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Are joint majors beneficial or is it better to have a singular major and a minor?

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To people who have/had joint majors: Did you fell less competitive when applying for jobs or internships against people who have a single major? What is your joint major and how has it helped you career wise?

For employers/recruiters (if applicable): Do you prefer people with joint majors or singular majors with a possible a minor? In a field such as computer science or engineering, would a CS or engineering major jointed with a math major normally make someone more or less appealing for the position? How do you often view joint majors in this case?

In general, would it be recommended to joint major or will this put students at a disadvantage compared to people who are in a single major and are able to go deeper into a single subject?

I am choosing between a math-applied science joint major (with the applied sciences being geared towards mechanical engineering) or a math-CS joint and minoring in engineering. I am also considering pure math or applied math with a minor in engineering, but I would prefer more computer and technical courses because they interest me most.

#college-major #major #career #engineering #math #joint-major #internship #research #minor

Hi Ashley! Honestly, I think you're overthinking it. I would choose whichever major type suits your interests/learning style better. Hiring managers would not analyze your major that closely and instead much of your evaluation would be based on your work experience/interview. Manasa Gogineni Translate
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11 answers

Amy’s Answer

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Hi Ashley,

I hope you are doing well!

First, while attending college is important, your major won’t have anything to do with your career. Study things that interest you! Many people are in jobs that are different from what they studied in school. Always remember that school is different than working in the real world. Experience and the desire to work is all that matters at the end.

When I was attending school, I majored in Psychology with two minors in Human Development and Public Leadership. I currently have a technical job because I had taken classes in computer science.

Landing a job can be tough at times. It is very important to have skills outside of your field and be open to learning new skills.

When it comes to hiring people, the following factors come into play:
- Experience
- Overall GPA
- Extracurriculars
- Quality of Classes (not how many majors or minors you have)
- Quality of interview skills
-Etc

I hope this helps! :)
That's very reassuring. I was just wondering because I would have to petition to get the engineering classes I am interested in and it would be much easier to get it approved via the methods I listed above. I also plan to possibly go to grad school for engineering. If it is not too much trouble, https://www.math.ucsd.edu/~handbook/undergraduate/major-information/ has descriptions of each major. Would you mind advising me a little more? The engineering minor would add 7 more courses to my plans. Ashley T. Translate
I would say follow your guts! If you are passionate about engineering, go for it, and maybe pursue a minor in any mathematics that you like or, if you can get a computer science degree and a minor in engineering or a minor in mathematics. Math is everywhere no matter what field you pursue. As long as you have the right pre-requisites for grad school in engineering, you should be fine and good to go. I would suggest looking into what grad school you would like to pursue, and check out which required classes you need to apply. Best regards! Amy A. Translate
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John’s Answer

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Amy makes some valid points. I would not go as far as to say what you major will not have anything to do with your career. I am an IT in the Navy but plan on opening up a retail business once I retire. I have received a BS/BA-IT degree and will be pursuing a MBA with a focus in Entrepreneurship. Study what makes you happy and makes you want to learn more, but also focus that degree towards the field that plan on joining. I was seeking a degree in psychology but redirected towards something that I knew was going to be more beneficial to me in a business world surrounded by advances in technology.

If you wanted to work for me as an IT and didn't have any certs/experience/IT degrees/ qualifications within the industry, I wouldn't hire you. A degree in the field shows me that you are intelligent, capable, and somewhat knowledgeable within the field in which you seek.
Oh, thanks for the clarification. And good luck with your business! Ashley T. Translate
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Andrew’s Answer

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There are trade-offs between the choice for double major, major-minor combination, and just single major. There are two factors for consideration.

Firstly, it is hard to argue against the value of a double major provided that these two majors are mutually supportive. Secondly, we should be cognizant of the time it takes to earn the bachelor’s degree. Most probably, a double-major will take the longest time to complete. A major-minor combination will come next. And a single major should normally take the shortest time.

There are trade-offs between these two scenarios. Typically, if a student wants to start his/her career right after the bachelor’s degree, it should be appreciated that an early start on a career path is preferable because work experience can be a winning ticket in job promotion. On the other hand, a complementary double major can be an important factor in landing on a good job. This will be a serious judgement call for any undergraduate. There is no perfect answer to this question.

One should be thoughtful in choosing a major in pure math or applied math. A pure math curriculum is designed to prepare students all the way up to a Ph.D. degree. A bachelor’s degree in pure math may not get a graduate too far in the career path. Meanwhile, applied math is a water-down version of pure math, and its value is rather questionable.

On the assumption that you will start pursuing your career in applied science right after the bachelor’s degree, I would recommend a major in computer science/mechanical engineering with a minor in mathematics. The math minor will add value to their computer science/engineering degree.
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Erica’s Answer

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Hi there,

I was a double-major in college with related majors (Accounting, Business Managemet), and I also picked up a minor in Geology. I actually found (and continue to find) that it makes me more competitive in the job market. The related double-majors show committment to the overall field of business, and the minor shows strength and interest in something completely different. Even if you end up choosing two very different majors, you will be able to find a way to tell your story to highlight how they compliment each other. For example, a double major in Political Science and Civil Engineering can perhaps seem like two different worlds, but you can speak to how your study of PoliSci augments your ability to advise on civic projects.

Ultimately, though, the goal is to study what interests you and allows you to develop good habits, self-discipline, and gives you the opportunity to network and grow as a person. Being holed up in the library for all 4 years just to get a double major is not worth sacrificing the "life" education you would get outside of the library.

Best of luck!
Erica
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Pierre’s Answer

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Ahsley,

While a double major and minor degrees have their pros and cons, I recommend you shift your energy to what benefits you the most with the least amount of effort. I recommend you shift your focus towards building a working experience such as doing research and internships. Working experience is far more attractive to employers and will make you more competitive.
For example, since my sophomore year, I was working part-time as a software engineer. I also did research. After graduation, I had absolutely no problem finding an excellent job.
Again, while pursuing double major and minor can be beneficial, I highly recommend you invest in building working experience.

Good luck!
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Christopher T’s Answer

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Hello Ashley

May this find you healthy and well.

Some outstanding guidance already! Lets talk bottoms up. What do you visualize in 10 years. You concluded with what interests you the most. Experience and time has shown me the accuracy of Confucius teaching “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Sticking with what interests you and augmenting it I have found to always be a good pairing. After-all, true depth comes with time and experience.

My education, I double majored in information technology and business. I did feel competitive in some scenarios and less in others. Looking over my career it evolved with that foundation, I became a strong bridge.

When it comes to hiring it is important to have a key focus, what do you bring, what is your goal, what makes you stand out in experience, training, knowledge, skill. A well rounded person with the depth of the subject and the ability to grow is what I personally look for. Will they enjoy and benefit by taking on this new challenge.

Trust your instinct, enjoy!

A new enjoyable read from one of our Employee Resource Groups: Women Who Ignite

CT
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Leif’s Answer

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Hi Ashley,

I graduated with a double major in Biology and Mathematics. The 2 subjects are fairly unrelated and I enjoyed learning both subjects. I had started as a biology/pre-med, but fell in love with math and problem solving in my sophomore year. I am glad I have both because it gives me a wider range of skills and jobs to apply to. I'm currently working as a software engineer and use my math problem solving all the time. I haven't found the double major to be a disadvantage in any way. If your majors are related, you will show more depth in those areas than someone with a single major. If they are unrelated, like mine, you can choose to list only one on your resume when applying for a specific job. The other thing my advisor told me that decided me to do both was to major in something you enjoy. That was my deciding factor. I enjoyed both.
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Jennifer’s Answer

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In my experience in today's market, recruiters are using online tools that search for a host of industry-specific buzz terms. My recommendation is to skim through LinkedIn and other similar professional tools to search for jobs that you might find interesting once you're out of school. Pick 5-10 roles that really interest you, or find individuals that are working in roles you aspire to. Once you have those roles in mind, you can think through whether the subject matter you pick as your major/minor will propel you towards that goal. You can align your career goals with the buzz words that you learn in the major/minor curriculum. Same concept applies if you're planning on graduate school. This way, when you graduate, you have already met the prerequisites for the job and/or grad school. Don't forget to have fun!
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Natalie’s Answer

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Hi Ashley!

I actually started as a math major and computer science minor and then switched to a double major once I discovered how much I liked computer science.

What you can do is start taking courses in both fields that you are interested in, and once you are a semester or two in and have discovered whether you like the courses, you can decide whether you want to minor/major etc. That way you won't be behind regardless. I'd also consider what you are planning to do after graduation. In my case, I wanted to go to a data science graduate school program, and a double major in both computer science and math was very competitive.

It was very difficult to stay on track for graduation as my majors were in different schools at my University. I had to do a dual degree program where each degree had different graduation requirements. I would look at your graduation trajectory and how many AP/IB credits you may have that can give you some wiggle room with college requirements and let you explore a little.

As for pure math vs. applied, that's also a question depending on what you want to do after graduation. Applied math is great if you are pairing it with an engineering course load, and pure math is a great path if you want to go into research or academia. You can also pair pure math with something engineering or computer science related if you want the best of both worlds.

In the end, I don't think that there is a wrong choice -- just try to fill your schedule with courses that you enjoy!

Natalie recommends the following next steps:

  • Think about the career paths you might be interested in
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Sara’s Answer

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Although there are some really great answers here already, I thought I would chime in with my experience.

I did a 5-year Dual-Degree Engineering program, which means I received a liberal arts degree in Biophysics and then also received an engineering degree in Biomedical Engineering. I believe that having two degrees made me standout in some way especially for internships and my first job, because it shows that I'm hard-working and willing to do something that I'm passionate about, even if it takes an extra year. As some other Professionals have said, it can really make you standout during an interview process to have a unique experience and be able to draw from both of your majors. But this can also be said for a minor.

In my opinion, a minor should be used as something that really interests you whether that's in your field of study to further your knowledge or maybe another interest or "hobby" (e.g. Major: Chemical Engineering, Minor: Dance or PoliSci). I don't believe a minor will "make or break" anything. It all depends on how you swing it in an interview. Even if you don't earn a minor officially, you can always state on your resume that you had a concentration in something or took extra classes in a certain area, which can also make you standout.
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Vinita’s Answer

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Hi Ashley,

If the question of a double major has popped in your mind, then most likely you have 2 subjects in mind too. More and more students are opting for 2 majors . While there may be many reasons why students take up a double major - the main ones are the following:

1. Two subjects that are connected. Computer Science and Design as an example. Right now the expertise in 2 subjects is very valuable. With technology and digitization entering every business - you will see that right from restaurant owners, to car companies, to healthcare and finance - all are digital. So the combination of computer science and another subject are most common - but there are many more combinations that go together. You could look at the one's you have in mind and find out what is the latest trend in that domain of work.

2. The other big reason for students to opt for a double major is if they like 2 subjects and cannot choose between them. It gives you 4 more years to decide what you want to do your masters in assuming you are considering a double major in your under grad.

Lastly I would say the world is changing so fast - and it's highly likely that you may have 2 or more career switches due to changing times as well as wanting to try different things. For that a double major is always a good option.

Hope this helps.
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