5 Smart Double-Major Combos

Choose a double-major combination that translates into a successful and rewarding career.

By Ashley Henshaw | February 17, 2017

Choosing a double major will certainly lead to more demanding academic work, but if you choose wisely, it will pay off.
Photo: Thinkstock

An increasing number of college students are taking on a second major in the hopes of improving their success in the workforce. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, as many as 40 percent of students are double-majoring at many elite institutions. Meanwhile, the number of double majors at the University of California at Davis has risen 50 percent in five years, and at MIT, it’s doubled since 1993. Check out which double majors are the most popular and which combinations offer the highest likelihood of post-college success.

If you make a smart choice about which two majors to combine, it could definitely pay off in your future career.

Most Popular Double Majors

According to the Economics of Education Review, students double-majoring in 2008 fell into the following categories:

  • 27 percent had two arts/social science majors
  • 14 percent had two business majors
  • 39 percent had two majors that crossed disciplinary categories

Meanwhile, students who chose business administration, education or social science as their first major were the most likely to add on a second major.

In 2012, the Teagle Foundation completed a report that found the following ten combinations to be the most popular double majors:

  • Business and Business (any two business-related majors)
  • Foreign Language and International Studies
  • Foreign Language and Political Science
  • Economics and Mathematics
  • Economics and Political Science
  • Foreign Language and Biology
  • Foreign Language and Economics
  • Foreign Language and Business
  • Economics and Engineering
  • Foreign Language and Psychology

Foreign Language and Business

It’s clear from the list above that foreign language is a popular choice for double-majoring. In fact, a study noted in The Chronicle of Higher Education found that more than 10 percent of double-major combinations include a foreign language, while less than two percent of single-major students choose a foreign language as their majors.

Foreign language can be an especially helpful major if you hope to also major in a business-related field. With so many businesses operating internationally, your fluency in another language could be vital to communicating with worldwide clients and coworkers. In addition, those who hope to work in health care or social work may also benefit from adding on a foreign language like Spanish to help them work with clients from different backgrounds.

Economics and Math/Political Science/Engineering

Another popular combination from the list above is a combination of economics with math, political science or engineering. Economics is a smart choice as a second major because it prepares students to apply the skills from their first major to real-world situations. These students will be able to help predict consumer habits and make decisions about the smartest way for people to spend their time and money.

For example, for those majoring in political science, a second major in economics could make them better prepared to help politicians propose or support legislation tied to the economy, federal spending and other fiscal matters. This kind of combination takes timeless skills and principles and applies them to current events and issues.

Economics is a smart choice as a second major because it prepares students to apply the skills from their first major to real-world situations
Photo: Thinkstock


Business and Art

Business is a popular choice for a double major, but what should you pair it with? One smart choice is to combine an art major with a business major. If you have creative leanings or a knack for design, a business major can help you find success using those talents. Because an arts-related major doesn’t cover business principles, this double-major combination equips creatively talented students with skills in marketing, accounting, management and economics to help them succeed.

Graphic design majors, for instance, could combine their talents with a business major. Perhaps they can use those skills to better serve their future clients or even start their own businesses one day.

Business and Psychology/Sociology

Another second major choice for a future businessperson is psychology or sociology. This field opens students up to the human mind and how people interact with one another, which can provide invaluable insight when you’re trying to make a business succeed.

An example of this can be found in advertising. When a business wants to spread the word about their product or service, it can be extremely helpful to understand what people are looking for and how they’ll react to your advertising efforts. Focus groups and surveys will be familiar tactics that a psychology or sociology major could apply in this type of situation.

Communication and Science

If you’re hoping to major in a scientific field or perhaps even go on to medical school, you’ll notice that there’s an increasing demand for improved communication skills in these areas. It’s important for people who are knowledgeable in these fields to be able to communicate concepts and information to a layperson audience.

Think of it in terms of bedside manner. A doctor with great communication skills is a good job candidate because they’ll be able to interact well with coworkers and give patients the information they need effectively.

Choosing a double major will certainly lead to more demanding academic work. However, if you make a smart choice about which two majors to combine, it could definitely pay off in your future career.

People Who Read This Article Also Read:

Get to Know Your Undergraduate Advisor
How to Narrow Down Your Major Options
Is a Double Major Right for You?
How to Decide if You Should Change Your Major

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