting a job, but the student’s true interest is in something more creative, like a major in the humanities.

Either because their parents are paying for school, or they don’t want to be a disappointment, students begrudgingly decide that the best solution is to make everyone happy. So, they major in what their parents want, and then add another major for their personal interest.

Or, they really can’t decide between two majors, so they take both of them.

Reason 3: Because of our upbringing through society, we all hear the lesson that success comes through hard work. But, somewhere in this process, we lose the meaning of hard work and replace it with stressful sacrifice. This is the reality for many students.

Students want to be successful and happy after school, so they decide to double major and go through stressful semesters with the idea that it will provide future enjoyment. In other words, many students decide to “suck it up” for four years, so they can reap the benefits and live a fulfilling career later.

Although this is similar to reason 1, it is different if you break it down. The mindset behind this reason, is that the more sacrifice you put yourself through, the happier you will be in the future.

Rebuttals Against These Reasons

Rebuttal To Reason 1 (Double-majoring helps you get ahead in the job search).

The fact that having two majors will help you get a job is a false assumption that somehow has stuck on college campuses. There are no statistics that prove double-majoring helps you in the job market. Cornell’s website supports this fact.

double major doesn't help

In many cases, going through a double major can hurt your marketability.

For one, sometimes your course load makes you take 20 credits during the semester and on top of that, summer classes. With all that time devoted to school, you won’t get the internship experience or extracurricular involvement that students with one major can complete. This is detrimental because many companies look for candidates with strong internships and campus activities.

Second, double majors often require a fifth-year or more to complete. From my understanding, employers want applicants who graduated in four years. Also, staying an extra semester could throw off the interview process. This could be hard if you’re applying in spring and miss the big on-campus recruiting day that happens in the fall.

Rebuttal To Reason 2 (You can’t decide between two majors—maybe because of mom and dad—so it’s a good decision to keep them both).

At this point of your life, you need to start making your own major decisions. Don’t think you’re taking the easy way out at the time by picking both majors. This is actually the harder decision, because you’re probably doubling your credit requirements.

Instead, look at the end goal of what you want your career to look like, and then go backwards and find what can get you there and what is interesting. This will lead to success, not doing something for someone else.

If your parents want you to major in business, but you’re not interested, then tell them that. Also, communicate that you don’t want to work in a finance, accounting, or marketing job after you graduate, so it doesn’t make sense to major in one of these fields.

Rebuttal To Reason 3 (You’ll suffer now, so you can be happy later).

If your mindset is to suffer now, so you can be happy later, you need to ask yourself the question when does this philosophy stop? If you continue to think this way, you might fall under its curse until you’re retired and spent most of your life unhappy.

To be successful, you don’t need to stress out and take 20 credits. You can take 15 credits and use your extra time to go really in-depth about a subject.

Just like the thought that double-majoring gives you an edge over other students, there is a false assumption that you need to suffer and stress so you can eventually be successful, and then happy. It’s actually the opposite.

When you find what you’re truly interested in and what you can potentially see yourself doing the rest of your working life, it’s fun. Learning more and getting closer to your goal is an energizing and rewarding experience. You’ll still have to work hard, but it will be enjoyable, not painful.

Better Solutions

It wouldn’t be fair to tell you not to double major, without giving you other (and in my opinion better) solutions including: interning, doing research, working, starting a major project, leading in a student organization or club, or serving the public. Spending your out of class time on these areas can not only make you happier, but be more rewarding and beneficial to your career.

If you feel like you’re missing out by not taking a second major, you can minor in it for less than half the credits.

My broad recommendation for students is that they take no more than 18 credit hours a semester. College should be fun. Developing skills is important, but practicing happiness is just as important.

In my opinion, the sacrifices of having a double major doesn’t equal the reward. By taking less credits, you open yourself up to a happier and a more successful college experience. This strategy can also lead to less time in school (so less debt), and a better life after graduation.

So, those are the reasons I’m taking a position against students having a double major. Do I think that this advice helps students? Yes, otherwise I wouldn’t write about it. Will people disagree? I’m sure.

Comment below if you agree or disagree. I’d love to discuss this topic further.

Brian Robben

Brian Robben is the founder of Take Your Success, a site dedicated to helping entrepreneurs and wantrepreneurs grow a profitable business and reach freedom. For in-depth training, visit:

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Robbie

    Lol first to comment. Double majoring doesn’t necessarily mean your losing out on the working/internship/volunteer opportunities, as many of the credits used for the double major is from the “extra” courses you get when completing a degree, freeing up decisions so you can maximize these opportunities. Getting to know the different proffs in each department have opened up opportunities for me to do a few internships, which have also gave me people to ask for reference letters needed for post-graduate programs. If a person finds a stream of courses they like that happen to be in the same subject, it wont be that hard to do what interests them. Summer school is usually never needed, unless you want to do it (there are some exceptions), and a double major is easily done in 4 years. I don’t regret doing my double major (in my 4th year now), and I have boat loads of time to enjoy myself with extracurricular activities, family, and friends (many of which I have actually met because I have double majored). It also gives me a chance to explore myself and see what path may make me happier in the future, along with giving me opportunities to use both majors in a job to increase my fulfillment.

    At the same token I don’t recommend everyone do it either, as everyone is different, and may not be well suited to do it. Doing a minor with a major or staying a single major may be better for some.

    1. Brian Robben

      I initially conceded that double majors make sense for some people, so I’m glad you’re one of them! What are your two majors? I’m curious.

      (I also think you should know that I take some slightly controversial positions to drive discussion and get people to think more deeply about a topic. Doesn’t always mean I 100% agree.)

      1. Robbie

        Criminology and history, with the history geared toward north american law. I figured it would help me in the long run with being a judge, as I would need to know the precedent system (the history), and the law system itself (criminology). It’s nice to see that discussion is being made, as the pot needs to be stirred to get a better understanding of the issues and information

        1. Brian Robben

          That makes sense. But, you could be a theatre major and go to law school to become an incredible judge, too, just so you know.
          Haha I’m working on making it appear higher on Google, takes years!

  2. Marlyne

    I’m doing a double major and I’m really enjoying it. I find that my two majors complement each other quite well. It’s actually the school who offers the program that I am in already as a double major, so I know many students have already done it and their timetable isn’t too heavy. It also doesn’t obligate me to take an extra year.
    I go to the University of Ottawa and my program is the Joint Honours Bachelor in Economics and Political Science, if you were wondering.

    1. Brian Robben

      I assume a decent amount of your classes helped fulfill requirements for both economics and political science. Is that correct? My main concern is for the students double majoring in unrelated majors who don’t have overlapping classes… And I’m glad it’s working well for you, Marlyne! Appreciate the feedback.

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