With today's colleges offering everything from traditional majors and minors to newer courses of study in media, technology and pop culture, college students have many options to choose from. However, they are still faced with problems that college students have faced for years – what combination of majors and minors will best prepare them for the career they want? Double minors and double majors each have benefits, depending on your goals.
Majors vs. Minors
According to Fastweb, a major is a degree, so if you double-major you get two degrees. Minors, though they still appear on your transcripts, are not degrees. According to the University of Washington, they give "you insight into an area you'd like to explore further in your career or in graduate or professional school." To receive a minor, you must generally complete about half of the courses required for that degree, Fastweb notes.
Value of a Double Major
Although many employers simply care that you have a bachelor's degree – regardless of what it is in – Kathy Sims of the UCLA Career Center told Fastweb that students who have "serious concentration" in two areas may look more valuable to employers. Further, because students who double-major have two different degrees, they may be able to apply for more jobs, because some jobs require a specific degree. For example, if you majored in political science but minored in journalism instead of double-majoring, you will not be able to apply for jobs at agencies requiring a bachelor's degree or higher in journalism. Finally, for those looking at specific careers, a double major might be the best preparation. For instance, if you plan to start your own political magazine, you might want to double-major in political science and journalism, because you will need the skills that both majors teach to achieve this goal.
Value of a Minor
Minors have both personal and professional value. According to the University of Washington, "Minors will not necessarily make you more attractive to graduate or professional programs or employers." However, they do allow you to learn more about an area that you are personally interested in but that you do not think you will pursue professionally or that you will pursue on the side of a main career. For example, if you want to go into management, but you have always been interested in music, a major in business and a minor in music will satisfy your personal desire to learn more about music and perhaps teach music lessons on the side. Double-minoring allows you to explore two areas that interest you personally or that you think you may want to specialize in during graduate school. Since most graduate school students pick a specialty, a double-minor will help you on your way to choosing that specialty. Finally, double minoring can help you professionally, if you think you will be applying for jobs outside of your major area. For example, a major in political science with a double minor in business and accounting can help you get a fallback job.
Making a Decision
The decision to double-major or double-minor depends heavily on the areas you plan to pursue and on your future personal and professional goals. When deciding whether you should get a double major or a double minor, weigh several factors. Consider the time commitment and cost of each plan, alongside how it will affect you personally and professionally. In some schools, so many classes overlap that double-majoring may require you to take only one or two more classes than double-minoring. In this case, the major is likely worth the investment. Talk to your advisor, as well as current and previous students, about your professional and personal goals, and consider any advice they give you about double-majoring versus double-minoring.
Miranda Morley is an educator, business consultant and owner of a copywriting/social-media management company. Her work has been featured in the "Boston Literary Magazine," "Subversify Magazine" and "American Builder's Quarterly." Morley has a B.A. in English, political science and international relations. She is completing her M.A. in rhetoric and composition from Purdue University Calumet.