The benefits of double majoring

Research shows double majoring is a viable option for all students.

Daily Editorial Board

One of the biggest challenges incoming college students face is deciding which career path they want to pursue. Some students feel pressured to pick majors based on their parents’ inclinations. Others know what their professional goals are after graduation but become discouraged by intermittent periods of coursework that fester into plagues of seeming irrelevance. There is also a growing number of students who are finding they can fuse their identities and career goals together by choosing a customized combination of majors.

A five-year study conducted by the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy at Vanderbilt University surveyed 1,760 undergraduate students at nine universities and colleges, varying in size and public or private status.

Students were asked to comment on their reasoning and motivation behind choosing a second major. One of the most interesting findings coming out of the report concluded “many students report that their double major combination helps them think differently, solve intellectual puzzles and approach assignments more creatively” and that “these gains are greatest when students major in two disparate domains of knowledge, especially combining science with art and humanities.”

The study also maintained that most students choose a double major at least in part for a competitive advantage in the job market or for applications to professional schools.

Students shouldn’t shy away from a heavier workload either, as students involved in the survey generally reported they were able to study two majors “without major sacrifices to their extracurricular lives.”

In a competitive job market, having two majors on a résumé can give graduates a leg up, and institutions like ours should do all they can to encourage cross-field collaborative learning for all students.