Dual degrees, otherwise known as combined, conjoint, or joint degree programs, are more common in other countries than in America. However, that does not mean that they do not exist in the United State. In the past recent years, many students have been showing an interest and demand for joint degree programs. The allure of an earlier graduation and getting two degrees, too strong to ignore for aspiring academics.
However, what is a dual degree?
A dual degree is formed from the collaboration of two academic institutes who have agreed on an articulation program which a student would abide with in order to move from one school to another. Typically, the two degrees can either belong to the same field or be from two completely different areas; all that matters is that they are complimentary to one another. A dual degree, after all, is for those who desire an edge in this competitive professional world.
Note: It is completely different from double majoring because a dual degree has the student alternate between two institutions who are specialized in only one field of the two he or she are pursuing.
So is a dual degree for you?
You get to get two degrees. In today’s competitive job market, two degrees can give you a solid advantage over others. The more complimentary they are to your desired career field, the better.
It saves you time. As a joint degree student, myself, I can personally speak for biology majors as an example. Typically, pursuing a general biology major means you will be aiming to go straight into graduate or medical school to further your career and specialize in something. Graduating as just a general major with no specialization in anything, automatically demands a few more extra years of schooling in order to seem more suitable and marketable in the professional field you are aiming for. Those who want to do lab or maybe even work in forensics, for example, will have to take a few more classes to be better job candidates. A dual degree gives you specialization.
You jump into your field faster. With a dual degree, your general education and prerequisite classes are either finished in your first year and-a-half of your college career, enabling you a quicker start into more advanced studies that dabble in actual professional-related work.
It gives you flexibility, skill-set wise. By pursuing a dual degree, you can have an alternate set of skill sets to fall back on just in case the end goal isn’t as tangible as you would hope it to be. With a joint degree, you can eventually just choose one to focus in if the other drifts from your spectrum of interests.
The workload is unforgiving. If you want to pursue a dual degree, you have to be very disciplined or, at the very least, be willing to become self-disciplined. A dual degree means more classes in a shorter amount of time, it can get stressful, you can slack – it takes a special kind of mindset to be able to keep up with everything.
There is no ‘leisure’ time, it virtually does not exist for dual degree pursuers. With the huge workload, you still need to go out there and volunteer, intern, and maybe even try and get some kind of part-time job. Your social life? It will still be there, it’s not impossible to juggle into everything else, but you have to understand that you will not be as free as others, and nor will you have time to hang out with everyone that much anymore. You will not have a typical college experience.
You will not have time to pursue other studies. Again, the workload is huge, and the time you need to dedicate to it in order to keep up and pass, is a lot. Besides that, you will not have space to explore other fields outside of your program. Either classes will conflict, you might be even taking too much classes, or you simply just will not have the time to do them.
Competition. You may be fortunate, and won’t have any – but for the most part, there will also be other people out there seeking to reap the same benefits as you out of dual degree programs. So be prepared to fight for your seat and be able to maintain top notch grades.
Remember: the road is not easy, but it will all be worth it.