Ad­vice on ed­u­ca­tion, style and der­ma­tol­ogy

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Ad­vice from the best in the UAE.


Q What are dou­ble de­grees and dou­ble ma­jors, and what are the dif­fer­ences be­tween them? Which uni­ver­si­ties of­fer them?

AFor many stu­dents, one de­gree is sim­ply not enough. Ei­ther due to their am­bi­tions or de­sire to learn more, many stu­dents look to com­plete dual de­grees or dou­ble ma­jors dur­ing their time at univer­sity. While sound­ing sim­i­lar, these two vari­ants have some dis­tinct fea­tures that are vi­tal to note be­fore you de­cide on ei­ther. Why do ei­ther? You may want a broader ed­u­ca­tion than what you may get, fo­cus­ing on one area of ex­per­tise e.g. en­gi­neer­ing and fi­nance. You may do this out of a de­sire to broaden your hori­zons, ‘hedge’ your bets for fu­ture job searches, or sim­ply be­cause you can’t de­cide on ei­ther. Many stu­dents also pur­sue such an op­tion where one ma­jor is the more ‘prac­ti­cal, job-ori­ented’ one and the other their ‘true’ pas­sion.

Many jobs are at an in­ter­sec­tion of two dif­fer­ent fields, and thus uni­ver­si­ties have cre­ated dual de­grees to cater to these pro­grammes.

Ei­ther op­tion re­quires ex­tra work­load and aca­demic dis­ci­pline, as you are ef­fec­tively com­plet­ing two de­grees – many uni­ver­si­ties will re­quire you to com­plete the gen­eral re­quire­ments of each school if you are do­ing a de­gree from dif­fer­ent schools in the univer­sity e.g. lib­eral arts and en­gi­neer­ing.

Dual de­grees: Firstly, dual de­grees are not two sep­a­rate de­grees. Dual-de­gree pro­grammes in uni­ver­si­ties are in­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary pro­grammes that merge the two ma­jors into one co­he­sive pro­gramme. Think of it more as 1.75 de­grees rather than two ‘sin­gle’ de­grees. Thus, in the UK, these pro­grammes are faster to do than two ‘sin­gle’ de­grees. In the US, you may com­plete a dual de­gree in the usual four years. This time frame is im­por­tant to note as it changes with each univer­sity and coun­try.

Dual-de­gree pro­grammes are usu­ally far more work due to this com­pressed time frame. So, look at the work it en­tails, whether or not you are truly pas­sion­ate about both fields and the em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties af­ter com­ple­tion.

In many in­dus­tries, you will have bet­ter em­ploy­ment prospects if you have a dual de­gree as you are able to dis­play both work ethic and broader strate­gic think­ing skills. How­ever, be sure to do re­search about the in­dus­try you are look­ing – for ex­am­ple, dig­i­tal an­i­ma­tion prizes those who do a creative art and en­gi­neer­ing dual de­gree.

Dou­ble ma­jors: As the name sug­gests, it means two dif­fer­ent ma­jors that you pur­sue si­mul­ta­ne­ously. In the US, these are most com­mon in lib­eral arts pro­grammes such as eco­nom­ics and history. Dou­ble ma­jors are less in­te­grated. How­ever, if you are ex­tremely pas­sion­ate about both fields and want to study both, this is a good choice. In many uni­ver­si­ties, you’ll be ex­pected to com­plete the dou­ble ma­jors in the same time frame as a sin­gle ma­jor.

If you are look­ing to ‘hedge’ your op­tions by pur­su­ing one prac­ti­cal and one pas­sion de­gree, it is bet­ter to do a mi­nor in your pas­sion rather than be bogged down by the ex­tra work­load of a dou­ble ma­jor.

Dou­ble ma­jors can also be at­trac­tive to fu­ture em­ploy­ers. Do them only if there’s no dual de­gree in the fields you wish to study, or if you’re un­able to se­cure a spot in a dual-de­gree pro­gramme. In fact, some stu­dents pre­fer to do dou­ble ma­jors as they are far more in-depth than dual de­grees.

Ap­ply­ing: Many dual de­gree pro­grammes re­quire a sep­a­rate ap­pli­ca­tion to ex­plain why you are in­ter­ested in the pro­gramme and why you should be ac­cepted.

Be mind­ful of the time that this ex­tra work re­quires. Pre­pare your­self by high­light­ing your pas­sion for both fields through ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties and your course­work in school.

For lib­eral arts pro­grammes, dou­ble ma­jors will re­quire you pe­ti­tion­ing the univer­sity while you are al­ready at­tend­ing and demon­strat­ing that you have the aca­demic cre­den­tials and forte to han­dle the work­load.

Ex­cep­tions: In some uni­ver­si­ties, the nomen­cla­ture may be re­versed. Do your re­search to en­sure that the pro­gramme is the right one.

SANJEEV VERMA is an in­ter­na­tional ed­u­ca­tion coun­sel­lor

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