Best unexpected double majors for computer science students

Did you know that double majors report higher earnings? They also report greater satisfaction with their college experience. But what are the best double majors for computer science?

Our list includes less-common double majors like philosophy, graphic design, and psychology. These majors prepare graduates for in-demand, emerging tech fields like psychoinformatics and artificial intelligence. You’ll also gain sought-after people skills, like interpersonal communication and research. 

A second major in humanities, social science, or business can pay off.

Why choose one of these double majors?

Why should you choose an unexpected double major? Computer science majors who choose a second major typically stick to the more common CS double majors. CS majors typically see the biggest salary boost by double-majoring with a STEM or business major.

But choosing a less common major can help advance your technology career in key ways. 

Consider the role that non-technical skills play in the tech industry. The ability to communicate effectively, write persuasively, and work collaboratively can take your career to the next level. 

Humanities and social science majors emphasize these skills, along with research and critical thinking. A creative major choice can change how you approach tech problems and open career doors. 

These double majors also give you flexibility in your future job options. Or you can specialize or innovate in a particular area of computer science, like artificial intelligence or localization testing, where a double major will help you get ahead. 

Less-common computer science double majors that could boost your career

You’re a computer science major who thinks outside the box. What unexpected double majors may help your career? 

This section will help you find the best double major with computer science for your interests, abilities, and career goals. Our list is a starting point — consider how other unique combinations will help you stand out on the job market.

Business

Why it’s a good fit: A business management degree strengthens analytical and problem-solving skills. And many tech career paths benefit from business training. The ability to analyze an organization’s technology needs or assess security risks helps tech professionals. Business training can also help computer science majors move into supervisory roles.

Challenges: Business and computer science majors require very different courses. However, many colleges offer either a dedicated business and computer science double major or a combined major in both fields. Computer science majors can also earn a business management degree online.

Potential careers for double majors: Data analyst; computer systems analyst; tech sales engineer; start-up founder

Philosophy

Why it’s a good fit: Computer science and philosophy might seem like an unexpected combination, but the two fields overlap in a key area: logic. Adding a philosophy major to your computer science degree will build strong logic skills, which play an important role in programming languages. Philosophy majors also study the ethics of technology.

Challenges: Philosophy majors typically have very different course requirements than CS majors, including a year of a world language. (That’s true of most BA degrees.) However, some schools offer a combined major; Northeastern, for example, has a computer science and philosophy BS degree.

Potential careers for double majors: Data scientist; computer programmer; data engineer, software engineer

Psychology

Why it’s a good fit: Psychology majors examine human behavior and perception. A psychology and computer science double major builds interdisciplinary skills in technology and social science. These double majors work in areas like artificial intelligence research, human-machine interaction, and cognitive science. The emerging field of psychoinformatics brings the two disciplines together. 

Challenges: The course requirements for both majors typically do not overlap. However, some schools offer both options as a single major. For example, Yale offers a combined psychology and computer science major.

Potential careers for double majors: Artificial intelligence engineer; psychoinformatics researcher; human-machine interaction engineer

A language

Why it’s a good fit: A world language can open your tech career prospects, making it one of the best double majors for computer science. Majoring in Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, French, or German will boost your soft skills while also appealing to tech companies. Since many tech companies operate globally, a language can pay off after graduation.

Challenges: While computer science majors might pick up programming languages easily, world languages can pose different challenges. Students may also need to complete additional general education requirements for a BA major.

Potential careers for double majors: Tech sales engineer; software localization engineer; language translation software developer

Graphic design

Why it’s a good fit: An eye for design helps computer science majors interested in web development or UX/UI design. Graphic design majors study layout, typography, and accessibility. They also strengthen their creativity, another skill that benefits computer science majors. Many graphic design programs include courses in web design and UX/UI design.

Challenges: The graduation requirements for graphic design and computer science overlap little. That can mean a double major will add credits and time to your degree.

Potential careers for double majors: Front-end web developer; UX/UI designer; interactive designer

Choosing your second major

What’s the best way to choose your second major? Consider your interests and career goals before declaring a second major. It’s also a good idea to take classes in the field. Explore potential second majors while checking off your general education requirements, if possible. 

Ask yourself these questions to find your best computer science double major:

  • Which major will give you a boost in your field?
  • Which excites and interests you the most?
  • Does your school offer combined majors?
  • What double majors fit your timeline for graduation?
  • What are the course requirements for each option?

If a double major does not fit your college plan, consider these good minors for computer science.

This article was reviewed by Sierra Gawlowski, PE

A headshot of Sierra Gawlowski, a smiling brunette woman.

Sierra Gawlowski, PE, earned her BS in civil engineering and is a licensed professional engineer in the state of Washington. She has worked for a private engineering consulting firm as well as for public agencies. Sierra enjoys mentoring engineering students and junior staff. She also leads a project team for Engineers Without Borders and currently sits on the board of directors for Kilowatts for Humanity.

Gawlowski is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education freelance review network. 

Last reviewed April 20, 2022.

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