Dual Degree vs. Double Major: What’s the Difference & Are They Worth It?

Dual Degree vs. Double Major: What’s the Difference & Are They Worth It?

If you’ve ever considered getting a double degree, we have good and bad news for you. The good news is that you are probably very responsible and will have excellent job prospects. Employers pay special attention to double majors, especially in technology and interdisciplinary areas. The bad news is that double majoring will cost you extra money, time, and effort.

Between 2009 and 2015, those who double-majored in liberal arts and a STEM or business degree made 8% more than their single-major peers.

This article will guide you through the ins and outs of dual degrees and double majors.

We will:

  • Explore their pros and cons
  • Analyze how difficult it is to complete a double degree in college
  • Provide you with the tips about getting a double major
  • Give you a list of the best combinations to make your goal a reality

💡 Is It a Good Idea to Double Major?

A double major gives you one degree (and one diploma) in two related fields. Please be aware that a dual degree is quite different; you receive two degrees (and two diplomas) in different areas, usually at two separate schools of one university or college. Learning about the following advantages and disadvantages of a double major will make your choice easier.

A Dual Degree & a Double Major: Advantages

  1. Your job perspectives rise. Research has shown that students who combined liberal arts with a STEM field or business degree earn 7.9 to 9.5% more than their single-degree peers, depending on the particular combination.
  2. You will not be alone in this challenge. Educational institutions are interested in their students getting a double major and will provide you with ample assistance.
  3. You will not be limited to a narrow scope of knowledge. Getting a double major provides you with access to a broader range of job offerings.
  4. This is not that difficult. Some subjects, or parts of them, overlap, which saves you time and helps you become more efficient.
  5. It is an unequaled chance to become a better person. You’ll train your critical thinking, time management, and self-teaching skills. Last but not least, a double major makes you a more interesting and well-rounded person.     

A Dual Degree & a Double Major: Disadvantages

  1. It will most likely take you more than five years to graduate.
  2. You will probably have to skip the majority of optional courses and extracurricular activities.
  3. You won’t be able to explore subjects that are not directly related to your studies.
  4. You probably won’t have the opportunity to participate in an internship.
  5. You might have to take summer classes to decrease your course load during the academic year.
  6. A tight schedule can cause higher stress.           

Keep in mind that all the pros and cons above apply to both double major and dual degree, but to a different extent. In the case of a dual degree, disadvantages are doubled (you study two separate programs, remember?), but the benefits are also more tangible. You can learn more about these two options below.

🆚 Dual Degree vs. Double Major: What’s the Difference?

As you read in the previous section, students in search of a challenge can seek out a dual degree or a double major. Both of these options enhance your appeal to employers, but they take extra effort. This section will dive into the particular features of each and give you a generalized comparison.

What Is a Dual Degree?

A dual degree program means that a person studies for two separate degrees at the same time. It can be done within one college or university, but sometimes dual degrees are even possible at two institutions in different countries. The purpose of these programs is to allow students to complete both degrees in a shorter time than if they studied for each degree separately.

A dual degree means that a person studies for two separate degrees at the same time.

Here are the specifics of a dual degree:

  1. You can get an education in two separate fields: BA and BFA, BA and BS, etc.
  2. The most common way to get a dual degree is to study within two schools at the same university.
  3. As a rule, you will have to apply for admission to both programs separately.
  4. Some universities provide the option to apply for a second degree after a student has been enrolled in the first one.
  5. Studying for a dual degree is time-consuming and labor-intensive.
  6. You will generally have to pay increased tuition and housing fees.
  7. Overlapping subjects are often negotiable. You might be able to complete your exams at just one of the two schools.              
  8. Graduation requires between 140 and 225 credits, depending on the institution and subject.

Dual Degree Programs: Main Types

  1. Bachelor + Bachelor. This is the most common option. A double bachelor’s degree is available at many US universities. Any number of specializations is possible, but you should check with your university to see if the specific combination you are looking for is available. Here are the most popular degrees to combine:              
    • Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA)
    • Bachelor of Arts (BA)
    • Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA)                      
    • Bachelor of Science (BS)                            
    • Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS)
    • Bachelor of Music (BM)
  2. Bachelor + Master. With this joint degree, you earn a bachelor’s and a master’s diploma in five to six years. Instead of doing the two in sequence, you can have some subjects count toward both degrees, which can save you time and money. Students tend to combine the following:              
    • Master of Business Administration (MBA)
    • Master of Public Administration (MPA)
    • Master of Public Policy (MPP)
    • Master of Arts (MA)
    • Master of Engineering (ME)
    • Master of Science (MS)
    • Bachelor of Science (BS)
    • Bachelor of Arts (BA)                              
  3. Graduate + Graduate. This is a combination of two master’s programs or one master’s and one professional/doctoral degree. Some of the most common pairings include MS/ Ph.D., MA/ Ph.D., MA/JD, JD/ Ph.D., MBA/JD, and MPH/MD. The following graduate degrees are combinable:
    • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
    • Doctor of Medicine (MD)
    • Juris Doctor (JD)
    • Master of Science in Engineering (MSE)
    • Master of Science (MS)
    • Master of Business Administration (MBA)
    • Master of Public Policy (MPP)
    • Master of Public Health (MPH)
    • Master of Arts (MA)
    • Master of Social Work (MSW) 

What Is a Double Major?

A double major gives you one degree with a specialization in two fields at the same school or institution. The disciplines usually have many overlapping areas. If you want to concentrate on two distant subjects, however, a dual degree should be your choice.

A double major gives you one degree and one diploma in two fields at the same school or institution.

The main features of a double major are the following:

  1. Two neighboring disciplines are combined.
  2. You apply for admission only once at one school.
  3. You receive one diploma (for example, BS or BA) with two concentrations.     
  4. It is more challenging than a single major but can be achieved within the same educational period.
  5. A double major is cheaper than a dual degree.
  6. You can receive credit for overlapping disciplines, like in dual degrees.
  7. Many students avoid declaring their double major before they are half-way through their degree. Still, if you are sure about the two specializations, it is better to start them simultaneously.
  8. Some institutions allow their students to triple major as long as they can cope with the workload.

Double Majors: Best Combinations

If you have ever kept track of how much time you spend on social media or watching Netflix, you know that you have enough time to get a double major. The list below explains the combinations that are the most profitable for your future profession.

  1. Political Science + Foreign Language. The political sphere is globalized and well-paid. Although English is an international language, you need to speak at least one foreign language to find a good job. It’s a good idea to choose a language that is spoken in several countries. Students who pursue these majors are usually focused on humanitarian ideals, i.e., teaching culture, history, politics, and economics.
    Additionally, if you have a chance to do your internship abroad, consider replacing the foreign language component with a different discipline. 
  2. Business + Art. We live in an era of consumerism. Works of art are no longer only the prerogative of wealthy people. This combination is probably one of the most versatile double major options. You could start a business selling pieces of art. Alternatively, you could work at a company as an artist, designer, or other creative specialist. If you choose business as your focus, your creative side will always be a benefit for the employer.
    On the other hand, you can always do art as a hobby. Sometimes there is no need to spend extra time and money on activities you can do in the comfort of your home.
  3. Biology + Communications. Medical organizations look for client-oriented specialists. The communications component of this degree will teach you how to deal with other people in various (and often stressful) situations. This combination works well for administration personnel at hospitals or clinics.
    However, if you are sure that medicine is your vocation and have never had any communication problems with other people, try combining biology with business instead.
  4. Economics + Psychology. In many ways, economics is the psychology of business. A more in-depth insight into human motivation and relationships can make you a better economist, so these two spheres complement each other nicely. This combination works well for marketing, management, advertising, and consulting.

🤷 Double Major vs. Dual Degree: What to Choose?

If all the information above was not enough to help you make up your mind, consider the following information.

A double major should be your choice if:

✔️ You would like to complete your education in 4 years.
✔️ You can’t choose between two specialties and think that you need both.
✔️ You feel stressed when you have too many assignments.
✔️ You are concerned about money issues.
✔️ You would like to avoid complicated application formalities.
✔️ The two fields you would like to study have a lot in common.  

A dual degree is for you if:

✔️ You are prepared to dedicate 5 to 6 years to your education.
✔️ You are sure about the disciplines that interest you, even though they are very different.  
✔️ You can cope with lots of tasks and short deadlines.
✔️ You have enough money to pay for your education.
✔️ You are ready to apply to two different schools or universities.
✔️ The two fields that interest you have little in common.  

🏆 10 Tips for Successful Double Majoring

You’ve clarified the difference between a dual degree and a double major, weighed the pros and cons of both programs, and made up your mind about which one of them to choose. The next step is to organize your joint studies. We won’t go into detail about the documents you’ll need because each university and college has its own requirements. You can review them on the respective website of your institution. However, the sections below will give you valuable advice that is not always self-evident.

The infographic contains ten tips that will help you to double major successfully.

Choose Your Study Areas Wisely

It’s not easy to study for a double major and even less so for a dual degree. It takes effort to even get admitted to a joint program. In most cases, you will have to pay your tuition fees at the beginning of the year. That’s why dropping a joint program can feel like a personal failure and a waste of money. Take your time to decide which areas excite you.

  1. Choose something you like. The best combination is your hobby plus your profession. If you have a passion, be sure to choose it as one of your future degrees. Students often shy away from creative disciplines that promise lower salaries. But if you have an Arts degree and a degree in business or a technological sphere, your possibilities for a good job will be higher.
  2. Think strategically. Overlapping courses mean that you will have to deal with them only once. The more subjects that are the same, the easier your studies will be. For instance, a foreign language and journalism have many disciplines that count toward both degrees.
  3. Consider the fields that fit each other. Visualize your future career. With rare exceptions, most people work at one job at a time. Try to imagine how you will apply both degrees or majors at one workplace. Note that if you can’t use the full scope of your studies, you might feel underpaid and unappreciated. Search for job offerings to understand what you’ll need to deal with after graduation.              

Plan Your Studies

Most universities expect you to plan your courses. They are ready to provide advice, but you are the one to organize your schedule. Your tuition fees will depend on how many years you spend at the given institution. The sooner you graduate, the more money you save.

  1. Make a road map of your studies. Inevitably, your studies will require more time and effort than you first planned. However, it’s essential to plan for the shortest amount of time in order to save money. If you are prepared to study for five years, but it can be done in four, make up a plan for the latter.
  2. Stick to your plan. Make a list of reasons why you might need to delay your credits. Each time you procrastinate, read it through for motivation. If you have a gap in classes, use it wisely!
  3. Double dip when you can. Negotiate with your institution to see if you can count courses towards both of your degrees. The best time to settle these issues is at the beginning of your studies. By doing so, you can plan your time wisely and get acquainted with your future professors.

Make Friends with Your Advisors

Be aware that your workload will be heavy most of the time. For this reason, good relationships with your tutors and degree counselors will make your life easier and more pleasurable.

  1. Meet your academic counselors on a regular basis. Many students put off these consultations until the end of the semester when advisors have less time. Select your courses for the next semester in the middle of the current one. By that time, you will have an idea of what you prefer studying, and your academic counselor will be free enough to answer all of your questions.
  2. Prepare for these meetings and ask for help if needed. Degree advisors do not tell you which classes to attend. They help you make up your mind about what courses best fit into your career plans. You have to put in effort beforehand by studying the description of the classes and coming to the meeting with a list of the preferred ones.

Take Care of Yourself

The rule of thumb is not to overstretch yourself. Education is a small part of your life, and some failures are inevitable. These two pieces of advice can facilitate the life of the busiest student.

  1. Plan your sleep. If you do not include enough sleep hours into your schedule, you will burn out sooner or later. Sufficient sleep raises your productivity and helps you enjoy your studying. Thus, it is as essential as your studies.
  2. Plan your days off. At least one day of the week should be study-free. Do not even think about your classes during this day. As a rule, students use their days off to study. Try to plan your work to have one day free for pursuing a hobby, talking with friends, or reading and watching films.

As you can see, a double major is not “better” than a dual degree. Still, it is slightly easier and less expensive. Before applying, you should make sure that a dual degree or double major will help you pursue the career that is right for you. If the answer is yes, all the other issues are resolvable.

Have you applied for a double degree, or are you studying for one now? Share your experiences in the comments below. Your advice is valuable to other students.

Comments
(will not be published)