Dual Degree Vs Double Major

Find out what makes a dual degree different from a double major. Learn how each is handled differently, when one might be preferable, and which is best for your situation by reading on.

What's the Difference Between a Dual Degree and a Double Major?

For the most ambitious students, one area of study may not be enough, and they may want to consider pursuing a dual degree or double major. While they may sound similar, dual degrees and double majors are fairly distinct in what you may be required to take. The most notable difference is the number of diplomas awarded upon completion; a student pursuing a dual degree p/rogram will receive two diplomas, one in each discipline, while a student pursuing a double major will receive a single diploma, usually listing both a primary and secondary major.

Dual degree program requirements tend to be stricter as well, with detailed rules regarding classes counting towards both degrees, whereas double majors tend to allow for more overlap. For example, a dual degree program may require writing courses be taken in each program, while a double major program may only require a basic amount of writing courses needed by the primary degree.

Dual Degree Double Major
Typical Credit Hours Needed 150+ 120+
Major Restrictions Similar majors prohibited Variable; similar majors commonly prohibited
Diplomas Awarded 2 separate diplomas 1 diploma for both majors
General Education Courses Count for both Count for both
Program Specific Graduation Requirements Must be met for each major Must be met for primary major only

What to Expect When Earning a Dual Degree

Students working towards a dual degree are essentially working towards two separate degrees at the same time. To ensure that equal time has been dedicated towards both majors, dual degree students must usually take at least an extra 30 credit hours of classwork for their second degree.

General education credits, as well as credits that may overlap between majors, are allowed to count towards both, which allows for the programs to take less time than simply earning two degrees back-to-back. However, students are typically prohibited from earning degrees in programs with significant overlap in course requirements, such as two different areas of chemistry.

Specific graduation requirements, such as writing intensive courses and foreign language courses, must be met for each degree individually. A student in two degree programs, one of which requires a foreign language and one which does not, will still need to meet foreign language proficiencies. Graduates of dual degree programs are awarded both degrees at the same time, so they will not be allowed to graduate from one program before completing the other.

What to Expect When Earning a Double Major

When approaching a double major, a student must designate a primary major and a secondary major; tuition rates are usually determined by the primary major, and thus a more expensive major will in that case become the primary. Students will only need to exceed the usual 120-128 credit hours if necessary to fulfill the requirements of the secondary major.

General education credits and credits that may overlap across both majors are allowed to count towards both programs. Whether students may double major in similar programs will vary from university to university and even within a particular university, as double majoring is typically left up to the discretion of the college.

Double major students are also sometimes restricted to only other programs that will result in the same degree type. For example, they could pursue two Bachelor of Arts or two Bachelor of Science degrees, but not a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science. Check with the advising department at your university to find out specifics.

Specific graduation requirements that may be needed, such as writing intensive courses and foreign language courses, are only required for the primary major. If a student's primary major does not require a foreign language, they may be allowed to graduate without one, even if the secondary major ordinarily would. Students will also only need to complete the writing intensive courses required for the primary major, rather than both as a dual degree student would. Should a student complete the requirements for their primary major without completing their secondary, they will not be allowed to graduate until that time, unless they formally drop the secondary major.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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