Double Major

Education Economics Vol. 18, No. 2, June 2010, 167–189

The college double major and subsequent earnings
Steven W. Hemelt*
University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, Maryland, USA StevenHemelt 0000002008 00 2008 & Francis Original Article 0964-5292 (print)/1469-5782 EducationFrancis 10.1080/09645290802469931(online) CEDE_A_347161.sgm Taylor andEconomics

In this study I examine the relationship between graduating from college with two majors rather than one and labor market earnings using the 2003 National Survey of College Graduates. Because institutions are heterogeneous both in terms of overall quality and in the availability of opportunities to double major, I attempt to control for such overarching institutional differences and explore their effects on premiums to completing a double major. On average, I find a double major to earn 3.2% more than his/her single major counterpart. I also find evidence that premiums to double majoring differ across types of institutions: ranging from a near 4% premium at Research and Comprehensive universities to no effect at Liberal Arts colleges. Finally, I investigate the degree to which choices of first and second major academic disciplines affect earnings premiums. Keywords: double major; earnings return

Introduction Over the past few decades, the earnings gap between college and high school educated workers has grown (Lemieux 2006). One response to this has been a marked rise in the proportion of high school graduates enrolling in college (Kane 1999). In times of growing enrollments, students necessarily seek ways in which to set themselves apart. One possible mechanism through which this distinction can occur is the structure of undergraduate education. High school graduates not only make decisions about whether to enroll in college, they also make decisions about what to study while there. One potential structure that has been little studied is the decision to undertake dual academic...