Dual Degree Vs Dual Major: What's the Difference?

Jun 14, 2019

There are several key differences between a dual degree and a dual major. Explore these two types of educational choices by looking at some advantages and disadvantages.

If you are looking to complement your area of study, you can decide between earning a dual degree or a dual major. This article compares the two options and provides examples of many types of dual degree programs as well as dual majors that are available.

Comparing a Dual Degree and Dual Major

Despite the similar-sounding name, a dual degree and a dual major are two different things. To begin, a dual degree is, in fact, two separate degrees that you earn at the same time. Usually, these two degrees will be in different, or sometimes related, fields of study. You will need to take courses that fulfill the individual requirements for both degrees, and typically meet with directors from each program to keep on track. It is possible that some of these requirements will overlap, or some programs may coordinate their dual degree programs. On the other hand, a dual major, or double major, is a single degree with each major usually, but not always, housed within the same university department. A dual major is not the same as majoring in one field and getting a minor in another. You will have to satisfy all the requirements for both majors, but you still get a single degree.

There are several advantages and disadvantages that come along with dual degrees and dual majors. Dual degree programs usually function at an accelerated pace, which means you could be doing a lot of coursework in an approximate 4-5 year time frame, depending on the two kinds of degrees you will be earning. Some programs could take longer. The double major will require coursework in both majors, but shouldn't take as long as a dual degree. You will need a good plan, though, to be able to finish in the typical four-year time frame. The advantage of a dual degree or major is that it will prepare you more fully for the job market, as you will be more specialized. The main reason to choose a dual degree over a dual major is if you want to specialize in slightly different fields and earn two separate degrees.

Dual Degree Options

Dual Degree Programs in Science And…

As one science field often builds off of or is highly-related to another, there are lots of options for dual degree programs in science. Some programs will let you earn a bachelor's in geological science and a master's in marine geology at the same time. Other programs will put you on the pathway to earning an engineering degree along with a bachelor's degree in a social science field.

Dual Degree Programs in Business And…

Another popular dual degree program lets you earn an MBA along with another type of degree. Some programs will allow you to earn a degree in law, nursing, engineering, or journalism while also earning your MBA.

Dual Degree Programs in Education And…

Dual degrees in education could allow you to specialize in one type of educational field. In these types of programs, you would earn a degree in biology as well a degree in science education, which would then allow you to become a science teacher. You could also pair an education degree with an English degree or a math degree.

Dual Major Options

Dual Majors in Science And…

Many science departments will offer dual majors. One option could be majoring in both engineering and physics. For this dual major, you would take various engineering courses as well as physics courses, fulfilling all the requirements for each major. Other dual major possibilities include electrical engineering and computer science, bioengineering and material science, or mechanical engineering and nuclear engineering.

Dual Majors in Liberal Arts And…

Dual majors in liberal arts are very popular. Along with an English major, you could add something like creative writing and communications. You would then take general literature courses, creative writing workshops, and communication classes. You could also dual major in history and English or a foreign language.

Dual Majors in Business And…

Business departments sometimes allow for dual majors. Choices could include a dual major in accounting and information technology or economics and finance. In the end, you would attain a degree with a possible title of bachelor's degree in accounting and business administration or something similar.

Overall, a dual degree will earn you two distinct degrees while a dual major will be one degree with two different majors. Each is valuable and can help you study multiple subjects at the same time.

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