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What is a Dual Degree Program? Top 36 Schools with the Options

Have you heard of a dual degree? You’ve probably heard of a double major. In a dual degree program, you’ll simultaneously study two academic disciplines and obtain two different degrees.

Below, we define a dual degree and provide numerous examples of the various dual degree programs that are offered. We also discuss the benefits and drawbacks of earning a dual degree and offer advice to help you decide if it’s the best option for you.

What is a Dual Degree Program

What is a Dual Degree Program?

When you simultaneously study two disciplines that are typically extremely distinct from one another, you are said to be pursuing a dual degree, also known as a double degree. For instance, if you completed a dual degree program in psychology and business, you would receive two certificates upon graduation: a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in psychology and a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA).

Dual degrees commonly award two distinct degrees, such as a BA/BS combo, BS/BFA, BS/BBA, etc. (Some dual degree programs grant you a bachelor’s degree at the undergraduate level and a graduate degree; we’ll discuss these kinds of programs in more detail below.)

A dual degree program’s two subjects of study are typically housed in two different university schools. Because of this, students who desire to pursue a dual degree often have to apply to and be accepted by both institutions separately. Depending on the university, there are several deadlines for applying for admission.

More credits are needed for dual degrees than for single degrees. Whether your university uses a semester or quarter system will affect how many credits you ultimately need. To graduate, though, you’ll typically need between 140 and 225 credits.

Finally, you’ll almost certainly need to spend more time in college, often five to six years, because you’re pursuing two degrees at once and need more credits than you would for a single degree. Because you’ll need to pay for additional courses/credits, books, housing, etc., it also implies that you’ll have to spend more money on your college education.

Also Read: 13 Best Free Online Classes For Fun

What Distinguishes a Dual Degree from a Double Major?

You might be wondering how a dual degree and a double major are different. After all, both academic alternatives allow you to simultaneously pursue two interests. Although that is the case, the two approaches are actually very distinct from one another.

In a dual degree program, you pursue two degrees in two different (usually unrelated) fields. These degrees are typically of distinct sorts, such as a BA and a BS. With a double major, however, you study two fields that are closely related in order to obtain a single degree. Additionally, you will only be awarded one form of degree, such as a BA, BS, BFA, etc.

In essence, a dual degree is obtained by studying two areas in two different degree programs, as opposed to a double major, which involves studying two fields in one degree program. The most significant distinction between a dual degree and a double major is this, while there are numerous additional features that set the two options apart.

For instance, when a student double majors, both of their majors are frequently located at the same university or institution and lead to the same kind of degree, such as a BS or BFA.

Furthermore, a double major rarely necessitates additional coursework (at least not as much as a dual degree program!) and often takes four years to finish.

Is a Dual Degree the Best Option for you? 4 Important Factors to Think About

Is a dual degree, in the end, the best choice for you? Here are four important issues to consider while deciding whether or not to pursue a dual degree.

1. Do You Have Equal Interest in Two (Different) Academic Fields?

A dual degree may not be the ideal option for you if your love for the two disciplines you plan to study is not equal. Keep in mind that since you are gaining degrees in each of your chosen professions, you are studying them equally with a dual degree.

Consider making the other field you want to study a secondary subject of study if you are more interested in one than the other. If you’re an undergraduate, you could achieve this by declaring it a minor rather than a major, and if you’re a (prospective) graduate student, you could achieve this by enrolling in or auditing some of its classes.

2. Would you be okay with continuing your education?

In order to complete a dual degree program, you will normally need to attend college or graduate school for at least an additional year or two, depending on the program and degree types you choose. Therefore, it’s crucial that you make a decision about whether you’d prefer to use this time to complete more coursework or to venture beyond the classroom and engage in other activities like working or traveling.

Keep in mind that even if you choose to postpone enrolling in a graduate dual degree program for the time being, you can always do so later on.

3. Will Money Be A Problem?

Even while it technically saves you money in the long run, especially if you’re receiving a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree or two graduate degrees, getting a dual degree may not be a good option if money is a concern for you.

4. Do You Have a Clearly Defined Future Plan?

For those who have a clear idea of their future career and occupational goals, dual degree programs are good possibilities. For instance, a dual degree program that awards you a JD and an MA in Chinese Studies would be the ideal combination and precisely meet your career goals if you wanted to become a lawyer with a focus on Chinese law.

On the other hand, it might not be worthwhile dedicating several years and a significant amount of money to such a school if you’re unsure of what you want to accomplish with a dual degree or what sort of employment you want to have after graduation.

It’s crucial to remember that earning a dual degree does not guarantee a higher pay, so you must be prepared to assess these risks before opting to enroll in a dual degree program.

Also Read: Top 25 Affordable Online Colleges in Florida

What is a Dual Degree Program

What Sorts of Programs Offer a Dual Degree?

It might be challenging to ascertain how many different sorts of dual degree programs there are because there is such a wide range of majors and fields you can combine for a dual degree.

Examining them in terms of the types of degrees they grant is the simplest approach to group them. As a result, we can identify the following three categories of dual degree programs:

  • Programs that award two bachelor’s degrees
  • Programs offering both bachelor’s and master’s degrees
  • Double graduate/professional degree programs

Below, we examine each of these points in greater depth.

1. Courses Offering Two Bachelor’s Degrees

There are numerous universities in the US that offer dual degree programs that grant two bachelor’s degrees.

You could obtain any combination of bachelor’s degrees through this program. The following are some of the most popular bachelor’s degrees awarded in dual degree programs for undergraduates:

  • Bachelor of Arts (BA)
  • Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS)
  • Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA)
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA)
  • Bachelor of Music (BM)
  • Bachelor of Science (BS)

As previously said, the two bachelor’s degrees you select to earn in your dual degree program will usually be offered by different universities, therefore in order to enroll in the program, you will typically need to apply to and be accepted by both universities.

Before deciding to pursue a dual degree, be sure your university provides it since not all of them do. Additionally, dual degree possibilities will differ from university to university, so confirm that the precise combination of degrees you seek is offered at your school.

Depending on the university, you may apply for a dual degree program at different times. Others won’t let you apply until you’ve been in college for at least a year or two. Some colleges let you apply for a dual degree before you even enroll in classes.

Examples of well-known colleges that offer dual degree programs that award two bachelor’s degrees are shown in the following graph:

University Bachelor’s Degree Combinations Offered Featur
Boston University BA/BS, BA/BFA, BA/BM, BS/BFA, BS/BM Credit specifications change. only open to some major combos.
Brown University BA/BS Minimum 38 credits and 10 semesters (five years).
Columbia University BA/BS in Engineering Typically, students complete the program in a 3-2 sequence, spending three years in a liberal arts program and two years in Columbia Engineering (with applications being accepted in the junior year).
Cornell University BA/BS or BFA/BS The normal length of the program is five years, with 30 different credits needed for each major. only open to some major combos.
Northwestern University BA/BS Engineering, BA/BM Music Both degrees accept foundational coursework. If not, you must finish all the extra requirements for both degrees.
New York University Available in multiple combinations pending university approval. Students can create their own degree combinations.
Stanford University BA/BS Minimum 225 credits.
University of Alabama BA/BS Minimum 30 additional credit hours.
University of Denver BA/BS, BA/BFA, BS/BFA, BA/BM, BS/BM, BFA/BM, etc. Minimum 228 quarter hours. Many combinations of bachelor’s degrees possible.
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Various combinations of LAS (Liberal Arts Studies) degree programs with other degrees available Must complete an additional 30 hours above the chosen degree with the highest number of required hours.
University of Michigan BA/BS, BA/BFA, BA/BMA*, BA/BTA**, etc. Must complete a minimum of 150 credit hours. May choose an established program or create own.
University of Notre Dame BA/BS Five-year program.

*BMA – Bachelor of Musical Arts
*BTA – Bachelor of Theatre Arts

2. Institutions Offering Both Bachelor’s and Masters Degree Programs

You receive a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from the second kind of dual degree program, typically within five to six years.

In contrast to the program previously mentioned, you can complete graduate-level study while enrolled in undergraduate courses. You will graduate with a master’s degree as well as a bachelor’s degree. You may receive your undergraduate degree first and your graduate degree a year or so later (in some dual degree programs).

These popular dual bachelor’s/master’s programs are well-liked because they allow you to obtain a graduate-level education while saving time and money. You don’t have to complete your bachelor’s degree before applying for a master’s; you can pursue both degrees simultaneously. This typically means that some classes may apply to both degrees.

The following are some of the most typical types of dual degree programs that combine bachelor’s and master’s degrees:

  • Master of Arts (MA)
  • Master of Science (MS)
  • Master of Public Policy (MPP)
  • Master of Public Administration (MPA)
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA)
  • Bachelor of Arts (BA)
  • Bachelor of Science (BS)
  • Master of Engineering (ME)

Examples of well-liked bachelor’s/master’s dual degree programs are provided in the chart below:

University Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree Combos Offered Notes
American University Varies To apply, you must have a 3.0 GPA and at least 75 credits achieved.
Boston University BA/MA, BA/MS 144-160 credits required (varies depending on program).
The George Washington University Varies provides both dual programs (where you receive your degrees at different times) and joint programs (where you earn both degrees at the same time).
Harvard University Liberal arts degrees (BA, BS, MA, MS, etc.) Must have 96 credits toward a BA with a 3.5 GPA or higher. People who already have bachelor’s degrees are ineligible.
Johns Hopkins University BS/MS in Engineering Must be current undergraduates who have not completed eight full-time semesters at JHU. All students enrolled are awarded a half-tuition Dean’s Master’s Fellowship.
New York University BA/MPA, BA/MUP*, BS/MUP Five-year program. Must be majoring in public administration or urban planning.
Northwestern University Varies Restricted to undergraduates and “limited to certain degree programs within the University.” Must submit a combined degree application to admitting program.
Ohio State University Varies Complete 90 undergraduate credit hours with a 3.5 GPA.
Rochester Institute of Technology BS/MS, BS/ME, MBA Students may propose own dual degree program. Completion requirements must be “identical to the approved degree programs — no alterations are permitted.”
University of Chicago BA/MA, BA/MAT**, BA/MPP, BA/MS, BS/MS Four- and five- year programs available. Credit requirements vary depending on program.
University of Georgia Varies. Combinations include BS/MS, Engineering/MBA, BBA/MAcc* Limited to specific fields of study. Requirements vary by school.
University of Southern California BA/MS, BA/MAcc, BS/MS, BA/MA, BS/BA, etc. MBA and medical practitioner master’s not available. Must complete both degree programs in 12 semesters (six years).

*MUP – Master of Urban Planning
*MAT – Master of Arts in Teaching
*MAcc – Master of Accountancy

3. Programs that Offer Two Graduate/Professional Degrees

A program that only awards graduate degrees is the third and final form of dual degree program. A master’s degree plus a professional or doctorate degree, or two different master’s degrees, can be combined to create these.

For instance, many law schools offer dual degree programs so that students can obtain their Juris Doctor (JD) as well as a master’s or doctoral degree (often in a topic in which they wish to practice law).

Some colleges permit students to design their own graduate-level dual degree programs, while others offer formal dual degree graduate programs that specify which disciplines or fields you can receive your two graduate degrees in.

A few typical graduate and professional degrees that can be merged in dual degree programs are listed below:

  • Master of Business Administration (MBA)
  • Master of Science in Engineering (MSE)
  • Master of Social Work (MSW)
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
  • Juris Doctor (JD)
  • Doctor of Medicine (MD)
  • Master of Arts (MA)
  • Master of Science (MS)
  • Master of Public Policy (MPP)
  • Master of Public Health (MPH)

The following degree combinations are some of the most popular: MA/PhD, MS/PhD, MA/JD, MBA/JD, JD/PhD, and MPH/MD. Popular graduate-level dual degree programs are illustrated below:

University Graduate Degree Combos Offered Notes
Duke University Master’s/Master’s, MBA/Master’s, Master’s/JD, PhD/JD, Master’s/PhD, Master’s/MD, PhD/MD Admission to both programs is required. Program-specific hours needed differ.
Georgetown University Master’s/Master’s, MBA/Master’s, Master’s/JD, PhD/JD, Master’s/PhD, Master’s/MD, PhD/MD Limited to specific fields of study.
Rutgers University Several combinations with JD, including MD, MA, MBA, MPH, PhD, MSW, etc. “A law student may create a dual-degree with another graduate degree offered by Rutgers or another institution.”
Stanford University JD/MBA, MA/MBA, MPP/MBA, MS/MBA, MD/MBA Credit requirements vary depending on program.
Suffolk University MBA/MS, MS/MS, MBA/JD, LLM*/JD, MPA/JD, MS/JD Limited to specific fields of study. Credit requirements and length of program vary.
University of Arizona MAcc/MBA, MS/MS, MS/MBA, MS/JD, MA/JD, PhD/PhD, PhD/MD, PhD/JD, etc. Limited to specific fields of study. “Students cannot invent their own dual degrees.”
University of California at Los Angeles MA/JD, MA/MPH***, MBA/JD, MBA/MD, MBA/MA, MA/MSW, etc. Must apply to and be accepted by both programs
University of Cincinnati MBA/MS, MBA/MA, MBA/MSN**, JD/MA, JD/MBA, JD/PhD, etc. “The applicant must be accepted by both programs.”
University of Colorado Boulder MA/MBA, MS/MBA, MS/ME, MA/MA, MBA/JD, JD/PhD, JD/MD, MS/JD, JD/MPA, etc. Limited to specific fields of study. Credit requirements vary depending on program.
University of Illinois Varies; includes combos with MA, MS, MArch, MBA, MPH, MSW, JD, PhD, MD, etc. “A student who wishes to enter a joint degree program must be admitted separately to each program as a joint degree candidate.”
University of Michigan Varies; includes combos with MA, MS, MPH, MPP, MUP, MBA, JD, PhD, MD, etc. Students can come up with their own dual degree plan. The number of credits needed varies per degree.
University of Texas at Austin Master’s and professional degrees only; includes combos with MA, MS, MBA, MSE, JD, etc. Must be accepted by both programs. Limited to specific fields of study.


Benefits and Drawbacks of Dual Degree Programs

After describing the different kinds of dual degree programs, let’s examine the main benefits and drawbacks of enrolling in one.

Benefits of Pursuing a Dual Degree:

  1. Your knowledge and skill sets will expand. A dual degree program’s opportunity to learn more and gain expertise in multiple subject areas may be its strongest advantage. Since you’ll be able to pursue both of your interests, this may make you feel more content.
  2. More options will be available to you in terms of potential career pathways. You will learn a lot about and experience a lot of both subjects if you study them equally. As a result, you’ll have more relevant work possibilities to choose from once you graduate.
  3. The cost of a graduate degree will be cheaper. You will really save money if you enroll in a dual degree program that combines a bachelor’s and master’s degree or a graduate and undergraduate degree. This is due to the fact that the majority of dual degree programs permit (and often encourage) taking coursework that count toward both of your degrees.

Drawbacks of Earning a Dual Degree:

  1. You continue to attend school nonstop for longer periods of time. This aspect alone may be a deal-breaker for some folks. Regardless of the types of degrees you’re seeking, a dual degree program will make you spend more time in class without giving you the ability to take a break and gain some work experience.
  2. At once, you’re spending more money. Even though earning a dual degree would probably result in long-term financial savings, you will still need to pay a significant amount of money up front for items like courses, tuition, and accommodation.
  3. It might not raise your chances of success financially. While having two degrees can increase your employment options, it doesn’t definitely mean you’ll make more money than if you only had one degree. This, however, greatly depends on the subjects you’re studying and the degrees you’re earning (for instance, earning two BAs versus earning a JD and a PhD!).

Also Read: 15 Best Elementary Schools in Toronto

What is a Dual Degree Program

Frequently Asked Questions

What distinguishes a degree from a dual degree?

You can obtain one bachelor's degree and two specializations by choosing a double major. A dual degree, on the other hand, requires obtaining two distinct degrees (two bachelor's degrees, a bachelor's and a master's, etc.) in two distinct subjects or streams.

What benefits do multiple degrees offer?

A dual degree boosts your well-rounded skillset, which can be used in a wide range of different businesses and sectors. It also helps you grow your multidisciplinary field of knowledge.

Can you work on many degrees at once?

You can earn as many degrees as you desire, to put it simply. so long as you have the resources—both time and money—to finish them.


Academic programs known as dual degree programs award two degrees simultaneously. A bachelor’s degree plus a master’s degree, two graduate or professional degrees, or two bachelor’s degrees can all be combined.

You’ll need to spend more time in school—typically an additional one to two years for an undergraduate dual degree program—because you’ll be studying two (different) areas and earning two separate degrees.

Dual degrees come with benefits and drawbacks. On the one hand, a dual degree gives you the opportunity to learn more about two subjects you are equally passionate about, save money on graduate school, and widen your prospects for employment.

This means that you will have to attend school for a longer period of time without a break and pay more up front for your education. Additionally, having two degrees won’t necessarily boost your earning potential.

In the end, four key variables will determine whether a dual degree is the appropriate choice for you:

  1. If you have a similar level of interest in two (different) academic subjects
  2. Whether you’re cool with putting off graduating from school till later
  3. Whether dealing with money will be difficult for you
  4. Whether you have a defined future plan

You should now have a much clearer understanding of what a dual degree is and how it can help you after reading this post.



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