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What is a Dual Degree Program, and is it Right for You?

If you’re someone who is equally interested in two different fields of study, then a dual degree program may be right for you. Though a dual degree is often mistaken for a double major, the two are very different.

There are many advantages to earning a dual degree but there are a few considerations to be aware of, such as the upfront cost and the time commitment. 

Here we’ll take a look at what exactly a dual degree is, the pros and cons, and the types of degree combinations to help you make your decision.

What is a Dual Degree?

A dual degree is earned after completing two degree programs in sequence for an MBA or simultaneously in an undergraduate program. After completing both programs, two separate degrees are earned. There are many different combinations of dual degrees a student may seek, such as two bachelor’s degrees or a bachelor’s and master’s degree.

Students working toward a dual degree often spend a couple of extra years in college. The average time it takes to earn a dual degree may take up to five or six years. In addition to more time spent in school, more credits are required as well.

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While there are considerations to take into account, such as cost and time spent in school, once earned, those with dual degrees have many professional advantages.

How is a Dual Degree Different from a Double Major?

Are a dual degree and a double major the same? While there may be some similarities, it’s important not to confuse the two.

A double major typically has a more integrated approach and can be completed in four years. Students typically find that the workload is less than that of a dual degree because there are several courses which will count for both degrees. On the other hand, dual degrees require that the courses for two separate programs of study are taken, creating a greater workload and time commitment.

When completing a double major:

  • Typically doesn’t require extra coursework
  • Full-time students generally complete a double major in four years
  • Less costly than pursuing a dual degree

When earning a dual degree:

  • Two degrees are earned: one for each program
  • There is a heavy amount of coursework
  • Takes longer to complete, usually five to six years
  • Opens the door for a variety of careers

Earning Potential Compare/Contrast

Are dual master’s degrees worth it? Earning a dual master’s or bachelor’s degree is beneficial. A higher salary isn’t guaranteed with a double major, but the skills acquired through the degree programs are attractive to employers and can result in more job and advancement opportunities.

The Pros and Cons of a Dual Degree Program

It’s important to weigh the benefits and disadvantages when considering dual MBA and leadership programs. Will a dual degree benefit your future and career? Are the course load and expenses manageable with your other personal responsibilities?

Take these pros and cons into account when making your decision.

Advantages

  • A broad skill set will be developed and improve your professional flexibility, including analytical skills which are valuable in many fields
  • Can open the door to greater career and advancement opportunities
  • Long-term cost savings, especially for MBA dual degree programs
  • Two degrees can be used independently or together in a career
  • Earning two degrees in sequence rather than one after the other saves time and money
  • Great networking opportunities from alumni programs in addition to the students and staff at each school

Disadvantages

  • Requires a full-time commitment for up to five years
  • While money is saved in the long run, it’s costly upfront for tuition and other school-related expenses
  • Dual degrees don’t always result in higher salaries
  • Studying two programs simultaneously results in a heavier course workload
  • Admissions into dual degree programs is competitive, may require high test scores, academic achievements, and an impressive resume

Deciding if a Dual Degree is Right for You

Dual degrees should be pursued by students interested in more than one field. Earning a dual degree can grow and develop a wide range of skills, including universal analytical skills that are valuable in just about any profession.

If you’re someone who doesn’t like feeling restricted or stuck, then a dual degree can open many doors professionally.

The Big Question: Will You Earn More Money with a Dual Degree?

Having a dual degree doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll earn a higher salary. The type of degree, program of study, work experience, and networking can also play a factor in salary. For instance, some who completed dual master’s degree programs may start out at a higher salary than someone with dual bachelor’s degrees.

Although a dual degree doesn’t always affect salary, these degree-holders often have greater range of career possibilities, both when entering and advancing in the workforce. The variety of skills and knowledge that are gained through the program courses are an asset to employers.

Other Questions to Consider

A dual degree may not be for everyone. Before making the full-time commitment to a program, ask yourself how the dual degree will benefit you and if you can accommodate the demands.

Are You Equally Interested in Two (Different) Fields of Study?

Are you passionate about two different fields of study? A dual degree is geared toward individuals who are equally interested in two programs. If you realize you’re not as interested in one area as the other, then a dual degree may not be for you; it would be more cost-effective and time-saving to take that field as a minor.

Will Funding Be an Issue?

Earning two degrees does save money in the long run, but not in the short term. Tuition, books, and other school expenses add up quickly and are due upfront. Earning two degrees can be nearly double the course load of a single degree.

Are You OK With Staying in School Longer?

Completing a bachelor’s degree typically takes four years as a full-time student. Completing a dual degree, whether it be two bachelor’s or two graduate degrees, may extend this to five or six years. Can you dedicate yourself full time to classes, labs, and coursework for several years? At universities like Augsburg, most students enter the program with some college credits and take 16 credits per semester.

Do You Have a Clear Plan for Your Future?

It’s important to have a plan for what you want to do after you complete the degrees. Perhaps you have a specific career path you want to follow where you can use one or both degrees. Maybe you plan to start your own business where skills from both fields of study can be applied.

If you’re not sure of a career you’d like to pursue, you may want to reconsider a dual degree due to the time, cost, and commitment required.

What Kind of Dual Degree Programs are Available?

When choosing a dual degree program, students will need to decide which combination of majors and degree type will benefit them. When deciding which program is the right fit, students should consider their future goals and the career path they plan to pursue. Is a master’s degree beneficial in your field, or will a bachelor’s degree help you achieve your career goals?

Common Options

There are three joint degree programs that are common among both undergraduate and graduate students. A dual degree may include earning two bachelor’s degrees, a bachelor’s and a master’s, or two graduate degrees.

Let’s take a look at these options, including dual graduate degrees.

Two Bachelor’s Degrees

One of the most common dual degrees earned is two bachelor’s degrees. While many colleges offer this dual degree option, prospective students should confirm that this type of program is offered at their school of choice.

There are several combinations of bachelor’s degrees that can be earned through dual degree programs, such as Bachelor of Business Administration, Bachelor of Science, and Bachelor of Arts to name a few.

Bachelor’s and a Master’s Degree

Another dual degree that is often pursued is a bachelor’s and master’s degree. A bachelor’s and MBA dual degree typically takes about five or six years to complete. This dual degree structure can vary depending on the university. Generally, students take undergraduate classes while completing graduate-level coursework. Completing both degrees simultaneously takes less time and money than completing each separately.

Two Graduate or Professional Degrees

Is getting two master’s degrees at once possible? Dual master’s programs have grown in popularity with graduate students. Earning two master’s or a combination of a master’s and another professional degree is the third common dual degree option. A dual graduate or professional degree is typically earned within three to four years if taking a full-time course load.

The types of dual degree graduate programs that can be taken are often decided by the university, but some allow students to choose the fields from which they’d like to earn their dual degree. There are several program combinations a graduate student may opt to study, such as the Master of Science and Master of Business Administration dual degree.

Another example is the MBA/MPH degree. Students in top MBA/MPH dual degree programs will earn a Master of Business Administration degree as well as a Master of Public Health degree.

Options Available at Augsburg University

Augsburg University currently has two dual degree options. The first is a MBA/Master of Arts in Leadership program in which students can prepare for leadership roles within businesses and other organizations.

The second is a MBA/Master of Social Work dual degree. MBA/MSW dual degree programs have become more common thanks to the growing need for financial and business knowledge in social work.

Program Requirements

Admissions requirements for the dual master’s degree programs at Augsburg vary depending on which dual degree you plan to pursue. Both programs require a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university, transcripts, an updated résumé, completed essay questions, and two letters of recommendation.

Being admitted into one of the degree programs doesn’t guarantee admission into the second program. It is important to ensure excellent grades and academic achievements are called out during the admissions process.

Incoming students applying for the MBA/MSW dual degree can apply to both programs at the same time. For the MBA/MAL dual degree, students must apply first to one or the other as their home program. Once the home program is nearing completion, they can then apply for the second degree which, if admitted, they’ll begin after completing the home program.

Conclusion

A dual degree is not for everyone. Dual degrees have many benefits, and with these advantages come considerations such as cost, time, and purpose. The additional workload is highly demanding for some, but others thrive in those conditions, especially when they have a strong enough purpose driving them.

What are your career plans after completing your dual degree? Will the workload of getting two master’s degrees at the same time be too much? On the flip side, there is a great potential for networking and a wider variety of career opportunities for dual degree holders. These are the questions you should be thinking about to determine if a dual degree is right for you.

Regardless of your specific goals, Augsburg University has options that will benefit you.

Get in touch with Augsburg University’s admissions staff and check out the MBA blog to learn more.

Are you ready to advance your career with an MBA? Explore our MBA program.