How Hard Is It To Double Major? (With Student Quotes)

Students in college frequently ask me how difficult it is to double major. They are curious about if pursuing two degrees in college is doable without going crazy.

This essay will provide a response to that query and detail the difficulties involved with pursuing two majors simultaneously. Along with that, I’ll give you my best advice for maximizing your college experience while pursuing two majors.

I’ve answered this question tens of thousands of times over the years, and I’m glad to do it now.

How Hard Is It To Double Major?
How Hard Is It To Double Major?

What Is a Double Major?

A double major is when you study two subjects at the same time. The result is one bachelor’s degree in the same school with two specializations. Normally, a student declares one major, Accounting in the Business School. A double major is choosing another major, e.g. Finance, in the same Business School. You will achieve one bachelor’s degree with a double major.

As a single major student, you graduate from school declaring one major and meeting all of its requirements. Students can earn a double major if they fulfill all the requirements of two different majors within one college. Let’s look at another example.

Chris is accepted to Stanford University and declares Computer Science as his major in the Stanford Engineering School. What Chris really wants to do is study Computer Engineering (CE), but Stanford doesn’t have a specific Computer Engineering Major. So what he needs to do is design his own major in the Engineering School.

Chris talks to his advisor and they decide on a CS/EE double major, with Electrical Engineering as the secondary major. Since Computer Science (CS) and Electrical Engineering (EE) are both in the Engineering School, it would be a double major. 

At Stanford, the minimum number of credit units required for an undergraduate degree is 180 units for one major. As a double major, Chris would need a minimum of 240 units and ensure he completes all the required CS and EE courses. 

Double Major vs Dual Degree: Are They the Same?

Dual degrees and a double major are not the same thing. One degree with two distinct majors will come from a double major. A dual degree will produce two distinct degrees, each with a different major. Due to the rarity of course overlap between the two degrees/majors, earning a dual degree is more difficult. Students will have to take additional courses in order to graduate as a result.

In fact, I believe many individuals conflate them. Let me clarify the differences between a dual degree and a double major if you’re not sure whether to declare one or the other.

When you study two topics concurrently at the same university, you have a double major. This implies that you complete two degrees at a single university school. CS and EE students, for instance, might study together in the engineering school.

When you pursue a dual degree, you study two subjects at various institutions. You would then receive two distinct bachelor’s degrees. You would have a Bachelor of Arts (B.A), Bachelor of Science (B.S), and/or Bachelor of Arts and Science (B.A.S).

A dual degree involves more effort than a double major, which is the key distinction between the two. You must fulfill the criteria for both degrees when you declare a double major, however since they are both offered by the same university, many of their core courses will overlap.

You must satisfy the criteria of both majors and schools to get a dual degree. Chris, for instance, wishes to graduate from Stanford with a dual degree in Computer Science and Economics. For a B.S., he would have to satisfy the Engineering School’s criteria for the CS major, prerequisites for a B.A. in the School of Humanities and Sciences include a degree and an Economics major. Degree.

Candidates for dual degrees and double majors will be subject to varying requirements from various colleges. Check the admissions requirements of the colleges you are attending or considering.

Double Major Will Require Extra Studying
Double Major Will Require Extra Studying

Why Would You Want to Double Major?

The benefit of double majoring is that you can pursue your passions in greater depth than you might have anticipated. You are free to take your own path and test out alternative options.

Additionally, you can experience various fields at once by choosing a double major. You’ll get an advantage when applying to graduate programs if you accomplish this.

Here are some of the main reasons that students decide to pursue a double major. 

1. You Want to Make Yourself More Marketable

Double majoring is challenging, but not impossible. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort, earn an extra degree will definitely help you stand out in today’s competitive job market.

It shows recruiters and potential employers that you’re willing to put in the work and have what it takes to succeed. And if you’re already planning ahead, then you’ll be ready when opportunities present themselves.

2. You are Able to Apply for Jobs in Multiple Fields.

Double majoring opens up many career opportunities. When you double major, you get the knowledge you need to go into two different careers. Not only will your resume show that you’re well-rounded, it’ll also qualify you for more jobs than if you had just done one major.

3. You Want to Be a Better Problem Solver

When you major in two subjects, you get to see them both from different angles. You might even come up with something completely original. This can really benefit you as a problem solver.

Can You Double Major at Any University?

Although most colleges permit it, not all of them have a double major program in place or may call it by a different name.

For instance, Princeton does not officially offer a double major program. The secondary major is what Stanford University refers to as.

Students typically have the option to continue pursuing their second major at colleges without a double major program. As an illustration, Princeton provides a certificate program that gives you a framework and official acknowledgment for meeting prerequisites. Simply said, a second major won’t be given any official recognition.

Make important to research the policies of your prospective school before applying if you’re considering earning degrees in two separate disciplines. Avoid enrolling in a college that won’t be able to offer you the support you require.

Double Major Needs Extra Effort
Double Major Needs Extra Effort

How Hard is it to Double Major?

It is challenging and requires a lot of time and work to double major. Being a double major is more difficult than being a single major since you must organize your course schedule for each semester. After carefully selecting your first major, you should consider what you want to study in-depth for your second major.

A double major may extend the standard four-year bachelor’s degree completion time. To finish both majors, you’ll need to take more courses. The additional courses you’ll need to enroll in will typically be more difficult because they are also required for your major.

Let’s look at the main reasons that being a double major is hard. 

  1. Poor Planning Will Lead To Extra Courses
  2. More Core Courses Will Make It Harder 
  3. Unrelated Majors Can Be Hard To Manage

1. Poor Planning Will Lead To Extra Courses

When someone tries to double major, one of the largest issues they run into is improper study planning. Some people start off by selecting a major that interests them, and once they’ve begun their studies, they discover other subjects that fascinate them. However, it’s not always the ideal strategy to double major.

Based on what you want to do with your life, you should pick your first major. Finding lessons that will support your ambitions should be your first priority if you already know what you want to do. You should take some general education courses if you aren’t sure what you want to pursue yet. You will have a solid basis for your future job after taking these courses.

You should decide the courses you wish to take for your second major after selecting your first. These courses can be taken as a complement to your first major or as a way to strengthen it. You must select courses that complement your first major in any case.

2. More Core Courses Will Make it Harder

When you add another major to your list of courses, you increase the amount of work that you need to do. This means that you’ll need to spend more time planning and managing your course load. You’ll also need to devote more time to reading books and writing papers. 

The additional courses you add will also usually be the required core classes for the second major, so they’ll usually be harder. They’re not elective courses that may potentially be a little easier. Core courses for majors are usually more difficult than electives. 

A double major will require you to work hard because you will not have any easy electives to help you boost your GPA. A high GPA is very important when applying to a good master’s program. In addition, a high GPA will also help you in your career. You’ll get hired right after graduation if you have a high GPA.

3. Unrelated Majors Can Be Hard To Manage

You might not be aware of how much the subjects you choose overlap until you declare a second major. If one of your majors has a close connection to the topic area of the other major, there may be a lot of overlap.

You will need to take additional classes to meet the criteria for the two majors when there is little overlap between them.

Your chosen classes will be prerequisites for both majors if the two are related. That will enable you to use your time more effectively. You can live a more private life and set aside time for your loved ones.

Double Major Leads to Extra Work
Double Major Leads to Extra Work

4 Tips to Double Major in 4 Years

Double majoring is possible if you plan ahead and put in the effort. You need to choose two majors carefully and stick with them throughout college.

If you change your mind about what you want to study after freshman year, then you will not be able to complete your degree in four years. Make sure that you pick classes that are related to each other and that you enjoy.

College students often complain about how hard it is to juggle classes, extracurriculars, and jobs. But there are many ways to make sure you’re getting the best out of your time at college.

If you want to double major within four years, here are some tips to help you achieve that.

1. Start Earning College Credits in High School


While still a high school student, you should begin earning credits.

To receive college credit, you should enrol in AP or IB courses. AP courses are created especially for students who want to attend a prestigious university. An AP class aims to get you ready for success at the next level. Depending on the college, taking AP classes and getting high exam scores can allow you test out of foundational courses and potentially get you college credit.

At a nearby institution, you can enroll in dual credit courses for freshman courses like math and composition. This will enable you to obtain transferable college credit prior to enrolling in a university. You must first confirm that the universities you want to apply to accept credits from your community colleges. Trying to get college credit while still in high school is safer with AP/IB programs.

For incoming freshmen, some universities provide summer test-out tests. With the results of these exams, you can skip the prerequisite courses and enroll directly in upper division classes. When considering a double major, this is useful. You can look into the 2,900-university College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) offered by the College Board.

2. Plan Ahead

Always have a clear understanding of what you hope to gain from college before you begin. Even if you don’t immediately know what you want, you should at least have a general notion. You will never succeed if you don’t know what you desire.

So consider your goals for the future before you start making plans for education. Which profession do you want to pursue? Do you desire a career in medicine? A lawyer? an engineer? Or perhaps you want to explore every culture on the planet.

Whatever your objectives are, put them in writing. Make sure your objectives are reasonable. If you want to become a doctor, don’t anticipate attending law school right away. If you aspire to be an astronaut, don’t expect to become a doctor. Your goals should be a reflection of your hobbies and personality.

3. Be Smart About Picking Your Majors

Prior to double majoring, decide the two majors you want to concentrate in. There are techniques to narrow down your alternatives, even though you’ll certainly have several.

Consider what kind of career you want to pursue after graduation as one strategy. Consider studying political science or economics if you’re thinking about attending law school. Consider studying biology or chemistry if you want to attend medical school.

Another choice is to consider your favorite pastimes. A fine arts degree can be something you seek if you enjoy the arts. Or perhaps you simply want to be well-rounded, which is why you want to pursue an education. Whatever your motivation, you should choose two topics that you are passionate about.

4. Get to Know Your Advisor

Your advisors and professors are there to help you succeed, so you should take advantage of their experience and get to know them as early as you can.

Your advisors are specially trained to help you pursue your goals and achieve your dreams. Here are some of the things your advisors can do to help you:

  • Help you plan your schedule, so you can graduate on time.
  • Provide academic support and guidance.
  • Review your progress and make sure you meet your deadlines.
  • Offer advice on how to improve your grades.
Work with College Advisor on Double Major
Work with a College Advisor on a Double Major

Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing a Double Major

Any student must carefully consider their major choice. It could seem impossible to find enough classes to satisfy all of your interests because there are so many different course options available.

But with so many alternatives, picking a major can sometimes be challenging. The possibilities could overwhelm you, and you might start to doubt your ability to find employment after graduation.

However, think about these issues before deciding on a major:

1. Does a Double Major Align with Career Goals?

Consider the prerequisites for each major to see whether they complement your career objectives if you want to work in a certain industry. For instance, computer science may be one of your key choices if you wish to work as a software developer. But if you want to pursue medical, biology or chemistry would be better choices.

It should be simple to reduce your options if you are certain of what you want to do.

But if you aren’t yet certain of your career ambitions, you might choose to begin with just one major. There is absolutely no necessity or justification to select a second major.

2. Would a Minor or Graduate Degree Be a Better Fit?

A minor or graduate degree could be a better choice than a double major. A minor usually requires fewer credits than a double major, and it may allow you to take more electives. A graduate degree typically takes longer to complete, but it gives you more flexibility and knowledge.

You should also consider whether a minor or graduate degree would better prepare you for your future career. If you know what you want to do when you graduate, then you don’t necessarily need a double major. But if you haven’t decided exactly what you want to do after college, then you might want something that allows you to explore new ideas.

3. Can You Graduate in Four Years With a Double Major?

Most students want to graduate college in four years because an extra year of school also means more tuition. That means you should try to find two related majors that will have overlapping course requirements. 

If you are thinking of pursuing two majors, you should meet with an academic advisor in either your freshman or sophomore year to discuss what classes you need to take in order to complete both degrees.

Your academic advisor can help you understand more specifically what courses you need to take in each degree program, and whether or not there are any prerequisites. The advisor can also help you understand how credits transfer between programs, and if you might be eligible for a waiver. 

Taking courses at Summer Sessions may help you finish your degree sooner. You can choose to take classes in two different areas, or even pursue a minor or double major.

4. What Does Your Advisor Think About a Double Major?

If you are considering a double major, discuss the steps required to get there with your present advisors. They may provide you with information on the courses you must take in order for them to consider your application, as well as the ones that are prerequisites for each major.

The number of credits you will need to transfer from one major to another can also be advised by them.

Additionally, your advisor can assist you in determining whether to pursue a minor rather than a double major. You might be able to graduate sooner by selecting a minor over a double major because minors are frequently simpler to finish.

Your advisor can help you weigh the benefits and drawbacks of a double major since it might not be very advantageous in the long run.

Is a Double Major Worth It?

The time and effort it takes to complete two majors at once can be well worth it if you declare a double major. It might result in more lucrative career possibilities and income.

The following are the key advantages of a double major:

  • Greater variety of employment options at your disposal.
  • Being paid more than those with a single major.
  • More alternatives for master’s degree subjects.

It’s crucial to keep in mind that this kind of education has its own unique set of difficulties. Sometimes it’s not worthwhile to pursue two majors. You must balance the expenses and rewards. Do you have the time and effort to pursue two majors?

Double Major Final Thoughts

It is definitely possible to double major. But it necessitates a lot of preparation and effort. Being a double major is not something to be taken lightly, but it is possible to complete two majors in the same four years of college with careful planning and enthusiasm.

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Written by:

Chris Wood
I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Stanford University. I’ve been working as a Software Engineer for the past 5 years. While working in this field I’ve had the pleasure of developing software in a wide variety of industries. I look forward to using my experience in order to find a role where I can utilize my creativity and passion for solving complex software engineering problems.

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