A recent study published in the Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis suggests that college students who double major do not reap any additional career benefits in terms of earnings or job satisfaction.
These findings may come as a surprise to the many college students who choose to double major. According to the 2016 RWU Fall Census, 6 percent of students at Roger Williams University are double majors; this figure is significantly lower than the national average, which is 20 percent.
This numerical gap begets the question: what are Roger Williams University students’ thoughts towards double majoring, and why do most choose not to?
Roger Williams University students, alumni, and faculty possess varying opinions regarding double majoring. On one hand, some believe double majoring is infinitely useful.
“Being a double major was the best decision I made,” said Sabrina Caserta, a Roger Williams University alumna who double majored in political science and journalism. She believes studying politics has made her “a better, more comprehensive journalist.”
Junior Brianna Hardy, a graphic design and public relations major, agreed with Caserta’s claim that double majoring is beneficial.
“I chose Public Relations [as my second major] because I thought it would pair well with my graphic design major and marketing minor,” Hardy said. “I find that it makes me more marketable as well as [it] expands my knowledge within the field of graphic design.”
It appears that students attempting to gain more depth in one particular skill set believe that, despite the increased workload, double majoring is a worthwhile venture. On the other hand, students who find developing a greater variety of skills more lucrative generally believe that double majoring is unnecessary.
“I decided to only have one major, but I have basically three minors,” said junior Paige Degnan, a media communications major. “I thought it would be more beneficial to look at areas to support my major that I was interested in, so I chose to minor in public and professional writing, marketing, and Spanish based on that.”
From a professional standpoint, Senior Career Advisor at the Career Center Alexandra Finney supports the study’s findings.
“To me, the benefit of double majoring is that you are gaining skill sets and prerequisites for your career,” Finney said.
As part of her undergraduate thesis at Merrimack College, Finney conducted her own study looking at the benefits of double majoring. While she found no correlation between double majoring and satisfaction with future job prospects, she did find that students are generally more satisfied with their second major because students tend to declare second majors later in their college careers.
“By that time, students have taken more time to explore themselves, their strengths, and career options for the second major,” Finney said. As a result, students can make a more educated decision the second time around.