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WHAT ARE DOUBLE DEGREES AND DOUBLE MAJORS?
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