How do you earn a double major

4 tips on how to double major in 4 years

One of the toughest aspects of going to college is deciding which major to major. Most universities offer tons of majors in many different areas,


One of the hardest parts of going to college is choosing a major. Most universities offer tons of majors in many different fields, so picking just one can be difficult! Good news: many universities allow students to do double degrees. This is a great option for students looking to gain in-depth knowledge of a second area of ​​study.

Although many people have heard of a double major, many are not entirely sure how to do a double major. That's why we're introducing you to tThe general requirements for the double major, then give you two real-life, step-by-step guides for how to double the major at two top universities. In the end we will finish things off four top tips for getting a double major in four years.

So let's dive in!

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The double major: a brief introduction

Before we jump into the pros and cons of How To double the major, let's take a closer look at why someone would double the major in the first place.

What is a double major?

In order to study at your university, you have to declare a major and meet all the requirements to obtain a degree. Your major will place you in a specific field of study. This is the degree you will ultimately earn when you graduate from college.

Here's what we mean: Mark and Stephanie just got inducted into Columbia University, one of the best schools in the country. Mark wants to design incredible buildings, so that's what he decided to do head in architecture, which ultimately earned him a Bachelor of Arts Degree when he graduates.

Stephanie, on the other hand, wants to help the communities to protect the environment better. Because of this, she decided to look into sustainable development. While her major is very different from Mark's, it's also part of the Columbia Bachelor of Arts degree. In other words, although Mark and Stephanie have different majors, they will both get B.A. Degrees when they graduate from school.

A student can earn a dual major if they meet all of the requirements for two separate majors within a college or school!

So let's go back to our example above. Mark decides that he will specifically design buildings that are good for the environment. To learn about both architecture and sustainability, he decides to double the architecture and sustainable design major, since both are part of the same degree and are housed in the same college (i.e., both get a Bachelor of Arts degree from Columbia College at Columbia University).

The best thing about the double major is that it's very flexible. You can choose any two majors as long as they are in the same school or college. Here are some double majors to choose from at Columbia:

  • Physics and Philosophy (Bachelor of Arts)
  • Applied Mathematics and Data Science (Bachelor of Arts)
  • Electrical engineering and technical mechanics (Bachelor of Science)

So when it comes to double major, the sky's the limit!

Ken Treloar / Unsplash

Why would you want to double major?

If you decide to double the major, You undertake to examine two different areas in depth. Often times, this means you take on more work with additional classes, more counseling sessions, and more study time. But there are some pretty great benefits to earning a double major as well. Here are our top three reasons for doing so

# 1: It helps you stand out from the crowd

Since the double degree is challenging, not very many students choose it. In fact, the 2015 American Community Survey census data showed that only 12.5% ​​of people between the ages of 20 and 29 had a double major.

Perhaps more importantly, even though the number of people with college degrees has increased year on year, that percentage has decreased! That means you deserve A double major can help you stand out in a competitive job market. This is also evidence of your ability to plan ahead, work hard, and achieve your goals.

# 2: It makes you a better problem solver

When you double the major, you need to learn how to solve problems in different ways. For example, the way you need to think about a physics problem isn't necessarily the way you would approach an economic problem! The double major teaches you to look at things from new and inventive perspectives.

In fact, many of the world's best inventions came about when someone looked at a problem with new eyes. Take, for example, the invention of Coca-Cola. John Pemberton, the inventor, was a pharmacist who created "Pemberton's French Wine Coca" as a headache remedy. When Atlanta banned the sale of alcohol, he removed wine from its medicine, making it the world's most popular soft drink brands.

This story just shows you how taking a fresh look at a problem can change the world - and the double major gives you the tools to do just that.

# 3: It opens up more career opportunities

Many students choose double degrees because they have a specific career in mind. For example, a double degree in psychology and biology would be useful for a student trying to get into a competitive psychiatry program! A dual major has the potential to make you a better, more specialized candidate for your dream job (or top student school program)!

If you double your major, you will also acquire the knowledge you need to enter two different professional fields. So not only does a double major make you a more impressive applicant, it also qualifies you for more jobs than a single major!

Can you double the major at any university?

While most schools allow students to double the major, Not everyone The school has a dual main program (Princeton does not, for example) Furthermore, not every school names a double major the same thing (we'll look at Stanford, which in a moment names a second major as a "secondary focus").

So if you have a heart for two majors, make sure your dream school allows for double majors. A little research can save you a lot of frustration in the future.

Glenn Carstens-Peters / Unsplash

General requirements for a double major

Now that you know what a double major is, let's talk a little more about how to do a double major. A good way to get a feel for what a double major requires is to start with some general requirements. ((Don't worry: in just one minute we will give you practical examples for double major at two schools with different requirements!)

# 1: the core courses

Generally, universities require students to have completed at least 120 course hours (or around 40 classes) in order to graduate. Some of these hours come from your core courses, or the cycle of lessons that every student must complete before graduation.

Most liberal arts universities have a core that encourages students to take different classes from different disciplines, including math, science, and the humanities. In fact, your core courses are similar to a high school: you take different courses to learn more about many different subjects and to build your knowledge in many different areas. And just like in high school, the goal of your core courses is to help you learn more about the world around you in order to prepare you to "deal with complexity, diversity, and change." This will help you become a rounder person, which is always good!

The first step in dual studies is to understand the core requirements of your university and create a plan for completing these courses. Would you like to see some examples of core university requirements? Look no further! Check out the core requirements for Purdue and Georgetown here.

# 2: the main courses

In addition to your core courses You must take advanced courses in your major to graduate. Once you have decided on a major, your university will provide you with a list of the requirements that you must meet in order to complete your major and earn your degree. Generally, you need to take between nine and 14 grades to complete your major. This is usually a mix of lower and higher level courses designed to provide you with extensive knowledge in the area of ​​your choice.

(Quick note: the number and difficulty of courses you need to take in your major will vary by program, so it is very important that you review the requirements for your major at your university.)

Okay ... what does this all mean for a double major? Well, unlike a student with only one concentration, a double major must meet each requirement for two separate majors! That means you will need to take a few additional courses before you graduate.

So the second step to becoming a double major is: Take a close look at the requirements for your two majors and understand what you need to do to complete the programs in a reasonable time.

Not sure what the key requirements are? Take a minute to take a look at the chemistry major at Northwestern, MIT, and Duke. (You will find that every school is a little different, which is why you need to do your research!)

# 3: The electives

At this point, a double major - especially four years from now - might sound impossible. Trust us: it's not! Because of this, the third step to becoming a double major includes your election credits. One of the biggest tricks to accomplishing this is to align the requirements of your elective with your second major.

But first a little about electives. Your Electives are a series of classes (usually between five and ten) that are included in your core curriculum. In contrast to your other credits, which must come from a specific subject, your electives are essentially “freebies”: you can take almost any class on campus and thus fulfill one of your elective credits! Since there are no rules on how you spend your electives, you can use them however you want. With a little planning, you can turn some off, maybe all! - your second main subject with elective credit.

For example, let's say Vivian has decided to take a second major in chemistry in the Northwest. A chemistry major requires 16 classes, but is allowed to take 5 electives as part of Northwestern's core curriculum. When Vivian uses her elective points for her chemistry major, she only needs to take 11 "additional" chemistry courses to get her second major!

Double-dipping is more than just ice cream!

Rachael Gorjestani / Unsplash

# 4: the double dip

The fourth step to double majoring involves what we like to refer to as a "double dip". Classes are taken that meet two separate requirements. Most universities - but not all, so check again! - allow a course to be credited for fulfilling two different main subjects. Double immersion allows you to maximize the efficiency of your course loading!

So which courses can be counted twice? The short answer is, it depends on the needs of your university. While most schools allow your electives to be credited towards a second major, this is not the case everywhere! The same applies to core courses - at some universities core courses can be credited for a second major, at others not. And none of these scenarios take into account programs specifically designed to assist students with the double major (like Rice's double major in art and art history).

So it boils down to: While most universities allow some degree of double-dipping, how it works varies from school to school. So be sure to check the specific requirements of your university.

Okay, now let's look at an example of double-dipping: Christen has decided to double the major in economics and political science. Political science offers a junior class for international economics, which the economics department has listed as a recognized elective. Having Christians attending this class can make them double immersive by counting them for both their political science and business major!

That makes double dipping like a two-for-one deal, and This can help reduce both the time and financial burden of double majors.

# 5: the time frame

The fourth step to double major is Plan how long it will be to complete your double major.

Many of the top universities, like Yale, require students to get approval prior to double degrees to ensure they can complete their studies in a timely manner. Other schools, such as Brown University, only allow double majors that can be completed in four years.

While most universities understand whether you will need additional time to complete a double degree, it is important that you understand that more time in school can result in higher costs. Knowing how much time you need to complete your degree is important for your education and Your Büdget!

# 6: the review

The last step to double major is actually the most important.

While many of the general guidelines for the double major are the same at all universities, The details - such as which classes are credited for crediting and whether a class can be credited for two main subjects - differ not only according to university, but also according to Program. For this reason, it is important to inquire with each department to understand the individual requirements for the double major. This is why you need to meet with your academic advisors early and often too. They will be your guides (and sometimes your lawyers!) On your way to becoming a double major.

A bird's eye view of Vanderbilt University

Real life example: How to double major in Vanderbilt

Okay, now it's time to apply what you've learned to a real-world example. We will walk you through the entire process of declaring a double major at two of the top universities in the United States. To start with, let's take a look at the double degree at Vanderbilt University. The company is ranked one of the top 20 universities in the country by the US News and World Report.

Vanderbilt has four different elementary schools, so for this example We focus on the biggest thing: that Vanderbilt College of Art and Science.

# 1: the core courses

Like most universities, Vanderbilt requires students to have at least 120 credit hours (or between 30 and 40 courses) to complete their degree, and the first block of courses students must tackle is on the school's core curriculum.

The core of Vanderbilt is called the AXLE program, in which each student, regardless of major, must take three to four writing courses (depending on the AP credit) and thirteen additional courses in liberal arts in six different categories. Vanderbilt gives students plenty of leeway in which courses to meet the core requirements, as long as they fall into the six general categories given. This is great news for double majors!

# 2: the main courses

Now is the time to take a look at what the College of Arts and Sciences needs for a double degree.(Remember: these differ between colleges and programs, so doing a little research is important!) Fortunately, the College of the Arts and Sciences gives students a clear overview of what it takes to major in on their website double. You write that students who choose to study double "Must contain at least 24 credit hours that count towards the major only."

Okay, let's break this down a bit. First, we know this Vanderbilt does Allow double major, which is great news!

Second, they require a certain number of courses specific to each major. In other words, a student must take between six and eight courses just count towards everyone Head. This gives a little room for double immersion, which we will talk about in step 4 below.

Finally, the outline suggests that 24 hours a minimum Requirement. This means that most departments will take more than 24 hours of coursework to complete a major. Here it is important to visit the website of the individual departments and take a close look at the most important requirements. (Vanderbilt College of Arts and Science has 54 majors to choose from, so this may take time. But trust us ... it will pay off in the long run!)

# 3: The electives

Vanderbilt doesn't specifically list electives as part of its core curriculum, but a little bit of simple math shows this On average, a student has about five electoral classes or hours to graduate that are not part of the university core or major. This means that a double major can use these five classes to complete some of the requirements for their second major.

# 4: the double dip

Vanderbilt allows double immersion, which means some of your classes can count towards both majors. As long as each major has at least 24 hours of dedicated credits, students can double immerse with their remaining classes. (Again, the minimum values ​​vary from program to program, so this number can increase depending on your majors.)

Here's an example of how this might work: If Marco is doing dual degrees in English and Creative Writing, he will need to take courses in literary history and different perspectives in literature to earn each degree. An English degree requires 12 hours of these courses and a Creative Writing degree requires 6 hours of these courses. Instead of taking 18 hours, Marco can take the required 12 hours and meet the basic requirements for both courses. He can do this as often as possible, but has to do 24 hours of course work just counts for his English degree and 24 hours of coursework that just counts towards his degree in creative writing.

Depending on whether a student's chosen majors overlap, they can double-dip some classes to kill two birds with one stone!

# 5: Double Major's Explanation

Once you've decided to double the major in Vanderbilt, It's time to explain your dual major to the school. Happens after this You enrolled in the university because Vanderbilt doesn't allow students to declare a double major as part of the admissions process. In fact, double majors are usually declared when a student is either sophomore or sophomore.

If you decide that a double major is right for you, the first thing you need to do is print out a major declaration form. Once filled in, you will need to deliver it to three locations: the College of Arts & Science and both departments you wish to study. You also can't just drop the form - you'll need to meet a college counselor who will go over your statement. This is to ensure that your plan is doable and reasonable. If everything looks good, the consultants sign out on the form. Once you've gathered the required permits and signatures, submit the completed form to the College of Arts & Science and off you go!

The beautiful Stanford Commons at Stanford University

King of Hearts / Wikimedia

Real Life Example: How To Double Major At Stanford

At Stanford things are a little different. In contrast to Vanderbilt, you can only declare one double major within the same Bachelor program. So if you are already working towards a Bachelor of Arts, you can declare a second major that allows this Likewise earn a Bachelor of Arts. you tilt explain a second major that would earn a Bachelor of Applied Science.

In this example, we'll focus on the steps required to double the major and earn a Bachelor of Science degree from Stanford School of Engineering.

# 1: the core courses

To graduate from StanfordStudents have to complete 180 units of the university thesis. This, of course, starts with addressing the school's core courses.

Like Vanderbilt, Stanford gives students a lot of flexibility in following their core curriculum. Each Stanford student must meet what Stanford calls “General Education Requirements,” which include 16 different courses in four different categories. (Stanford accepts AP and IB credits, so this number may be lower depending on which classes you attended in high school.)

While it's important to explore all the opportunities Stanford has to offer, the School of Engineering cautions students to get early math and science credits so they can get started right away when they start working on their major.

# 2: the main courses

The College of Engineering divides the main courses into two categories: the technical core courses and the Depth of the main courses. Every engineering student, regardless of major, is required to take a number of core courses that are unique to the school. This includes:

  • 36 units in math and science
  • Three units (or a course) in technology and society
  • Two courses in technical fundamentals

Like Stanford's general educational requirements, these core technical courses count towards both majors. This means that you only have to take the core courses once while earning your Bachelor of Applied Science.

Once these are completed, a student can begin to delve into the courses of major depth!

The major depth courses are the classes that are specific to each engineering major and must be taken separately for graduation. For example, if you are doing a double degree in electrical engineering and mechanical engineering, you must meet these requirements separately. Even if a class is listed as counting for both majors, you must apply it to one major above the other. That means you need to take around 60 additional credits - or between 15 and 20 additional courses - to receive a double degree in engineering from Stanford.

# 3: The electives

Like Vanderbilt, Stanford does not include a set number of electives as part of its core curriculum. In addition, the main requirements for each program vary significantly! Because the engineering programs are so intense, most students have few electives available. It is therefore important that every single one counts!

# 4: the double dip

As mentioned earlier, Stanford's rules are very clear: They do not allow students to double-immerse to meet their primary requirements, regardless of which college they are enrolled in. While the general educational requirements and the technical core courses can be credited for both major subjects, the specific additional criteria for each major must be completed independently. In other words, you need to take all classes for each major with no overlap!

# 5: Double Major's Explanation

To declare a double major, you have to do this after you have already declared your first major through the office of the university chancellor. Double majors are approved through the same office by submitting the major-minor and multiple-major course approval form. Unlike Vanderbilt, there is no formal approval process for departments. However, it is very important that you meet with the departments independently for advice on how to succeed.

As a school, Stanford is very picky about having students double major. They are committed to helping students graduate in four years, no matter how many majors a student might want to tackle. Actually, Stanford reserves the right to restrict a student to a single major if it takes too long, even if the school has previously approved a student's dual major. Here is the explanation from the registrar's website:

"If the pursuit of multiple majors (or common majors or secondary majors or minors) inappropriately delays a student's progress through Stanford, the university reserves the right to limit a student to a single major and / or one student Awarding a degree Who has met all of the requirements for a degree even though the student did not apply for a degree? Such a person would then be subject to the university's normal rules and restrictions regarding future enrollment or registration.

That said, it is very important that a dual major plan their course work in advance!

We have some great tips on how to speed up your double major

George Hodan / PublicDomainPictures

4 tips to become a double major in 4 years

One of the most common questions asked is can you double your major in four years? The answer is absolute, but it does take some planning and a lot of hard work! Here are four ways you can ensure you graduate from your double major in four years.

Tip 1: start in high school

You can do a double degree in four years from college, but it is even better if you start this work in high school! Here are some ways you can maximize your time now to save time later.

Take dual credit courses

Some high schools allow students to enroll in a local college at the same time for freshman credits for basic classes such as composition or math. When you sign up for a program like this one, you can earn transferable college credits that matter to your university core! However, we recommend that if there is an option, you take AP / IB courses instead of Double Credits as AP / IB courses are generally accepted by all universities, while colons are awarded on a case-by-case basis. (This is because AP / IB tests are standardized, while the rigor of dual credit courses varies from school to school.) If you want to make sure you get the credit you deserve, take AP / IB -Courses and tests the safer choice.

Take AP / IB courses

AP and IB courses are often referred to as "college prep" courses for a reason. Not only are these courses designed to prepare you for the college workload, but they also give you the opportunity to test certain college courses - and sometimes even earn! -. Topping up AP and / or IB classes in high school can help save you time and money as a double major.

Do not be afraid to test

If your high school didn't offer college prep courses, there is still hope! Many universities offer exams (like the CLEP test) that you take in the summer before your first year of study. These work a bit like AP tests, only you don't have to take an AP class to qualify for the exam! Depending on your score, you may be eligible for tax exemption or credit for certain college courses. The availability of these tests varies from school to school. You should therefore inquire at your university which tests are offered.

Tip 2: plan ahead

As Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the author of The little Prince, said, "A goal without a plan is just a wish." To double the major in four years, you need a solid plan. Here are three tips for creating a roadmap for your double major.

Plan your ideal 4-year graduation plan as soon as possible

Planning your courses early is key to maximizing your time and effort. Meet with your advisor and the departmental advisors to create a plan of action. They help students keep track of double majors so they have great insight and advice to help you get your degree on time.

Stick to the plan

If you have your street map, stick with it! If you have problems - like clashing class times - it is important to meet with a counselor. However, working on your plan is a key component of managing your workload while getting your degree on time. (And hey, a lot of students find that a four-year plan does things Fewer stressful because they know exactly what to take each semester!)

Double dip whenever possible

If your university allows for a double immersion, take advantage of this whenever possible. Check out the course catalog and departmental websites to find out which classes, if any, can be credited towards both majors. Also, don't be afraid to speak to your professors and counselors about whether your university has independent study or interdisciplinary programs that allow you to customize your degree while you still graduate on time!

OTA Photos / Flickr

Tip 3: be smart about choosing your majors

To double the major, you must first choose which two majors you want to study. This can be a little tricky, especially if you are curious about a lot of different areas. Here are three tactics you can use to narrow down your choices.

Choose a passion and a job

One way to choose a double major is Combine one of your passions - which may not offer many career opportunities - with a career field. For example, you like to sing, but you don't want to become a professional singer. You much prefer to work as a financial planner. A dual major is the perfect choice for you as it allows you to study your passion (vocal performance) and combine it with a major that will help you in your future career (corporate finance).

Work towards a specific career

As mentioned earlier, there are some career paths that require very specialized knowledge. A double major is a great way to study both areas while earning a degree that sets you apart in a highly competitive job market! A good example of this is someone who wants to become a museum curator. Often times, museums are looking for curators with knowledge of the museum's topic as well as a background in public education, so a double major in art history and education would be especially valuable! When building your double major, ask yourself how you can create a “tailor-made” course that will bring you your dream job.

Choose majors that naturally overlap

There are some majors that naturally go so well with one another that many courses overlap. T.This is a natural fit for a dual major as a student will often attend classes that count for both degrees, whether or not they are actually planning a dual major! This usually happens in related fields such as English and journalism, or in international relations and foreign languages. In some cases, the students find themselves just a few classes before the double major with little additional effort. Check your department website to see if there are any complementary majors that you can take advantage of.

Tip 4: get to know your advisor

This may seem scary the first time you go to college, but remember: your counselors are people who are passionate about helping you make your dreams come true. They are specially trained to help students like you! Here are some of the ways your advisors can help you on your way to becoming a double major:

You can approve your degree program

Some schools require your counselors to sign your double major before you can begin work. This is to ensure that students are in the best possible position to be successful! Getting to know your counselors is an important step in ensuring that you are even approved for your double major.

They give guidance

You are not the first or the last student to double the major. So your advisor already has a good feel for how to complete two majors on time. They can help you choose classes, balance your schedule, and declare your major.

They can help you override them in classes

Lessons can get full quickly! Knowing you, your counselor can make sure you get to the classes on time you need to finish. This includes the ability to enroll you in a "full" class to ensure that you are taking the courses you need when you need to take them.

Crystal / Flickr

What's next?

  • Now that you know what a double major is You might be more interested in a dual degree. Here's a great explanation of the similarities (and differences!) Between the two.
  • If you are a junior or senior in high school and are considering double major, Make the most of your time now. A good place to start is by learning more about how universities are handling AP loans.
  • Did you know that high school can be used to earn college transferable credits? Check out how these courses differ from AP classes to learn more about whether a college credit course is right for you.

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