Are Double Majors Worth It?

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Helping students weigh the pros and cons of a double major?

New research suggests the strategy isn’t a sure ticket to a bigger paycheck. Although 20 percent of college graduates leave school with a double major, they typically don’t experience increases in wages or job satisfaction, according to a paper published in a recent edition of the Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis.

“We found some evidence that certain combinations of double majors confer advantages over a single major, but they weren’t overwhelming,” Joni Hersch, one of the paper’s authors, recently told The Wall Street Journal.

“There is some support to the notion that being able to look at problems from different perspectives enhances creativity…but students who combine liberal arts with a business or STEM major don’t earn more money than if they majored in business or STEM alone,” she added.

Although a double major is a viable option for undergrads who want to pursue disparate interests, students should know the choice may ultimately limit their course options, Hersch said.

“I personally think double-majoring becomes too rigid. There are requirements for both majors, limiting the number of elective courses such as political science, art, and philosophy, that students can take,” Hersch said. “Most double majors are within a single discipline, like two business majors or two STEM majors. So, that’s where there is a loss.”

Read the full interview.

Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at mstegmeir@nacacnet.org.

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