Double Majors. Double Degrees. What does it all mean?
So I wanted to write today about something that is quite complicated but something that I would have loved to have known before heading into university, and it relates to what you can study. It’s the idea of a double major.
‘What is a double major?’ you might be asking yourself. And it’s a fair question because the term ‘major’ isn’t exactly made that clear to high school students.
Basically a major is the core of your study, the main thing you do at university. You might say that you study a Bachelor of Arts, but what you’re really studying is English, History, Dance or Cultural Studies etc – these are your ‘major’ areas.
So a double major is, basically, where you study two different areas in order to qualify as being educated in those specialties – say, environmental earth science and geology. Keep in mind that you don’t have to commit to a major in order to take subjects from another faculty – that’s what electives are for.
Why would anybody want to complete a second major? Can you do two completely different majors or do they have to be similar? And how is that any different to doing a double degree?
I’m going to answer that last one first because it’s the most important. If you want a degree that is going to give you a wide range of expertise and you want/need that for your career, then a double degree is for you – two degrees, each with a single major. It takes 4 years to complete a double degree [except for Law degrees] but at the end you’ll come out with a more robust education.
Now, if you want to take a degree with two similar areas of interest [eg Biology and Chemistry], or you want a degree that allows you to take up another major for interest or possible use in a career [eg Biology and English], then a double major is for you. So let’s say you want to study Biology and English – you can do the double major under one degree OR you can take a 4 year B Science with B Arts. The difference between them? The number of years you study, the number of degrees you end up with and the number of subjects you can take.
However, let’s say you want to study English and Writing – there’s no sense in a double degree here, so you’d pick up a B Arts and complete a double major, as you would for B Science with Biology and Chemistry.
Make sense? The choice boils down to what you think is more appropriate for your future employment. Double major = picking a second area for interest or picking two closely related majors; double degree = picking two different areas of study for career purposes [Arts/Commerce, for example].
OK, now I want to give you three reasons why you should consider a double major or a double degree:
1) Employability. Employers love graduates with varied background and skills – the more knowledgeable you are, the better. It’s all about having an edge over other graduates. Professional accounting and a French major could get you places.
2) Diversity. Want to take a writing major alongside your physics? Want to study ancient history with your marketing? Why not? You’re at university to learn, so there’s no reason you should box yourself into a single faculty.
3) And lastly, for fun. No kidding. You get to see completely different parts of the university and meet people that you would otherwise miss out on seeing.
Confusing? It is for me. My advice, search here for the degrees and majors you might be interested in: