To double major or triple minor?
August 31st, 2010
Faculty Advisor Question: “When I advise students, they frequently are hot to double major and minor/double minor/triple minor – on the assumption that this will somehow make them more employable. Neither I, nor any of my colleagues, have any evidence that minors or additional majors are of any use in this regard, absent a few specific situations. What’s your view?”
Andy’s Answer: The choice of doing a double major or a minor is an individual decision. In some cases, the second major can make a difference with respect to employability – when the 2nd major has direct relationship with the requirements and expectations of the potential employer. For example, having a 2nd major in political science can help if you plan to work in politics. Or having a minor in entrepreneurship can communicate to employers that you have knowledge and interest in business.
However, it is not required; nor is it beneficial in all cases. I would posit that having challenging extracurricular activities and internships have greater benefit towards potential employability than having a 2nd major or a double minor.
If a 2nd major or minor results in the student having less time to pursue interesting extracurricular activities and roles or internships, this would be a poor decision. If the 2nd major or minor results in damaging the student’s academic record, this would also be a poor decision.
If one were to have double or triple minors, a student will need to be prepared for the employer interview question, “Why did you have so many minors?” because it’s not what they typically see. Employers need to hear logical answers so the student must be prepared to give one.
Thus, I conclude that 2nd major or minor should be pursued primarily because the student is genuinely interested in the academic area. And in some cases, it could be beneficial for employment marketability. However, the student should ask the career office or employers about their assumptions and hypothesis before making a final decision.
As I like to say, a sound decision is an informed decision. It can be costly to make such a decision without really knowing the facts.