Choosing your major in college is an important decision. Majoring in two things at once is called a double major and is offered by most higher-learning institutions. Requirements, such as prerequisites and the amount of credit hours needed, are different at each school. Consider all your options before determining which choice is best for you.
Double Major Options
If you are thinking about double majoring, the registrar's office or your college's website can lead you through the process. For example, according to the University of California, Los Angeles website, students are required to declare a primary major and complete all the prerequisite courses for the secondary major before they are permitted to petition for it. Meet with your college adviser and the head of the department that you are interested in adding as your secondary degree to discuss whether or not you are a good candidate for a double major.
Pros of Double Majors
Earning a secondary degree can give you an edge over other graduates seeking employment or entrance into graduate, medical or law school. Studying abroad may make adding a language as your second major relatively easy, suggests information on the Cornell University website. Languages can enhance your primary degree; for example, a political science major with a second major in Arabic, Chinese or Russian may give you an advantage over other candidates for international jobs. Students with a double major report better problem solving and creative thinking skills, according to research conducted by Richard Pitt and Steven J. Tepper, sociologists at Vanderbilt University.
Cons of Double Majors
Before you decide to take on a double major, you should also weigh possible disadvantages. Earning a second degree may take more than eight semesters to complete, limit the ability to widely explore other disciplines and significantly decrease time for leisure or social activities while in college, according to Cornell University's website. Completing upper level work within two subject areas takes organization, commitment and self-discipline. If you are considering adding a second major, take an honest look at whether you have the ability to manage the additional work it will entail.
Making the Best Choice
Determine whether it may be more beneficial to earn a single major and spend an extra two years in graduate school rather than sacrificing a solid grade-point average because you are unable to balance the additional coursework, suggests author Lynn O'Shaughnessy in her article "Is Getting a Double Major a Dumb Idea?" on The College Solution website. If you do decide to add a double major, choose a subject that pairs well with your primary degree, such as education and psychology.
Sharon Bolling holds a master's in counseling and human development with a concentration in school counseling from Radford University. She is an experienced instructor of both high school and college students. She has been writing for Demand Media online since April 2013.