Double Major vs. Dual Degree: Which Do I Go With?


You’re stuck between two different options regarding what you want to study? Well, if you’re up for the intellectual challenge, might we suggest an alternative that includes both options?  Many universities offer their students the possibility of studying in two (sometimes three- e.g., triple major) different fields simultaneously. Depending on your desired qualification at the end of your studies and the fields you want to study in, you can opt for a dual degree or a double major.

What Is a Dual Degree?

A dual degree is a term that refers to two different degrees, each for a specific field of study, that a student can obtain simultaneously. The possible combinations for the two degrees are two bachelor’s, two master’s, or even a blend of a bachelor’s and a master’s. This depends on the university you are attending and their available programs.


Although a dual degree is two diplomas in two different fields, students usually choose to combine degrees that overlap based on their career choices. Some examples of such dual degrees include a master’s in international affairs and a master’s in journalism or a master’s in public administration and a master’s in public health.

Lately, students seem to opt for a business degree or MBA (Master of Business Administration) paired with a degree in another field. Keep in mind, though: going for a dual degree means you have to enter exams and be accepted in both respective fields.


What Is a Double Major?

A double major is a term that refers to a single degree with majors in two different fields. A double major is specific to undergraduate studies. The two fields a student chooses for their double major should be under the same department or faculty in a university, and they must result in the same type of degree, I.e., a BS, BA, or a BFA (Bachelor of Science; Bachelor of Arts; Bachelor of Fine Arts). Some universities offer students the chance to study in three fields at the same time (triple major programs).


As with the dual degree, a student chooses the double major, taking into consideration their preferred career/education path. For example, someone interested in medical school or simply lab work might consider a double major in biology and chemistry. Or a major in English pairs well with a major in journalism/political science or business/economics. However, your choices are limited and depend on the programs that your university offers. With a double major, you most likely do not have to enter an exam; however, there is a time limit to announce your double major (usually by the end of the second year).


What Is the Difference Between a Dual Degree and a Double Major?

Essentially, pursuing either a dual degree or a double major grants students the opportunity to specialize in two separate fields. Nevertheless, there are significant differences between the two choices — the most obvious being the number of degrees you obtain at the end of your studies. Moreover, a dual degree requires more time, money, and effort compared to a double major.

Which One Should I Choose?

If you’ve come down this rabbit hole, chances are you have already decided on studying two different fields in college. Whether you should opt for a dual degree or a double major depends on a few factors. Each type of degree has specific requirements you need to meet to obtain it. And if you meet these requirements, consider which kind of degree better suits your needs and goals before diving into it.

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Dual degree

Pros Cons
  • You will have specialized knowledge in two different fields                           
  •  You will get two separate degrees when you graduate                         
  • It ensures better career prospects    
  • It requires more time for completing, money, and effort
  • You have to meet the requirements and be accepted in both departments           

Double Major

Pros Cons
  • You will have specialized knowledge in two different fields                    
  • It takes less time and money than a dual degree (almost the same as a single major degree)
  • It does not guarantee more career prospects in the future  
  • If not careful with scheduling classes it can last longer than 4 years      


Finally, if you want to study two separate fields at once you totally can—and the options are virtually endless. However, keep in mind this means extra work and time. If you are fine with that, consider your options, weigh your pros and cons, and then go for whatever makes you happy.

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