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Dual Degree vs Double Major: Navigating Your Academic Choices

28/08/202310 minute read
Dual Degree vs Double Major: Navigating Your Academic Choices

For those seeking an interdisciplinary college experience, deciding whether to take on a dual degree or a double major can be quite a dilemma. In light of that, this article is aimed at high school students and their parents - who are seeking to understand the differences and potential benefits of dual degrees and double majors.

Today, interdisciplinary studies in the form of dual degrees and double majors have gained prominence and popularity, as prospective college students seek to bolster their education and career prospects through a more rigorous and diverse academic experience.

Dual degrees and double majors allow students to pursue studies in two separate fields simultaneously, enabling them to acquire expertise and competencies in two distinct – or related sectors.

Naturally, this could provide graduates with a competitive edge in the process of job-hunting, given their interdisciplinary expertise, which may be attractive to employers in sectors which value diverse and broad skillsets.

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What are Dual Degrees and Double Majors?

Double majoring entails the study of two separate fields for a single degree - resulting in specializations in two disciplines within one single degree. While you can earn a degree with a major and a minor in different disciplines, a single degree will focus primarily on the major – whereas a double major places equal importance on both majors.

Be careful not to confuse a double major with a dual degree program. A dual degree entails the study of two different academic degrees at the same time, often from two distinct academic disciplines. This entails the study of two separate degrees from two different disciplines simultaneously, thus requiring greater years of study, with a more rigorous workload. 

In essence, double majoring entails the study of two majors within the span of a single degree, whereas dual degrees culminate in two separate degrees upon completion. 

The Benefits of Dual Degrees and Double Majors

The benefits of obtaining an interdisciplinary college education – in the form of a dual degree or double major - can be substantial and noteworthy. For one, graduates acquire a wider breadth and depth of knowledge, attaining expertise across a wider ambit of modules and fields.

In turn, this interdisciplinary skillset can greatly bolster graduates’ job prospects and marketability, particularly in industries or companies where professionals with a breadth of expertise are sought after. For instance, having an interdisciplinary background can be beneficial and a good fit for policymaking roles in the civil service where a plethora of stakeholders and issues spanning different fields have to be considered.

In the climate where millennials are increasingly embarking on mid-career switches, a broader area of study will open more doors to a wider variety of career options upon graduation. This translates into more back up career options, should you decide along your course of study that either one of your chosen disciplines is not best aligned with your interests.

On a pragmatic note, while the pursuit of two degrees at once can be extremely rigorous and demanding, it is also more time and cost efficient in the long run - compared to the separate pursuit of two undergraduate (bachelor) degrees. 

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The Challenges of Dual Degrees and Double Majors

While the pursuit of a dual degree can come with numerous career opportunities - with potential career advantages to be accrued, it is imperative to approach this decision in a holistic and informed manner. After all, the perks are by no means presented on a silver platter; rather, they are arguably earned through a grueling and demanding rite of passage – requiring grit, perseverance, and dedication.

  • Increased Workload 

Firstly, the pursuit of a dual degree or a double major likely entails a greater workload, compared to a conventional single degree. One must therefore consider his/her own ability to take on a substantial amount of stress and workload, while maintaining a judicious balance with other considerations like work-life balance and mental health. 

  • Time Constraints and Complex Course Planning 

Beyond a greater academic commitment, another hurdle to overcome arises in the form of scheduling conflicts. This challenge arises from the different classes or schedules designed for each degree. As such, adept time management and meticulous scheduling will be necessary skills and disciplines that a dual degree will likely call for.

  • Financial Considerations

Beyond intellectual and organizational challenges, depending on personal circumstances, a double degree program can pose a financial strain. It is inevitable that it requires more years of study prior to graduation compared to a conventional single degree given its higher workload – incurring greater financial costs. 

However, it is useful to keep in mind that many colleges do offer financial aid and scholarships, which could ameliorate this cause of concern where one is fortunate to secure financial assistance.

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Examples of Double Majors and Dual Degrees
Dual DegreesBA/BS: Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of ScienceHistory (BA) and Biology (BS)
BA/MA: Bachelor of Arts/Master of ArtsPsychology (BA), Counselling Psychology (MA)
BS/MS: Bachelor of Science/Master of ScienceComputer Science (BS) and Data Science (MS)
BA/LLB: Bachelor of Business Administration (BA) and Law (LLB)
Double MajorsBA/BA: Bachelor of Arts in two different disciplinesEnglish and Philosophy
BS/BS: Bachelor of Science in two different disciplinesChemistry and Environmental Science
BA/BS: Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of SciencePolitical Science (BA) and Computer Science (BS)

Career Opportunities and Outcomes: Dual Degrees vs Double Majors

As aforementioned, an interdisciplinary college education can enhance career prospects significantly, especially in sectors which value expertise across different disciplines. For instance, a dual degree in engineering and business can provide graduates an edge in attaining management roles in technology firms. 

Similarly, a double major in public policy and a related science or humanities field can equip individuals for a promising career in the civil service, especially in policy related roles. 

Last but not least, a double degree in business administration and business analytics could see a graduate gain the edge he or she needs to attain a coveted spot in top financial or banking institutions. 

Dual Degree or Double Major - Which is Right for You?

Ultimately, deciding whether a dual degree or a double major is the right path forward is contingent upon ambitions, interests, aptitudes, and idiosyncratic dispositions. The notion of specialising in two fields at once can seem like a definite plus on the surface, but it is not necessary for career success, nor are the perks handed on a silver platter. 

Prospective college students should therefore carefully weigh the challenges of a heavy academic workload against the potential career benefits, and crucially reflect on their personal ambitions, interests, and aptitudes. 

Beyond interests and aspirations, remember to prioritise your wellbeing, or any work life balance concerns you may have. A dual degree/major could be rewarding for those seeking an interdisciplinary academic experience, but it may not be suitable for everyone. 

What Makes Crimson Different

Final Thoughts

Having to finalize a decision on your academic path for the next four, five years or so can be Herculean endeavor. Fret not, you need not walk this journey alone.

Make full use of any existing resources available. Seek advice from your school career advisors, mentors, seniors, or tutors. Their invaluable guidance and years of experience can translate into insights that may help inform your decision.

Alternatively, you could contact Crimson Education for personalised advice and assistance in navigating your college application process! With Crimson Education’s profound expertise, we are well equipped to optimise and ease the process of formulating an academic program that best aligns with your aspirations and dispositions. 

Time and tide wait for no man – take swift action and seek out the college path of your dreams today!