Last Updated on June 3, 2022
A double degree program, sometimes called a dual degree, combined degree, conjoint degree, joint degree or double graduation program, involves a student’s working for two university degrees in parallel—either at the same institution or at different institutions (sometimes in different countries)—and completing them in less time than it would have taken to earn them separately.
Undergraduate double degree programs are more common in some countries than others, and are generally found in countries whose higher education systems follow the British model. Master’s double degree programs are more widespread. Interest in double degree programs between member nations has spread in the European Union, as the gaining of qualifications from more than one country is seen as an advantage in the European labour market.
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What Is a Dual Degree Program
A dual degree, or double degree, is when you study two, usually very different, fields at the same time and receive two separate degrees (one per discipline). For example, if you studied psychology and business in a dual degree program, you’d graduate with two degrees (that is, two diplomas): a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Psychology and a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA).
Dual degrees typically confer two different types of degrees, such as a BA/BS combo, a BS/BFA, a BS/BBA, etc. (Some dual degree programs will award you an undergraduate bachelor’s degree and a graduate degree—we’ll talk more about these types of programs in a moment.)
In addition, the two fields of study in a dual degree program are usually housed in two different schools at the university. As a result, those wanting to pursue a dual degree typically must apply and get admitted to both schools individually. The deadline by when you must apply for admission will vary depending on the university.
Dual degrees require more credits than single degrees. The total number of credits you’ll need will depend on the university you attend and whether it uses the semester or quarter system. But generally speaking, you’ll need anywhere from 140 to 225 credits to graduate.
Finally, because you’re working on two degrees simultaneously and need more credits than you would for a single degree, you’ll very likely need to spend more time in college, often five to six years. This also means you’ll be spending more money on your college education since you’ll have to pay for additional courses/credits, books, housing, etc.
Dual Degree vs. Double Major – What’s the Difference?
It’s easy to confuse Dual Degree Programs with Double Majoring, but they are different.
- Dual Degrees: Results in two equal degrees
- Double Major: Results in one degree, with two areas of specialization (majors)
If you begin college knowing what career you plan to pursue, a Dual Degree may be an excellent option for you. It can help you earn complementary degrees or a more advanced degree in a shorter time. Either option can impress employers, showing them that you are a highly motivated and well-educated candidate.
If you are less sure of your career plans, however, a Double Major is an option you can choose later in your education. This will also allow you to pursue multiple paths.
Some common Double Major combinations include:
- Foreign Language and International Studies
- Economics and Political Science
- Criminal Justice and Psychology
- Any combination of Business degrees
Types of Dual Degree Programs
As mentioned, dual degree programs can have different types. They can be undergraduate degrees, master’s, or doctorate degrees, among others. In general, there are four types.
- Associate’s and Bachelor’s Program. Here, students earn an associate degree from a community college and a bachelor’s degree from a university. For example:
- Associate’s in Accounting and Bachelor’s in Accounting
- Associate’s in Graphic Design and Bachelor’s in Graphic Design
- Associate’s in Business Management and Bachelor’s in Business Management
- Dual Bachelor’s Degree Program. This program offers two bachelor’s degrees to students. Examples are:
- Bachelor’s in Biology and Bachelor’s in Chemistry
- Bachelor’s in Computer Science and Bachelor’s in Cognitive Science
- Bachelor’s in Biology and Bachelor’s in Computer Science
- Dual Master’s Degree Program. This is the most common type of dual degree program, and it confers two master’s degrees in two fields. A few examples are:
- Master’s in Business Management and Master’s in Business Analytics
- Master’s in Anthropology and Master’s in Public Health
- Master’s in International Affairs and Master’s in Social Work
- Dual Graduate Program. This is a combination of different graduate degrees, including Master of Arts (M.A.), Master of Science (M.S.), Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)., Medicinae Doctor (Doctor of Medicine — M.D.), and many more. These include:
- Juris Doctor and Master’s in Middle Eastern Studies
- Medicinae Doctor and Juris Doctor
- Juris Doctor and Master’s in Social Work
Can you get a dual degree online?
Yes, there are many online dual degree programs available, especially now because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But even before that, online dual degree programs are widely available. But as you will see below, the best dual degree programs in STEM are typically available in the traditional on-campus setting.
Regardless, an online degree nowadays is quite widely accepted. Online education is one of the top online education trends as universities expand their offerings to the digital space. Moreover, speaking generally, the quality of online learning tools and techniques has also improved because of the pandemic. More teachers and students are now equipped with the right tools and techniques to make online teaching and learning experiences better.
In fact, according to recent online education statistics, 50% of undergraduates find their online education experience to be about the same in quality as traditional in-person education. A significant 39% claimed that it is better. Only 11% reported that it is not that good. About 52% of graduate students, on the other hand, reported that their online experience was better than their experiences in the traditional setting. Only 10% reported that it is not that good. The rest, at 38%, reported that both are about the same. But, of course, not all programs are created equal. The quality would depend on the particular institution that offers them.
Also, it is best to find online dual degree programs that are accredited. Enrolling in an accredited program not only ensures that the quality of education is good but also it gives you a bigger chance of getting hired. You can easily check what kind of accreditation your prospective programs have on the school’s website or do a quick search on your favorite search engine.
The Pros and Cons of Dual Degree Programs
Advantages of Getting Dual Degree
- You’ll broaden your knowledge and skill sets. Perhaps the biggest benefit of a dual degree program is that you get to learn more and become an expert in more than one field of study. This can help you feel more fulfilled since you’ll be able to study both fields you’re interested in.
- You’ll have more choices in terms of potential career paths. Studying two fields equally means you’ll acquire lots of experience with and knowledge of them both. As a result, you’ll have a higher number of relevant job options available to you after graduation.
- You’ll save money on a graduate degree. If you’re doing a combined bachelor’s/master’s or graduate/graduate dual degree program, you’ll actually be saving money on what you would have spent had you pursued each degree separately. This is because most dual degree programs allow (and encourage) overlapping classes—i.e., classes that count toward both of your degrees.
Disadvantages of Getting a Dual Degree
- You’re spending more time in school without stopping. For some people, this factor alone can be a deal-breaker. With a dual degree program, regardless of the types of degrees you’re pursuing, you’ll be spending more time in school without the chance to take a break and fit in some work experience.
- You’re spending more money at once. Even though you’ll likely be saving money in the long run by getting a dual degree, you still have to spend a lot of money upfront for things such as credits, tuition, and housing.
- It might not increase your earning potential. While a dual degree can broaden your career prospects, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee you’ll earn a higher income than if you’d opted for a single degree. However, this depends a lot on what fields you’re studying and what degrees you’re getting (for example, there’s a big difference between getting two BAs and getting a JD and a PhD!).
Best Undergraduate Dual Degree Programs
|Institution||Degree||Field(s) of Emphasis|
|Amherst College||Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought||Law, politics, religion, history, and philsophy|
|Barnard College||Science and Public Policy|
|Boston University||Philosophy and Neuroscience|
|Brandeis University||Health: Science, Society, and Policy||Anthropology, biology, psychology, sociology, policy, pubic health, epidemiology, and/or statistics|
|Brown University||Behavioral Decision Sciences||Psychology, cognitive science, economics, philosophy, computer science, and/or neuroscience|
|Brown University||Computer Science-Economics|
|Brown University||Contemplative Studies||Psychology, neuroscience, religion, philosophy, and/or anthropology|
|Brown University||Science, Technology, and Society||Multiple math and/or science-related disciplines alongside coursework in one of several thematic tracks, covering disciplines including history, philosophy, sociology, environmental studies, and other fields.|
|Bryn Mawr College (and Haverford College)||Growth and Structure of Cities||Urban planning/development, architecture, design, politics, economics, sociology, cultural studies, and research methods|
|California Institute of Technology||Engineering and Liberal Arts (3+2 Program)|
|Carnegie Mellon University||Engineering and Public Policy|
|Carnegie Mellon University||Human Computer Interaction||Psychology, statistics, computer science, and design|
|Carnegie Mellon University||Music and Technology||Music, engineering, and computer science|
|Carnegie Mellon University||Science, Technology & Public Policy||Science, computer science, engineering, economics, policy, decision-making, and/or data analysis|
|Case Western Reserve University||Engineering and Liberal Arts (3+2 Program)|
|Case Western Reserve University||Origins Sciences||Astronomy, mathematics, physics, planetary science, geology, biology, anthropology, and/or cognitive science|
|Claremont McKenna College||Environment, Economics, and Politics (EEP)||Economics, politics, statistics, biology, and/or chemistry|
|Claremont McKenna College||Philosophy and Public Affairs (PPA)|
|Claremont McKenna College||Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE)|
|Columbia University||Engineering and Liberal Arts (3+2 or 4+2 Program)|
|Dartmouth College||Engineering and Liberal Arts (3+2 Program)|
|George Washington University||Political Communication||Political science, communication, public relations, and media studies|
|Georgetown University||Business and Global Affairs||Business, politics, economics, international affairs, and/or foreign language|
|Georgetown University||Science, Technology, and International Affairs||Natural sciences, computer science, international affairs, global health, security, and/or business|
|Georgetown University||International Political Economy||Politics, economics, and international affairs|
|Georgia Institute of Technology||Engineering and Liberal Arts (3+2 Program)|
|Georgia Institute of Technology||History, Technology, and Society||History, science, medicine, economics, policy, and/or sociology|
|Lehigh University||Computer Science and Business (CSB)|
|Lehigh University||Integrated Business and Engineering (IBE)|
|Middlebury College||International Politics & Economics (IP&E)|
|New York University||Economics and Computer Science|
|New York University||Media, Culture, and Communication and Global Public Health||Epidemiology, media culture, politics, health policy, technology, and ethics.|
|New York University||Business and Political Economy||Business, politics, and economics|
|Northeastern University||Computer Science/Business|
|Northeastern University||Data Science and Behavioral Neuroscience|
|Northeastern University||Electrical Engineering and Music Technology|
|Northwestern University||Communication and Engineering|
|Pomona College||Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE)|
|Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute||Design, Innovation, and Society||Design, engineering, management, marketing, entrepreneurship, policy, history, and cutural studies|
|Stanford University||Symbolic Systems||Cognitive science, computer science artificial intelligence, psychology, and linguistics|
|Tufts University||Human Factors Engineering (Engineering Psychology)||Engineering, psychology, and design|
|Tufts University||Science, Technology, and Society||History, anthropology, sociology, public health, economics, math, statistics, and/or policy|
|Tulane University||Political Economy||Political science, economics, international relations, public policy, law, history, and/or philosophy|
|University of California, Berkeley||Management, Entrepreneurship, and Technology (MET)||Business, engineering, and/or computer science|
|University of California, Los Angeles||International Development Studies||Economics, political science, public health, geography, history, anthropology and/or sociology|
|University of California, San Diego||Computing and the Arts||Media, computer programming, visual art, and design|
|University of Chicago||Fundamentals: Issues and Texts||History, literature, science, politics, philsophy, and foreign language|
|University of Chicago||Law, Letters, and Society||Law, politics, philosophy, history, policy religion, and/or economics; students apply to the program in their sophomore year|
|University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign||CS + X||Computer science, along with advertising, animal scienes, anthropology, astronomy, chemistry, crop sciences, economics, geography, linguistics, philosophy, mathematics, and statistics|
|University of Michigan||Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE)|