Deciding to take on a double major is a big commitment, one that not only increases students' workload, but, in many cases, has the potential to increase the amount of time it takes to complete their degrees. It can also be beneficial in the professional world, as many organizations may see candidates who complete two majors as especially hard working and equipped with a multifaceted array of skills.
Oftentimes students choose to enroll in two complementary majors to give themselves a one-two punch in preparing for a specific career. In other cases, students can prepare for a career by double majoring in disciplines that, on the surface, seem like polar opposites.
The following pairings might seem like they couldn't be used to enter a specific profession, but the skills students gain from studying the two subjects actually give them more ammunition to pursue certain careers.
Accounting and Finance
Although they're both business disciplines, as we've mentioned in other articles, accounting and finance focus on different areas of the field. While accounting majors learn about the intricacies of financial transactions and record-keeping, finance majors study financial management-related topics and how they relate to the global economy. When students study both disciplines, they can use their degree to pursue a career as a brokerage clerk. This job--which requires skills like active listening, writing, speaking, mathematics and critical thinking--entails writing and verifying stock orders, tracking stock prices and estimating the amount of taxes that will be charged on these transactions.
Accounting/Finance career options
Students who have this double major pairing can also pursue a career as a bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerk. Using the mathematics, writing, time management and listening skills they gain from their majors, bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks are responsible for creating, verifying and updating the financial records of an organization; creating balance sheets, income statements and other reports; and receiving and recording money that comes into an organization. According the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for these professionals is $36,430 as of May 2014.
Criminal Justice and Psychology
Criminal justice majors study topics such as the law and legal procedure, best criminal investigation practices, the ethical standards used when conducting investigations and how to process crime scenes. Students who major in psychology gain an understanding about human behavior by studying psychological theory and practice, research methods and ethical issues in the field.
Criminal Justice/Psychology career options
Students who double major in criminal justice and psychology get skills that they can use to pursue a career as a trial consultant -- such as communication, data analysis and public speaking abilities. These professionals are responsible for helping to choose the best juries for criminal and civil trials, coaching witnesses and assisting lawyers as they prepare trial strategies. Trial consultants have large earning potential, with salaries that can range from $40,000 to more than $100,000, according to the National Law Journal.
Students can also use the skills they gain from their studies to pursue a career as a criminal profiler. Criminal profilers have job duties such as analyzing crime scene information to develop leads on suspects, writing reports, testifying in court and working closely with attorneys and law enforcement officers.
Statistics and Political Science
Students enrolled in statistics degree programs can expect to study topics such as calculus, algebra, computers, probability and research methods. On the other hand, political science majors learn about all aspects of political matters, such as the economy, social issues and human behavior.
Although this hard science and social science may seem like an unlikely pairing, students who double major in these disciplines can pursue a career as a sociologist, using the critical thinking, writing, listening and public speaking skills they gained from their degree programs. Sociologists are responsible for testing theories by creating research projects; using surveys, interviews and observations to collect data and then analyzing the results; and creating reports and presentations to communicate research findings.
Statistics/Political Science career options
Students who study statistics and political science can also become political scientists. The skills necessary for this career include the ability to effectively communicate verbally and in writing, listening skills and decision making and problem solving abilities. The job duties of political scientists include researching political issues and writing reports and presentations based on the information they find, collecting public opinion and election data, looking at how the law affects people's daily lives and making predictions about political trends.
Business and Journalism
Business students learn about the fundamentals of how organizations are run and study subjects like accounting, finance, sales, marketing, economics and entrepreneurship. Those who enroll in journalism degree programs can expect to learn about how to ensure that reporting is accurate, the rights and ethical responsibilities of journalists, interviewing and research basics and how to lay out print and online stories.
Business/Journalism career options
While it seems like more of a natural career path for journalism students, rather than business majors, those who double major in these two disciplines learn skills that they can use to work as reporters, correspondents and broadcast news analysts -- namely the ability to write and speak effectively, manage time, think critically and understand why people react to different situations the way they do. This profession entails researching assignments; interviewing sources; writing articles, blogs and opinion pieces; and ensuring that articles are accurate.
Similarly, it may seem counterintuitive that journalism students can pursue a business-related career, but the business and journalism combination can also lead to a job as an economist. This career requires the writing, listening, problem solving and decision making skills that students who double major in business and journalism learn. According to the BLS, economists collect and analyze economic data, draft reports, conduct research on economic issues and keep abreast of market trends. This is a growing field that is expected to expand by 5.7 percent between 2014 and 2024.
Environmental Science and Public Policy
Students who enroll in environmental science degree programs typically study the biological, societal and legal factors that impact the environment by taking classes in environmental economics, environmental law, sustainability issues, energy and hydrology. On the other hand, those who get public policy degrees learn about the political, economic, historical, cultural and psychological issues that influence public policy. These students take courses in subjects such as public policy ethics, philanthropy, policy development and implementation and civic leadership.
Environmental Science/Public Policy career options
When students double major in environmental science and public policy, they can use the critical thinking, writing, listening and coordination skills they get from their studies to pursue work as an environmental scientist and specialist. This is a growing field, according to the BLS and the jobs for these professionals are expected to increase by 10.7 percent between 2014 and 2024. Environmental scientists and specialists perform job duties such as collecting and analyzing environmental data, creating plans for environmental problems and preparing reports. Professionals in this field earn a median annual salary of $66,250 based on May 2014 BLS numbers.
A public policy and environmental science double major can also lead to a career as an epidemiologist, which requires speaking, writing and decision making skills. Epidemiologists, who make a median annual wage of $67,420 according to the BLS, are responsible for planning and implementing public health studies, supervising technical and clerical workers and creating and managing public health programs. The BLS predicts this field is going to grow 8.3 between 2014 and 2024.
Economics and Public Health
Economics majors study topics like economic research, international finance and macro and microeconomics, while public health majors focus on health literacy, health policy and the history of public health challenges.
Economics/Public health career options
When students double major in public health and economics, they can potentially enter the anthropology field, which requires workers to possess complex problem solving, social perceptiveness and writing skills. Anthropologists develop hypotheses about nature and culture and conduct field research to test them; report on research findings; and give organizations advice on policies and programs. The BLS expects jobs for these professionals will increase by 3.8 percent.
The economics and public health double major combination can also prepare students for a career as a geographer, which requires the systems analysis, public speaking and written communication skills they possess. By 2014 BLS numbers, geographers collect a median salary of $76,420 annually, and are responsible for using field observations, photographs and maps to obtain geographic data; conducting research using different methodologies; and creating maps, diagrams and graphs to convey geographic study findings.
If you'd like to find out more about schools where you can pursue a double major in a specific area of interest, check out the school listings below, or use the search tool on the right to get matched to schools that fit your specific preferences.
"Double Majors Do Double Duty," Fastweb, Accessed October 25, 2014, http://www.fastweb.com/college-search/articles/30-double-majors-do-double-duty
"Should You Consider Multiple Majors or Minors? Examine the Pros and Cons," Quintessential Careers, Accessed October 25, 2014, http://www.quintcareers.com/multiple_majors_minors.html
O*NET Online, October 25, 2014: "Accounting," http://www.onetonline.org/find/result?s=accounting&a=1, "Finance," http://www.onetonline.org/find/result?s=finance&a=1, "43-3031.00 - Bookkeeping, Accounting and Auditing Clerks," http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/43-3031.00, "43-4011.00 - Brokerage Clerks," http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/43-4011.00, "Accounting," http://www.onetonline.org/find/result?s=accounting&a=1, "Statistics," http://www.onetonline.org/find/result?s=Statistics&a=1, "Political Science," http://www.onetonline.org/find/result?s=Political%20Science&a=1, "19-3041.00 - Sociologists," http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/19-3041.00, "19-3094.00 - Political Scientists," http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/19-3094.00, "Environmental Science," http://www.onetonline.org/find/result?s=Environmental%20Science&a=1, "Public Policy," http://www.onetonline.org/find/result?s=Public%20Policy&a=1, "19-3011.00 - Economists," http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/19-3011.00, "27-3022.00 - Reporters and Correspondents," http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/27-3022.00, "19-2041.00 - Environmental Scientists and Specialists, Including Health," http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/19-2041.00, "19-1041.00 - Epidemiologists," http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/19-1041.00, "Economics," http://www.onetonline.org/find/result?s=Economics&a=1, "Public Health," http://www.onetonline.org/find/result?s=Public%20Health&a=1, "19-3091.01 - Anthropologists," http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/19-3091.01, "19-3092.00 - Geographers," http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/19-3092.00
Occupational Outlook Handbook (2016-17 Edition), Bureau of Labor Statistics, December 17, 2015bro:"Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks," http://www.bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/bookkeeping-accounting-and-auditing-clerks.htm; "Sociologists," http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/sociologists.htm; "Political Scientists," http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/political-scientists.htm; "Reporters, Correspondents and Broadcast News Analysts," http://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/reporters-correspondents-and-broadcast-news-analysts.htm; "Economists," http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/economists.htm; "Environmental Scientists and Specialists," http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/environmental-scientists-and-specialists.htm; "Epidemiologists," http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/epidemiologists.htm; "Anthropologists and Archeologists," http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/anthropologists-and-archeologists.htm; "Geographers," http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/geographers.htm
"Brokerage Clerks," Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes434011.htm
"People Interested in Trial Consulting as a Career," Trial Behavior Consulting, Accessed October 25, 2014, http://www.trialbehavior.com/contact/FAQ/faq_career
"Associate of Arts in Psychology," Liberty University, Accessed October 25, 2014, http://www.liberty.edu/online/associate/psychology/
"Jury Consultant," About.com, Accessed October 25, 2014, http://legalcareers.about.com/od/careerprofiles/p/juryconsultants.htm
"Psychological Profiler," CriminalJusticeProfiles.org, Accessed October 25, 2014, http://www.criminaljusticeprofiles.org/psychological-profiler.html
"Criminal Profiler Career Information," About.com, Accessed October 25, 2014, http://criminologycareers.about.com/od/Career_Profiles/a/Criminal-Profiler.htm
"Bachelor of Science in Political Science," Northeastern University, Accessed October 25, 2014, http://www.cps.neu.edu/degree-programs/undergraduate/bachelors-degrees/bachelors-science-political-science.php
"Major: Statistics," The College Board, Accessed October 25, 2014, https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/majors/math-statistics-statistics
"The Major in Statistics," Amherst College, Accessed October 25, 2014, https://www.amherst.edu/academiclife/departments/mathematics/major-in-statistics
"Statistics Majors," Hunter College, Accessed October 25, 2014, http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/qubi/statistics-majors
"Guide to College Majors in Business," WorldWideLearn, Accessed October 25, 2014, http://www.worldwidelearn.com/online-education-guide/business/business-major.htm
"Business Majors: The Basics," The College Board, Accessed October 25, 2014, https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/explore-careers/college-majors/business-majors-the-basics
"Business Degrees," About.com, Accessed October 25, 2014, http://businessmajors.about.com/od/degreeoptions/a/Business-Degrees.htm
"Journalism and Mass Communication," Ashford University, Accessed October 25, 2014, http://www.ashford.edu/degrees/online/ba-journalism.htm
"BA in Public Policy and Leadership," University of Virginia, Accessed October 25, 2014, http://www.batten.virginia.edu/content/academics/degree-information/ba-public-policy-and-leadership
"Bachelor of Science in Public Policy," Penn State Harrisburg, Accessed October 25, 2014, http://harrisburg.psu.edu/public-affairs/political-science-and-public-policy/bachelor-science-public-policy
"Economics Degrees," The University of Texas at Dallas, Accessed October 25, 2014, http://www.utdallas.edu/epps/economics/degrees.html
"Bachelor's Degree," University of Illinois, Accessed October 25, 2014, http://publichealth.uic.edu/academics/degrees/bachelorsdegree/
"College of Public Health," Kent State University, Accessed October 25, 2014, https://www2.kent.edu/publichealth/programs/undergraduate/