Dual Degree vs Double Major: What are the Differences and Benefits?

When you enroll in a bachelor’s degree program, you have to declare at least one major. However, if you have strong interests in two fields, you can choose to earn a dual degree vs a double major. Both allow you to deepen your knowledge in two different areas at the same time. Both also open up a wider range of career choices for you. However, there are a few significant differences between the two.  Enrolling in a dual degree program allows you to earn two credentials in different fields while a double major results in a single degree in two distinct areas of specialization.  

Understanding dual degree vs double major can help you make an informed decision about which one is right for you. Here’s a guide to tell you all you need to know.

What Is A Dual Degree? 

A dual degree involves studying two distinctly different fields simultaneously in order to earn two separate degrees. It is also known as a double degree. The combination of degrees varies among universities. Some may offer students 2 types of bachelor’s degrees. Others may offer a combination of a bachelor’s and master’s degrees. On completing the program, you’ll receive two degrees, one for each of the fields in which you’ve specialized.  

A dual degree in ‘Foreign Language’ and ‘International Relations’ is a classic example of two degrees that are different but complement each other. A dual degree in Business Administration and Marketing is another hugely popular dual degree program that boosts employability. Chemistry and Biology or Engineering and Music are other popular dual degree choices. 

In most cases, you’ll also have to apply and get accepted into two separate schools within a university. This is because you are in fact applying for two different degree programs and most universities have different schools for different programs. To earn your dual degree, it is mandatory to complete all essential requirements for both degrees. This includes general ed courses and major courses. 

Because you’re completing two different fields, earning a dual degree program takes longer than a regular undergraduate program. This means if you’re pursuing a dual degree, you’ll must be prepared to pay more towards tuition, boarding and accommodations, and all other costs. On the other hand, a dual degree will save you time and money compared to pursuing different degrees at diff times. 

What Is a Double Major?

With a double major, you graduate with a single bachelor’s degree in two different academic disciplines. Choosing two majors that are related or complement each other is beneficial but it isn’t mandatory. You can choose two majors from completely different fields. To earn your degree, you must meet the program requirements and complete all essential coursework for both of your chosen majors.  

Students who complete a double major program typically graduate with a more comprehensive skill. This gives them a huge competitive edge when it comes to scoring higher-paying jobs after graduating. 

Economics and mathematics are among the most popular double majors. The combination of Criminal Justice and Psychology is popular with students interested in pursuing a legal career. Political science and foreign language is another interesting combination for students interested in a career involving foreign relations. These programs are typically offered by the same school or college within a university. They also qualify you for the same type of degree such as a BA, BS, BFA, or similar. However, the application policies vary among universities so make sure to check if you’re interested in double majoring. 

The time to earn a double major and a single major may be the same or different depending on your chosen fields of study. If you choose a major that requires more credits to complete, you’ll take longer to complete the program, even if you attend full-time. On the other hand, if the two majors you’re interested in are in two very different fields, you’ll probably have to apply for a dual degree program instead. 

 Double Major vs Dual Degree: Major Differences

You know what is a double major and what is a dual degree. However, understanding the exact differences between the two can be confusing. Highlighting the differences between a double major and a dual degree can help make it easier.

Double Major

  • You fulfill the coursework and requirements for two separate majors but only earn one degree
  • It may or may not take longer to complete than a traditional bachelor’s degree program
  • Costs the same as earning a single degree
  • You don’t need to apply for admission into different schools
  • On completing the program, you’ll earn one degree with two areas of specialization

Dual Degree

  • You fulfill the coursework and requirements to earn two different degrees
  • It almost always takes longer to finish than a traditional bachelor’s degree program
  • More course requirements results in higher overall tuition costs unless you choose overlapping classes
  • You’ll need to apply and get accepted to two different schools within the same university
  • On completing the program, you’ll receive two separate degrees

Benefits of Dual Degree and Double Major

Despite the many significant differences between dual degrees vs double majors, these two benefits are common to both. 

  1. They both allow you to study more than one academic field at the same time, saving you a considerable amount of time and money. Studying two fields also expands your knowledge of the related fields and improves your analytical skills. 
  2. Studying two fields, whether as a double major or dual degree, allows you to acquire a more diverse set of skills. This can have a significant positive impact on your career prospects after graduation.  Not only will you be able to explore a wider array of careers but you’ll also start off on a higher starting salary. 

Is A Dual Degree Or A Double Major Better?

The exact benefits of a dual degree or a double major will depend on your academic history and career objectives, but both can prepare you for professional success.

You can find dual-degree programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Double majors, by contrast, are more common in bachelor’s programs, and many colleges provide these options to accommodate the growing number of first-year students with a significant number of AP and IB credits.

Which Is Better: Dual Degree Vs Double Major  

No single option is better than the other for all students. A dual degree may be the better option for some students while a double major may be better suited to others. The best option for you will depend on your areas of interest as well as your long-term personal and professional goals. You also need to take into consideration what resources you have available in terms of time and money.  

If you’re considering either a dual degree or double major, it’s always a good idea to speak to a college advisor or academic counselor first. They have a lot of experience with guiding students make the right choices and can help you determine which is the better option for you. 

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