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Dual Degree Programs Guide

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

An unidentified female student typing on a laptop and writing on her notebook as part of her dual degree program

Dual Degree Programs Guide

What are dual degree programs?

What are dual degree programs? Dual degrees, also known as “double degrees,” are programs that let you complete two degrees at once. The two degrees may be in related fields, giving students the chance to get two degrees faster than it would have taken them to do it independently.

Young woman writing on a table.

Dual degrees are especially beneficial if one degree concentrates on professional capacity (legal, accounting, marketing, or knowledge of a foreign language) and the other concentrates on topics that are important to you or the industry you intend to work in (environmental science, international affairs, public health, theater, faith-based organizations, museum studies, library science).

Dual Degree versus Double Major

Although they are distinct, it is simple to conflate a dual degree with a double major.

  • Dual Degree: Earned two equal degrees
  • Double Major: One degree is earned, allowing two areas of emphasis (majors)

A dual degree can be the best choice for you if you know what occupation you want to pursue before you even start college. It can speed up the process of earning more advanced degrees or complementing degrees. Either choice can make an impression on potential employers by demonstrating to them your high level of motivation and education.

How do dual degree programs work?

How do dual degree programs work? In order to guarantee that students graduate on time and with all of their required credits, dual-degree programs often adhere to a fairly set format. Although various colleges have distinct prerequisites, some credits may be applied to both programs.

For instance, students pursuing dual bachelor’s degrees at Lehigh University must complete 30 additional credits in order to obtain a second degree. Senior-year students in bachelor’s-programs master’s may enroll in graduate-level courses that satisfy both undergraduate and graduate requirements.

Male student using a laptop for college application in a libaray.

Students who enroll in dual-degree programs might save money on tuition while also saving time. For instance, many bachelor’s-dual-degree master’s programs can be finished in just five years as opposed to the typical six years required to complete a discrete bachelor’s program followed by a discrete master’s program. Additionally, it enables students to enter the workforce earlier and begin making a living income.

At the same college or university, students frequently enroll in courses from other departments. However, some choices might also offer courses through affiliated institutions. Make sure you fully comprehend and can fulfill any travel requirements prior to enrolling in programs that span several universities. While some programs might only be available online, others can call for various sites of in-person participation.

Applications for Dual Degree Programs

You will probably need to submit applications for dual degree programs to your schools of interest individually if you’re a prospective graduate student looking to pursue a dual degree. Admission to one graduate program does not imply or guarantee admission to another because admission decisions for different graduate programs are made independently. You are eligible to apply for dual status after being accepted by both.

If you are applying for multiple jobs at once, take care to follow each application procedure exactly. Avoid “recycling” parts of applications, such as your personal statement, to satisfy requirements in other applications.

Each application you submit should be tailored to the program you’re seeking for. Additionally, if you are not applying for both degree programs at the same time, make sure to include in your personal statement whether you want to pursue dual-degree status now or in the future. In order for an adviser to guide you as you advance through your graduate career and manage your dual degrees, it is crucial to identify these interests as early as possible.

Unidentified person holding a college application for a dual degree program

Additionally, this is your chance to discuss how the dual degree will benefit your career goals. When reading your statement, the admissions committee will want to know that you have carefully studied your alternatives, are aware of how the two degrees will complement and enrich one another and are aware of the steps required to meet your professional aspirations.

Once you’re enrolled in your graduate program, there can also be options to apply for other degrees. If you were rejected for a dual degree when you first applied to graduate school, you might want to reapply to the second program the following year if it still aligns with your career objectives after you’ve had a chance to improve your candidacy.

When applying to other programs, admission to highly competitive on-campus schools like law or medicine can help you establish your qualifications. Having said that, the fact remains that in order to pursue a dual degree, a candidate must have the credentials and prerequisites for both programs.

Be sure to check the specifics for your chosen schools and areas of interest because the application process for a dual degree can differ by program and university.

What kind of dual degree programs are there?

It might be challenging to ascertain how many different sorts of dual degree programs there are because there is such a wide range of majors and fields you can combine for a dual degree.

Examining them in terms of the types of degrees they grant is the simplest approach to grouping them. As a result, we  identify the following three categories:

  • Courses Offering Two Bachelor’s Degrees
  • Programs offering both bachelor’s and master’s degrees
  • Double graduate/professional degree programs

Which universities provide dual degree programs?

Which universities provide dual degree programs? It falls within the three primary categories described above.

1. Courses Offering Two Bachelor’s Degrees

There are numerous universities in the US that offer dual degree programs that grant two bachelor’s degrees.

You could obtain any combination of bachelor’s degrees through this program. The following are some of the most popular bachelor’s degrees awarded in dual degree programs for undergraduates:

  • Degree in the arts (BA)
  • Degree in science (BS)
  • Art Bachelor’s degree (BFA)
  • Degree in Music (BM)
  • Business Administration Bachelor’s degree (BBA)
  • Degree in applied sciences (BAS)

As previously said, the two bachelor’s degrees you select to earn in your dual degree program will usually be offered by different universities; therefore, in order to enroll in the program, you will typically need to apply to and be accepted by both universities.

A woman painting on a room as part of her dual degree program

Here are a few instances of well-known colleges that offer dual degree programs that award two bachelor’s degrees:

Boston University

  • BA/BS, BA/BFA, BA/BM, BS/BFA, and BS/BM Boston University
  • Credit specifications vary. Only open to some major combos.

Brown University

  • BA/BS
  • 38 credits minimum and ten semesters (five years).

Columbia University

  • BA/BS in Engineering
  • Program is 3-2: three years in the liberal arts curriculum and two years in Columbia Engineering (with students applying in the junior year)

Cornell University

  • BA/BS or BFA/BS
  • Normally lasts five years and requires students to complete 30 unique courses for each degree. Only open to some major combos

Northwestern University

  • BS/BE and BM degrees in engineering Music
  • Both degrees accept foundational coursework. If not, you must finish all the extra requirements for both degrees.

New York University

  • Various combinations available pending university permission.
  • Students are free to combine different degrees.

Stanford University

  • BA/BS
  • at least 225 credits

University of Alabama

  • BA/BS
  • 30 extra credits minimum

University of Denver

  • BA/BS, BA/BFA, BS/BFA, BA/BM, BFA/BM, etc.
  • 228 quarter hours minimum. There are numerous conceivable bachelor’s degree combinations.

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

  • There are numerous ways to combine LAS (Liberal Arts Studies) degree programs with other degrees.
  • Must finish 30 hours beyond the degree option with the highest hourly requirement.

University of Michigan

  • BA/BS, BA/BFA, BA/BMA*, BA/BTA**, etc.
  • Must finish 150 credits at the very least. May select existing software or develop their own.

University of Notre Dame

  • BA/BS
  • 5-year course of study.

2. Programs offering both bachelor’s and master’s degrees

You receive a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from a dual degree program, typically within five to six years.

In contrast to the program previously mentioned, you can complete graduate-level study while enrolled in undergraduate courses. You will graduate with a master’s degree and a bachelor’s degree. You may receive your undergraduate degree first and your graduate degree a year or so later (in some programs).

The following are some of the most typical types of dual degree programs that combine bachelor’s and master’s degrees:

  • Degree in the Arts (BA)
  • Degree in Science (BS)
  • Arts Master’s (MA)
  • Ph.D. in science (MS)
  • Engineering Master’s (ME)
  • Public Policy Master’s (MPP)
  • Public Administration Master’s (MPA)
  • Business Administration Master’s (MBA)

The following list of well-known colleges and universities that offer dual bachelor’s and master’s degree programs include:

American Universities

  • Varies
  • To apply, you must have a 3.0 GPA and at least 75 credits achieved.

Boston College

  • MA/BA, MS/BA
  • needed 144–160 credits (varies depending on program).

The George Washington University

  • Varies
  • Offers both dual and joint programs, in which you can complete both degrees at once (in which you earn your degrees at different times).

Harvard

  • Degrees in Liberal Arts (BA, BS, MA, MS, etc.)
  • 96 credits for a BA are required, along with a GPA of 3.5 or better. People with bachelor’s degrees already are not eligible.

Johns Hopkins

  • BS/MS in Engineering
  • Current JHU undergraduates who have not yet finished eight full semesters are required. All enrolled students receive Dean’s Master’s Fellowships, which cover half their tuition.

New York University

  • BA/MPA, BA/MUP*, and BS/MUP
  • A 5-year course of study. Either a public administration or urban planning major is required.

Northwestern University

    • Varies
  • “Limited to particular degree programs within the University” and “restricted to undergraduates.”

Ohio State University

  • Varies
  • 90 undergraduate credits with a 3.5 GPA must be completed.

Rochester Institute of Technology

  • MBA, BS/ME, and BS/MS
  • Students can come up with their own dual degree plans. No changes are allowed to the completion requirements; they must be “similar to the approved degree programs.”

Chicago University

  • BA/MA, BA/MAT**, BA/MPP, BA/MS, and BS/MS degrees
  • Programs lasting four and five years are offered. Depending on the curriculum, different credits are required.

Georgia University

  • Varies
  • Combinations are restricted to specific disciplines of study and include BS/MS, Engineering/MBA, and BBA/MAcc.
  • Each school has its requirements.

University of Southern California

  • BA/MS, BA/MAcc, BS/MS, BA/MA, BS/BA, etc.
  • Medical practitioner master’s degrees and MBAs are not offered.
  • Both degree programs must be finished in 12 semesters (six years).

3. Double graduate/professional degree programs

A program that only awards graduate degrees is the third and final form of the dual degree program. A master’s degree plus a professional or doctorate, or two different master’s degrees, can be combined to create these.

For instance, many law schools offer dual degree programs so students can receive their Juris Doctor and a master’s or doctoral degree (often in a topic in which they intend to practice law) (JD).

Gavel placed on top of a notebook.

A few typical graduates and professional degrees that can be merged into dual degree programs are listed below:

  • Arts Master’s (MA)
  • Ph.D. in science (MS)
  • Public Policy Master’s (MPP)
  • Public health master’s degree (MPH)
  • Business Administration Master’s (MBA)
  • Graduate degree in engineering (MSE)
  • Ph.D. in social work (MSW)
  • Ph.D. in philosophy (Ph.D.)
  • Law Doctor (JD)
  • Medical doctor (MD)

The following degree combinations are some of the most popular: MA/Ph.D., MS/Ph.D., MA/JD, MBA/JD, JD/Ph.D., and MPH/MD. Popular graduate-level dual degree programs are illustrated below:

University of Duke

  • MBA/ Master’s, Master’s/JD, Master’s/JD, Master’s/Ph.D., Master’s/MD, and Master’s/MD
  • Admission to both programs is required. Programs have different hour requirements.

Georgetown College

  • MBA/ Master’s, Master’s/JD, Master’s/JD, Master’s/Ph.D., Master’s/MD, and Master’s/MD
  • limited to particular academic disciplines.

Rutgers College

  • JD can be combined with a number of degrees, such as MD, MA, MBA, MPH, PhD, MSW, etc.
  • A law student can combine their studies with another graduate degree offered by Rutgers or another university to get a dual degree.

Stanford University

  • JD/MBA, MBA/MA, MBA/MPP, MBA/MS, MBA/MD
  • Depending on the curriculum, different credits are required.

Suffolk University

  • MBA/MS, MS/MS, MBA/JD, LLM*/JD, MPA/JD, and MS/JD
  • only available in specific academic subjects. Variables include program length and credit requirements.

University of Arizona

  • A few examples include MAcc/MBA, MS/MS, MS/MBA, MS/JD, MA/JD, Ph.D./Ph.D., Ph.D./MD, Ph.D./JD, etc.
  • limited to particular academic disciplines. Students are not allowed to create their own dual degrees.

University of California at Los Angeles

  • M.A./J.D., M.A./M.P.H., M.A./M.S.W., etc.
  • Both programs must be applied for and approved.

University of Cincinnati

  • MBA/MS, MBA/MA, MBA/MSN**, JD/MA, JD/MBA, JD/PhD, and so on.
  • Both programs must accept the candidate.

University of Colorado Boulder

  • MA/MBA, MS/MBA, MS/ME, MA/MA, MBA/JD, JD/PhD, JD/MD, MS/JD, and JD/MPA.
  • limited to particular academic disciplines. Depending on the curriculum, different credits are required.

University of Illinois

  • Varies; includes combinations with an MA, MS, MArch, MBA, MPH, MSW, JD, PhD, MD, etc.
  • A student who wants to enroll in a combined degree program must be independently admitted as a joint degree candidate to each program.

University of Michigan

  • Varies; options include combining an MBA, JD, Ph.D., MD, MA, MS, MPH, MPP, MUP, and more.
  • Students can come up with their own dual degree plan. The number of credits needed varies per degree.

University of Texas at Austin

  • Only professional and master’s degrees; covers combinations with an MA, MS, MBA, MSE, JD, etc.
  • both programs must accept it. limited to particular academic disciplines.

Are dual degrees worth it?

Are dual degrees truly worth the investment of time, effort, and resources? While dual-degree programs have numerous benefits, such as the opportunity to study various subjects, they also have certain disadvantages. A large portion of the benefits and drawbacks are connected to completing more credits in less time.

To decide whether these solutions are right for you, take into account your personality, study habits, and professional objectives.

Advantages

More Career Options: Obtaining a dual degree may open more job opportunities. Graduates with two bachelor’s degrees can work in multiple fields, while those with a bachelor’s and a master’s degree can find more specialized employment.

Less Time Needed for a Master’s: Students who enroll in a combined bachelor’s-program masters can complete their degrees in five rather than six years.

Time Management Skills: Due to the somewhat demanding nature of their programs, dual-degree students frequently become very proficient time managers.

Interdisciplinary background: Graduates with knowledge and expertise in many but related subjects may be more appealing to job applicants.

Enhanced Skill Set: One of the primary advantages of pursuing a dual degree is the opportunity to develop a diverse skill set. Combining fields of study can equip you with a broader knowledge base, fostering a unique perspective that can be valuable in a variety of industries.

Marketability and Specialization: Certain dual degree combinations allow you to specialize in a niche area where both fields intersect. This specialization can make you a sought-after candidate, especially in roles that demand expertise in multiple domains.

Networking Opportunities: Pursuing dual degrees exposes you to a wider network of peers, professors, and professionals from different fields. This expanded network can provide diverse perspectives and potential collaboration opportunities.

Disadvantages

Greater Stress: Earning dual degrees compels students to enroll in a more demanding course of study. High levels of stress might be felt by students who are attempting to gain a lot of credits in a short period of time.

Less Flexibility: Students can be forced to adhere to a more rigid timetable with less latitude to retake subjects or choose unrestricted electives. Additionally, a student might not be able to stick to their original schedule if prerequisite coursework is not taken in the proper sequence.

Costs: Dual degrees can entail higher tuition fees and living expenses. You’ll need to assess whether the potential benefits of having two degrees outweigh the financial investment.

Career Focus: While dual degrees offer versatility, some employers may prefer candidates with specialized expertise in a single field. Researching your desired career path and determining if a dual degree aligns with your professional goals is crucial.

Integration and Depth: Integrating knowledge from two disciplines can be challenging, and you may find that the depth of understanding in each field could be compromised. Assess whether the dual degree program offers adequate depth in both subjects.

After reading this article, you should now have a much clearer understanding of what a dual degree is and how it can help you. You’re all set to begin your quest. Need more help? AdmissionSight can help you put your best foot forward when applying to college. We have over ten years of experience guiding students through the competitive admissions process.

Consult with AdmissionSight and see what we can offer to make sure that you are well-prepared and knowledgeable enough to enter your choice of school.

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