Choosing an educational path may be challenging for students. With numerous options, it may help to better understand the type of degree options and how they may work to fit your goals. One area of consideration is whether a dual degree vs double major may work for your plans. Consider your future expectations and the type of career you hope to pursue. Here is a look at a dual degree vs double major.

What is a Dual Degree?

A dual degree is one in which students pursue two types of degrees at one or more colleges. In a dual degree, students may finish all of the major requirements and additional degree requirements of both programs in order to earn a dual degree. Typically, this is done by earning two programs in sequence to reach an MBA. It may also be done simultaneously in an undergraduate program.

Students who earn a dual degree program may have earned two separate degree programs. Sometimes this is two bachelors. Other times it may be a bachelor’s and a master’s. Depending on the structure and the student’s goals, it may take a bit longer to work through the entire process. The average time to earn a dual degree program is 5 to 6 years. Some students may need a bit longer to do this.

What Are Some Examples of Dual Degree Programs?

Schools create their own alignment of dual degree programs. That could mean that students may have options outside of this area. Here are some examples of dual degree programs at some schools.

  • Agricultural Education and Business Administration
  • Aerospace Engineering and Business Administration
  • Accounting and Entrepreneurship
  • Accounting and Healthcare Management
  • Genetics and Medicine
  • Finance and Business Analytics
  • Journalism and Public Administration
  • Philosophy and Law
  • Nursing and Pharmacy
  • Natural Resources and Business Administration
  • Urban Planning and Real Estate Development

What is a Double Major?

A double major typically offers an integrated approach to allow students to earn a double major by working to meet the major requirements for more than one program. They may do this at one or more colleges. In this situation, the student only needs to take the additional courses needed for the second major to earn a double. The student’s transcript is likely to show the student earned a second major but does not indicate the student earned a second degree program.

In a double, a student may find there is less of a workload in comparison to a dual degree program. That is because there are often several courses that may count for both degree programs. The student is not always taking all new courses to finish the second area of study. In a double major, students do not typically have a lot of extra coursework. Often, a full time student may be able to earn their double major within four years without needing additional education.

What Are Some Examples of Double Major Programs?

A double major could include a wide range of programs of study. Students could link nearly any bachelor’s program with another bachelor’s for example, to earn a double major (remember, this only leads to one degree program). Here are a few examples:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Geography
  • Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Chemistry
  • Bachelor of Science in Economics and Financial Planning
  • Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems and Accountancy
  • Bachelor of Science in Economics and Supply Chain Management

What Is the Difference in Dual Degree vs Double Major?

As you prepare for your college education, you may run into terms like dual degree program vs double major and may not be sure which is the path for you. A dual degree program occurs when a person pursues two types of degree programs while attending one college or university (or sometimes more than one location). In a double major, the student earns all of the major requirements for more than one program. The differences may be hard to spot.

In a dual degree program, a student earns all of the major and degree program requirements in both of the programs they enroll in. The student works to satisfy the academic requirements of two very different and distinct types paths. They may be able to apply the coursework they work through for one program to fulfill the needs of the second program as well. In this situation, the student needs to pursue a path that includes a significant amount of additional coursework to earn two undergraduate degree programs.

By comparison, in a double major, the student works through a program of study that then meets the requirements of two majors in a single bachelor’s degree program. Students work through the program of study to finish courses necessary to meet the requirements for each of the two majors. The course together meet the general education requirements. Typically, the credit hours needed for a double major are about equal to the number needed for the major with the highest number of credits between the two.

Dual Degree vs Double Major

A dual degree vs double major is a significantly different process to pursuing education from a college or university. Though students typically are earning an education that is more robust in both methods, including earning more than a traditional bachelor’s or master’s, there are a number of differences in the way these two programs relate. Here are some areas for consideration.

Timelines

A dual degree program may take more time to earn because students need to work through all of the educational requirements for both educational programs they take. As a result, a dual degree program may take 5 to 6 years to finish.

A double major does not require a second set of courses as many of the courses overlap. That allows the student to earn their double major within the traditional 4 years if they are studying full time.

Coursework Requirements

Many students in a dual degree program spend a significant amount of time on coursework. There is more to cover and learn. That may mean less time for other activities in order to ensure there is enough time to earn all of the necessary courses.

In a double major, that is less likely to be the case. Students do not need to work through more coursework, but some programs may require a few additional classes.

Costs

Since a double major does not require additional coursework or credit hours earned, students may expect the costs to remain about the same, though some costs could be higher depending on how well the two programs overlap.

The longer time required to earn a dual degree program is longer. There are more courses to take typically. The number of additional courses is dependent on how well the two programs line up. However, there is typically a need for more education, which may make it more costly to finish this program over other options. However, the actual difference depends on the number of additional credit hours needed.

Requirements for Enrollment

In both situations, it is typical for the school and programs to set requirements for entry into those programs. This may range widely. Many times, students have to apply to each program separately to gain admission into it. Guidance counselors and advisors typically provide oversight into what to expect throughout this process.

Students may find different requirements for each program. They may need to meet all requirements before being considered for these programs.

What the Student Learns

Making the decision about a dual degree program or double major is a big one. Ultimately, students may wish to focus on what the student earns after completion of these programs. In the case of a dual degree program, the student earns two separate degree programs. These could be in varied areas, though they often relate in some way.

In a double major, the student does not earn two degree programs. They only earn one degree program. However, they have two areas within that degree program. In many situations, these programs are very similar but may have different scopes or different areas of concentration within the field.

Dual Degree vs Double Major

Here is a chart that breaks down this a bit more to provide you with more insight into what you may expect throughout the process.

Double MajorDual Degree
CostTuition would remain the same as the number of credits required remains the same to graduate.Tuition rates may vary based on the total number of credits required based on the types of degree program programs and if the classes overlap between the two programs.
CreditsThe number of credits required for a single degree from the school.On average, 150 credits for two bachelors or a bachelors and a masters degree. Approximately 60 credits if pursuing two masters degrees.
LengthMay be finished in the same time as a single major.If pursuing two bachelors or a bachelors and masters degree programs five years. Three years if pursuing two masters degree programs simultaneously.
RequirementsThe requirements may vary by program and may overlap depending on the two majors. In many cases, only one capstone may need to be finished.The requirements may vary based on the specific programs pursued. The practicum and capstones for both programs may need to be finished.
GoalOne degree program that provides two specific areas of concentration.Two different degree programs possibly of different levels.
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  • Qualified students with 2.5 GPA and up may receive up to $20K in grants & scholarships
  • Multiple term start dates throughout the year. 24/7 online classroom access

If You Double Major, Do You Earn Two Degrees?

No, when you double major, you do not earn two degree programs. Rather, you earn a single degree program with two focus areas. A double major occurs when there are two majors that equate to one, single degree program. For example, a person may be working to earn a bachelor’s in accounting and finance. The two programs combined equate to a single Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Finance, rather than two separate paths.

Keep in mind the amount of time it takes to earn a double major may not be much different than a traditional educational path with a single major because some of the courses fulfill both areas.

On the other hand, a dual degree program leads to two different degree programs finished. This allows a student to pursue the education needed to earn two very different programs. An example here could be a student pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Marketing as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Media Studies. These paths are specific and earning both typically means working through a wider range of studies and coursework.

Should You Pursue a Dual Degree or Double Major?

Pursuing a dual degree program or a double major may be optimal for those who want to have a very specific level of education and the support they need to work in a specific field. Either option provides students with a more in depth educational path than taking just a single bachelor’s or master’s path. Either option may be beneficial based on what the student’s goals are.

What are the potential advantages and disadvantages of a dual degree program?

Some of the advantages include:

  • Students typically develop professional flexibility, meaning they may have the qualifications and skills to work in a number of fields. This may also include developing core skills, such as communication or analytical skills, that may apply to numerous career paths.
  • Students may have more options to choose from after completing their education.
  • Some students use both degree programs together, but they may also be used independently if the career the student is pursuing does not require both.
  • MBA dual degree programs may be a cost saving option instead of earning two degree programs one after the other.

Some potential disadvantages include:

  • Dual degree programs require a significant amount of time commitment throughout the school year as well as for five or more years. That could be difficult for some students.
  • There is a significant cost upfront for tuition and school expenses.
  • It may be competitive to enter into a dual degree program, depending on the school and program, with some students being unable to do so due to limited access.
  • Studying two programs at the same time may be a lot of work for some students to maintain.

What are the potential advantages and disadvantages of a double major program?

Some of the advantages include:

  • Students may work on two educational paths but earn their double major at the same time, requiring less time spent in school than a dual degree program.
  • The costs are no higher than earning a single degree program in many cases.
  • Having two educational tracks under your belt may help open the door to different job opportunities in which skills from both degree programs may be beneficial to you.
  • It may help you stand out from those who do not have that level of education.

Some of the disadvantages include:

  • Some programs may require more time than four years to earn. Some schools may require additional courses to extend the time in school.
  • Students may find the last few semesters of a double major challenging due to the amount of work to finish in more than one capstone course.
  • There is a need to balance time carefully as there may be a significant amount of additional work to do to earn both paths.

Which path is the one for you?

This really depends on what you hope to learn. You may also wish to consider your long term goals and whether your potential future employer cares if you earned a double major or a dual degree program. Sometimes, they do not care how you did it but rather that you have those skills.

Salary and Job Outlook

In many situations, the salary and job outlook for students earning a dual degree program or a double majors program is dependent on the specific courses selected and earned, but also the type of work they plan to do.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that it is typically beneficial for students to earn a degree program instead of not pursuing higher education. For example, in 2020, those with a bachelor’s had median weekly earnings of about $1,305, while those with just a high school diploma had weekly earnings of $781.

The question is, does having two degree programs or taking a double major help you earn more? That is difficult to answer since there is a broad spectrum of consideration here. A study conducted by Cambridge University found that about 20% of college graduates double majored, though most did so in related areas. That means there is less overall diversity in their education. The study went on to find that those who earned a STEM and a business double major saw significant advantages and earned more than those who had a liberal arts major.

This is an offer for educational opportunities that may lead to employment and not an offer for nor a guarantee of employment. Students should consult with a representative from the school they select to learn more about career opportunities in that field. Program outcomes vary according to each institution’s specific program curriculum.