What is a Dual Degree Program?

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What Is a Dual Degree Program?

A dual degree program allows students to earn two degrees at the same time. Students choose dual degrees for several reasons. Some may want to pursue long-term goals that require multiple degrees. For example, those interested in becoming lawyers specializing in environmental law can combine a bachelor’s in criminal justice with a bachelor’s in environmental science. Others may not be sure what career they want to pursue and may choose to earn multiple degrees to give them more options post-graduation. Finally, some students simply enjoy learning and want to have multiple degrees under their belt.

What Is the Difference Between a Dual Degree Program and a Double Major?

The main difference when comparing a dual degree vs. double major is a student who chooses to double major graduates with only one degree. Students typically pursue double majors within the same school or discipline. For instance, someone getting a literature degree may also major in communications. This student pursues the required coursework for both majors but graduates with something like a bachelor of arts in literature and communications.

With double majors, students usually study fields within the same degree type. For example, pursuing two complementary bachelor of arts majors or two bachelor of science majors. Whereas, with a dual-degree program, students can choose to earn both a bachelor of arts and a bachelor of science degree.

Students who choose to double major often have to develop their own course roadmap, whereas dual degree programs already have one in place. Also, students who choose to double major typically only need to get permission from a faculty member or department. Dual degree programs often have a formal application process.

Does it Make Sense to Double Major?

What Are the Benefits of a Dual Degree Program?

A dual degree program may take longer and cost more money to complete. However, students choosing this option end up with two degrees for a price that often costs less than if they were to graduate and come back later to get a second degree. Pursuing a double major costs less than a dual-degree option initially. These students typically graduate within four years, but they may not be as marketable when seeking employment after graduation.

In today’s competitive job market, students should look for anything that gives them an advantage after graduation. Getting two degrees looks good on a resume. It shows both ambition and the ability to work hard. Therefore, a student with two degrees can expect to have a leg up over their peers who finished school with only one degree.

Students currently in college with varied degree interests, or with doubts about which degree path to choose, may also benefit from pursuing a dual degree. These degrees provide students with further education or career paths to choose from after graduation.

Dual-degree programs also offer other advantages. Students in dual-degree programs learn from experts in multiple disciplines, which can expand their breadth of knowledge, as well as their marketable skills.

Similarly, dual-degree programs increase potential networking possibilities, providing students the opportunity to build a much wider web of connections that could prove useful after graduation. The dual degree route also makes sense for students who know what career they want to pursue and want to specialize in. For example, someone interested in law could get degrees in both criminal justice and business. This combination opens the door to a career in business law should an individual decide to earn a law degree in the future.

What Kind of Degrees Can I Get in a Dual Degree Program?

The types of dual degrees available differ from institution to institution. However, some popular combinations for undergraduate degrees include a bachelor of arts combined with a bachelor of science or a bachelor of fine arts with a bachelor of science.

Some colleges and universities also allow students to get a bachelor’s and a master’s at the same time. This typically looks like a bachelor of arts combined with a master of arts or a bachelor of science combined with a master of science.

Students can also complete a master’s and a professional degree like a juris doctor (JD) as part of a dual-degree program. Many variations exist, but one of the most popular combinations is a master of business administration (MBA) and a JD.

Popular Dual Degree Programs


    This dual-degree program combines a master of business administration with a master of science in nursing. The MBA/MSN route caters to nurses looking to transition into an administrative role. The program generally takes two to three years to complete.

  • BA/MA or BS/MS Programs

    These programs consist of either a bachelor of arts and a master of arts or a bachelor of science and a master of science. The career paths for these degrees vary. A person with both a BS and MS may look to become a software developer, an engineer, or even an instructor. The same is true for someone with both a BA and an MA. For example, a person with a BA in English and a MA in journalism may become a journalist, editor, or reporter. These programs typically take about five to six years to complete.

  • MBA/JD Programs

    An MBA and a JD is a common pairing for those interested in pursuing some aspect of business law, such as becoming a corporate attorney or consultant. Most dual-degree MBA/JD programs take four years to complete.

  • MD/Ph.D. Programs

    The doctor of medicine and doctor of philosophy dual-degree program is often a trajectory for those looking for a career in research. Individuals with these degrees tend to conduct research either at a university or for a pharmaceutical company. This path takes the longest of all the popular dual-degree programs. It takes between seven to eight years for the coursework, followed by another three to seven years of training in a clinical or research setting.

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