Deciding Between a Double Major and a Dual Degree? You Should Read This

From left, Alexa Izquierdo and Dani Patel listen to music together as they do school work on their laptops inside Marshall Student Center at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Fla. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

When I was a newly minted high school grad, my friends and I spent the summer speculating on what our upcoming college experiences would be like.

Since it was all so new to me, I had to learn new lingo along the way, like what a FAFSA is to what CLEP means.

But the one thing that has eluded me to this day is the difference between a double major and a dual degree.

I did a little research to come up with the answer, and I’m happy to share my homework with you.

What’s a Double Major?

When you pursue a double major, it means you’ll graduate with only one degree but you’ll have two areas of specialization.

Some students decide to pursue a double major to boost their GPA or to increase their visibility in the job market.

For instance, you could earn a Bachelor of Arts degree with double majors in Sociology and Spanish to pursue jobs in international business.

Earning a Bachelor of Science degree with double majors in Marine Biology and Environmental Science could position you for a job in oceanic research.

What’s a Dual Degree?

A dual degree is pretty much what it sounds like — it means you’re pursuing two separate degrees at the same time. (Yikes!)

That also means a lot more classes and a whole lot more work. (Goodbye, social life.)

Students pursue double majors when they are equally passionate about two areas of study and don’t want to have to choose between them.

Others get dual degrees that complement each other professionally.

For example, a student may earn a Bachelor in Legal Studies and a Bachelor of Business Administration degree concurrently with the intent of becoming a corporate attorney.

Which is Better: Double Major vs. Dual Degree?

Each degree path has its own pros and cons.

Double majors give you a diversified skill set to take with you in the work world, but it doesn’t mean you’ll automatically earn a higher income than your single-major peers.

A dual degree programs allow you to complete two degrees in less time — and for less money — than if you pursued each degree concurrently.

On the other hand, it will severely curtail your ability to establish and maintain connections with your peers and classmates.

To help decide what’s best for you, consult with a college advisor who can make recommendations based on your academic record.

Lisa McGreevy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She has mad respect for anyone pursuing a double major or dual degree. One major was more than enough for her.