Can You Have Multiple Majors and Minors in College?

Matters about college majors and minors can cause major confusion and a headache that’s far from being minor. This is especially true when you consider the fact that it’s possible to have more than one major and minor — and a degree, too!

Failure to know your options can lead to either missed opportunities or utter wastage of resources.

Students at the undergraduate level can have multiple majors and minors. They can also have dual degrees. On the other hand, students at the graduate level can have dual degrees only. If one of the degrees they are earning is a bachelor’s degree, then they can have multiple majors and minors, too.

Multiple majors, multiple minors, dual degrees — these things can leave you confused on multiple levels!

If you are bound for college or already in college and about to declare a major and minor, continue reading.

Below, we will discuss just about everything you need to know about getting your hands on more than one majors and minors, as well as the pros and cons of majoring and minoring in more than one subject area.

Does a Double Major Result in a Double Degree?

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Having two majors does not result in having two degrees. Students pursuing a double major will complete two sets of degree specialization requirements. However, they will earn only one degree — a bachelor’s degree. A double major and a dual degree may sound alike, but they are two different things.

Many students think that the reason why double majoring is a good idea is that it lets them get their hands on a couple of degrees. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

If you declare and commit to two majors successfully, you will still earn one bachelor’s degree like everybody else. What you will get is a degree with a double major.

Although it will result in a single degree only, double majoring lets you obtain two sets of knowledge base and skills, which can increase your job market value and profitability.

A 2016 article published by Cambridge University Press said that around 20% of students have double majors.

The same online article revealed that students who double major in business and in a STEM field earn more money than those with just one major. However, students who double major in liberal arts and in business or a STEM field do not generate more cash than those with just a single major.

Speaking of dual bachelor degrees, check Five-Year, Two-Bachelor-Degree Programs at Lehigh University. The university offers combined degrees, such as CSB (Computer Science and Business) or IDEAS (Integrated Degree in Engineering, Arts and Sciences).

Because of these observations, it’s a must that you choose the right combination of majors if you plan on double majoring. If you wish to rake in more income, your career goal should be the primary determining factor.

Related Post: Do College Minors Matter?

Does Double Majoring Cost More Money?

Students with double majors pay more money than students with a single major only. It’s because having two majors at the same time means more credits, classes, and terms. Besides the additional tuition and fees associated with double majoring, other costs like textbooks, food, and housing add up, too.

Choosing the right combination of majors, as mentioned earlier, can increase your chances of getting hired as well as making more money than most other people.

While you might earn more after college, you will have to pay more during college if having a double major is your goal. It’s because of this why it’s not unlikely for students with two majors to experience financial strain.

Adding one extra term or more to your college timetable can leave a massive hole in your pocket before giving you a hefty salary account.

To earn a bachelor’s degree, you have to complete a total of about 40 classes. About 12 of those 40 classes are for your chosen major. Declaring one more major typically requires you to complete around 12 more classes.

Suppose you are a student at Williams College, a private liberal arts college in Williamstown, Massachusetts. The charge per credit hour (based on the academic year 2018 to 2019) is $1,899.

A college class usually consists of three to four credits, which means you have to shell out $5,693 or $7,596 per class.

A major consists of around 12 classes. Due to this, a single major alone at Williams College can cost anywhere from $68,316 or $91,152.

This means that a double major at Williams College can cause you to spend $136,632 or $182,304 before you can get your hands on a degree — that’s one bachelor’s degree with a double major.

Besides money, time is another precious resource that double majoring can consume.

When double majoring, you are practically completing a couple of bachelor’s degree programs. This requires you to stay longer in college than someone who has a single major only.

Usually, one or two more additional terms are needed to complete two majors. However, in some instances, being in college for more than five years is necessary.

Can You Double Major and Have a Minor?

While double majoring, students can have a minor. In fact, some students have double majors and double minors, too. It’s also possible to have three minors, although sticking to one to two minors is optimum. Some colleges and universities do not allow their students to have more than one minor.

It’s not just two majors that you can take at the same time while earning a single bachelor’s degree. You may also declare and devote time to two minors.

You can think of a minor as a mini-major. And just like a major, you should decide on a minor either by the end of your sophomore year of college or at the beginning of your junior year of college.

This will give you plenty of time to get general classes and electives out of the way, letting you focus on your major and minor in your last two years in college.

There are three ways to choose a minor:

  • Opt for a minor that complements your major.
  • Choose a minor for a well-rounded higher education.
  • Go for a minor that lets you follow your passion.

No matter which of the above you wish to use to determine which minor you should declare and commit to, take your time. Make sure that you weigh the pros and cons of taking each one. Otherwise, you might find yourself minoring in two disciplines, which is what some students do — we will talk about this later, so don’t stop reading now.

Do You Have to Have a Minor in College?

At some colleges and universities, undergraduate degree students need to have a minor. Some schools let their students take multiple minors, while others limit their students to one minor only. Taking a minor is possible only when taking a major, which is why graduate degree programs have no minors.

Besides a major, you also have to think about which minor you wish to take.

Most US colleges and universities require their students to have a minor to earn a bachelor’s degree. If you are enrolled at one of them, you have no choice but to declare and complete a minor, whether you have one major or two.

As mentioned earlier, it’s by the end of your second year of college or at the start of your third year of college when you should declare your minor of choice.

However, when applying to colleges and universities via the Common App or Coalition App, you will be asked about the minor you are going to take.

Worry not because you don’t have to commit to the minor you will place on your application.

Academic advisors know for a fact that students who have just stepped foot on a college campus can change their minds at any given time. It’s due to this why, more often than not, fresh college students are given a couple of years to make up their minds before being required to declare their chosen minors.

So, in other words, when it’s time to do so, there is no need to declare the same minor on your application just because it’s what you indicated earlier — you can change it to practically anything you like before your declaration.

Going back to having a minor, students can opt for as many as three minors, depending on whether or not it is allowed at the schools they attend.

If you are a college student where it’s perfectly fine to have more than one minor, a wonderful alternative to having a double major, which can consume lots of time and money, would be having a double minor.

Related Post: 15 Good College Minors

Can You Have Two Minors?

Students can have two minors. As a matter of fact, students can have more than two minors. However, it will depend on the colleges or universities they are attending. At most schools, for instance, students are limited to having two minors. Others limit their students to a single minor only.

It was stated earlier that having multiple majors can take up both time and money.

Since a minor is typically made up of five to six classes only (as opposed to the 12 classes that make up a major), with careful planning, you can earn your bachelor’s degree without staying in college for one or more terms.

Most students go for either two majors and one minor or two majors and two minors.

However, it’s rare for students to have more than two majors and minors all at the same time simply because most colleges and universities do not allow it. This is to keep their students from having confusion over their studies and priorities and not graduating on time.

Instead of having two majors, some students opt for having two minors (and one major). This allows them to have a more remarkable transcript without potentially ending up knee-deep in college debt and experiencing burnout.

Is It Okay to Have Multiple Minors?

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In some cases, having multiple minors can make a college graduate look bad. Potential employers may assume that the individual is unable to make a decision, which isn’t helpful in the workplace. On the other hand, a graduate school’s admissions officer may have doubts about admitting the applicant.

Refrain from assuming that the more minors you have, the more employers will be impressed with you.

When it comes to college minors, the more doesn’t necessarily mean the merrier. If you fail to plan carefully, your transcript and your resume may not look their best.

Having a lot of minors can make you appear flaky rather than smart, which can considerably decrease your chances of landing the job of your wildest dreams.

As a matter of fact, on Quora, a former mid-level engineering manager who hired people confessed that he saw applicants with multiple minors as indecisive and having no idea of what they want.

Earlier, we briefly mentioned three ways to choose a minor.

One of them is going for one that allows you to follow your hobbies or interests. If you feel that taking multiple minors can make your life in college and beyond better, make sure that you are ready to defend your decision during a job interview.

However, it’s not just a potential employer who may find a transcript with tons of minors written on it off-putting but also the admissions officers at a graduate school.

The minors you have taken in college can spell the difference between getting an acceptance letter from the graduate school of your liking and saying goodbye to a master’s degree.

The schools taking a look at your credentials might wonder why you took several different minors rather than have a more focused field of study. 

Related Post: Do Employers Care About College Rankings?

Is a Double Major the Same as a Dual Degree?

A double major and a dual degree are two different things. A double major results in a single degree, usually a bachelor’s degree, with two majors. On the other hand, a dual degree consists of two separate degrees. It can either be two bachelor’s degrees or a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree.

Some students have a hard time telling apart a double major and a dual degree, also sometimes called a double degree.

Better think again if you believe that having a double major is a good idea because it allows you to earn two degrees without going to college from start to finish twice. Majoring in two subject areas, no matter if related to or entirely different from each other, yields a single bachelor’s degree only.

In fact, even if you have three majors, which can be very difficult but doable, you will still end up with one degree.

A double major is harder to complete than a single major.

On the other hand, a dual degree is harder to complete than a double major. More often than not, it will require the student to stay in school for one to two more years. However, completing a dual degree is shorter than taking two college degrees one after the other.

Some colleges and universities allow similar classes from one school and the other to overlap, thus allowing a student completing a dual degree to take only one class instead of two, which is a great time- and money-saver.

Besides earning a dual degree, it’s also more challenging to apply for a dual degree.

That’s because it will require you to go through the application process twice — one for your first degree and another for your second degree. So, in other words, you will have to submit your personal essay, recommendation letters, and other documents twice.

Don’t forget to wait for two responses from two different sets of admissions officers!

A dual degree allows you to earn various combinations of degrees, such as:

  • Two bachelor’s degrees.
  • One bachelor’s degree and one master’s degree.
  • Two professional or graduate degrees.

By the way, at some colleges and universities, a double or triple major in two unrelated disciplines can result in a degree, which means another degree is earned aside from the one the student is already pursuing. If you are attending one of those schools and taking two or more unrelated majors, you could end up with a dual degree.

Just Before You Declare Your Majors and Minors

Earning a bachelor’s degree typically requires you to complete a major and a minor.

In some instances, you may get your degree without taking any minor. But if you want to further enrich your life during and after college and fortify your job market value, you may take more than one major and/or minor at the same time.

Majoring in two or more disciplines won’t give you two different degrees — it will yield a single bachelor’s degree with two majors. On the other hand, minoring in two or more subject areas that are unrelated to each other may result in you earning an additional major, depending on the school.

Just because you can have multiple majors and minors doesn’t mean you should.

Before you declare several majors and minors and commit to them, too, ensure that you take into account some important decisive factors.

They include your academic and career goals, as well as your available budget and time. If it seems like majoring and minoring in multiple disciplines can do more harm than good, then don’t.


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.

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