What are good double majors for computer science students?

Want to deepen your knowledge of a STEM field, master business, or explore the humanities? There's a computer science double major out there for you.

The right double major for computer science depends on your interest and goals. 

A double major in engineering, mathematics, or comparable discipline supplements what you learn in a computer science program by overlapping, reinforcing, and building on what you learn. 

Double majoring in business introduces new knowledge and skills in topics like marketing, management, and finance. Humanities double majors hone analytical and critical thinking alongside writing skills.

No matter what you choose, your career outlook may benefit from expanding your interdisciplinary skills.

Best double majors for computer science

The six double majors for computer science listed here merely serve as a few choice options. You need not limit yourself to these majors alone. Pairing a computer science degree with any major can have advantages in the classroom and after graduation, so consider unexpected computer science double majors, too.

Adding a double major may add a semester or two to your degree, depending on overlap among required classes. You may need to take a full course load plus summer classes to complete both major requirements within the typical four-year graduation timeline.

However, institutions like Oregon State University and Miami University offer programs specifically designed as dual computer science degrees.

Physics

Why it's a good fit: Physics and computer science have a lot in common, but their differences make them excellent complementary majors. Physics involves studying matter and energy and how they function in the universe, while computer science explores the theoretical and practical applications of computers. 

Physics and computer science both use mathematics and modeling, with physics often relying on computer science for the task. 

Challenges: Physics requires more math than a traditional computer science program. Plus, much of the experimentation in physics is theoretical. Computer science students who want to see clear, concrete data may find physics challenging.

Potential careers for double majors: Computational physicist, data scientist, software developer

Electrical engineering

Why it's a good fit: Pair electrical engineering with computer science to learn how computers' electric guts work and how to use computers to solve problems. Electrical engineers create solutions with electrical components, while computer scientists use computation and logic. A double major with computer science trains students to seek logical solutions by designing and developing computer systems and devices. Alternatively, consider a computer engineering degree.

Challenges: Electrical engineering requires abstract thinking. Plus, computer science majors interested in cyber security, data science, and artificial intelligence may not find topics like digital systems and electric circuits useful or interesting. 

Potential careers for double majors: Computer engineer, electrical engineer, computer hardware developer

Data science

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Why it's a good fit: Data science is a growing, interdisciplinary field that combines computer science and statistics. By pairing a data science major with computer science, you deepen your understanding of using computer science theories and practices to efficiently analyze data and solve problems. 

A data science and computer science double major also introduces students to data science's applications for disciplines such as business.

Challenges: A computer science major requires more programming coursework than a data science major, with disadvantages and advantages alike. You'll also need to complete additional mathematics and statistics classes for the data science major.

Potential careers for double majors: Data scientist, applied computational scientist, data engineer

Economics

Why it's a good fit: Economics involves the study of resources and their allocation. Economics applies to individuals, communities, organizations, and nations. Combining economics with computer science equips you to use computers to assess data and solve economics-related problems. 

A computer science and economics major deepens your understanding of market design, machine learning, and computational finance.

Challenges: While mathematics is a foundational aspect of economics, computer science degrees involve more advanced math classes than economics degrees. Though economics hones analytical thinking, some may consider finance or business more practical choices.

Potential careers for double majors: Computational economist, software developer, market analyst 

Math

Why it's a good fit: Computer science is founded on mathematics, so a double major in computer science and math increases your understanding of computer science fundamentals. A double major with computer science benefits students interested in graduate study or a career in computational or applied mathematics. 

Challenges: A math major's additional mathematics and statistics courses may prove challenging to a computer science major not interested or adept at the discipline. The different graduation requirements for the two degrees can be challenging to fit into a typical four-year graduation timeline.

Potential careers for double majors: Applied mathematics instructor, computational mathematics researcher, data scientist

Cybersecurity

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Best careers with a cybersecurity degree Best careers with a cybersecurity degree The growing cybersecurity field protects sensitive data and private networks from cyberattacks. Professionals with a cybersecurity degree benefit from strong demand and high salaries.

Why it's a good fit: Cybersecurity and computer science complement each other. Their overlapping topics and coursework can prove advantageous and informative. Computer scientists with cybersecurity expertise can analyze threats, protect systems, and detect breaches. Cybersecurity degrees include criminal justice, national security, and risk management courses.

Challenges: Though the disciplines overlap, this double major may still take an extra semester or two to complete. Double cybersecurity and computer science majors should be interested in cybersecurity or working in a related field.

Potential careers for double majors: Computational forensic analyst, cybersecurity architect, cybersecurity engineer

Choosing your second major

To choose the right double major, consider:

  • Are you interested in both disciplines?
  • What are the career options after graduation?
  • If you want to go to graduate school, how does this influence that option?
  • Are there redundancies and overlap in degree requirements?
  • Will it extend your timeline to graduate?
  • How relevant is the dual degree to the job market?

Alternatives to double majoring in computer science and another discipline include adding an emphasis or choosing a minor. 

Good minors for computer science complement and supplement a computer science major but without repetitive or unnecessary coursework.

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. 

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