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Dual degrees versus double majors: what’s the difference?

Published March 21, 2024| minute read
Hadiya Iqbal

Senior Associate, JPMorgan Chase

    There's a lot to navigate when figuring out the path you want to take in college. One decision you may face — particularly if you want to pursue multiple interests — is whether you should pursue a dual degree program or a double major (or both).

    Although these two options may sound similar, they mean two very different things. With a double major, you'll pursue two college majors and earn one degree. With a dual degree program, you'll pursue two different degrees, like a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science, at the same time.

    Continue reading as we explore what dual degrees and double majors entail and the differences between the two.

    What's a dual degree?

    A dual degree program allows students to pursue two different academic degrees simultaneously. This may save students time and money compared to pursuing two degrees separately.

    Dual degree programs are available at many colleges and universities and may be an option for students with a strong interest in multiple disciplines. The number of credit hours you may be required to take in a dual degree program will depend on the program itself. Since you'll receive two separate diplomas when you complete a dual degree, you'll most likely be required to complete more credit hours than if you pursued a single degree.

    Another thing to consider is that not every college offers dual degree programs, so it's essential to check if the college or university you're considering or are already attending offers dual degree programs if that's something you're interested in pursuing. It's also important to check what types of dual degree programs a school provides, as not all schools have the same offerings.

    Also, keep in mind that dual degree programs may require a separate application process as they can be competitive.

    Types of dual degrees

    There are many types of dual degree programs offered by colleges and universities. In some, you'll graduate with two bachelor's degrees, in others, a bachelor's degree and a master's degree, and in others, two graduate degrees.

    It's important to note that most dual degree programs offered by colleges and universities are specific, and you often won't be able to just pick and choose degrees to pursue simultaneously. For instance, New York University allows students to pursue a Juris Doctor (JD) and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in tandem as one of their dual degree options. At St. John's University, students can pursue a Bachelor of Science (BS) in communication arts and a Master of Arts (MA) in sociology.

    Some types of dual degree programs that colleges and universities offer include:

    Two bachelor's degrees

    You can earn two bachelor's degrees in a bachelor's dual degree program. Below are the most common bachelor's degrees students pursue in tandem during an undergraduate dual degree program:

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

    A bachelor's and a master's degree

    This type of dual degree program offers students the opportunity to pursue a bachelor's and master's degree in succession, which usually takes around five to six years. Below are some of the common types of bachelor's and master's degrees that are offered in these kinds of dual degree programs. In the case of these dual degree programs, students will walk away with one bachelor's degree and one master's degree.

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

    Two graduate/professional degrees

    These dual degree programs offer students the opportunity to pursue two graduate degrees simultaneously. This could look like pursuing a master's degree and a doctoral degree. The length of these programs will depend on the school and program. Below are some of the graduate and professional degrees that may be offered in one of these dual degree programs (and remember, you'd graduate with two degrees):

    • Master of Arts (MA)
    • Master of Science (MS)
    • Master of Public Policy (MPP)
    • Master of Public Health (MPH)
    • 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)

    Pros and cons of a dual degree

    Pursuing a dual degree can come with several pros and cons. As you decide whether these programs may be right for you, it can be helpful to weigh the benefits of them along with the potential drawbacks.


    • Potentially quicker and less expensive: Dual degree programs may allow students to complete two degrees quicker than if they pursued them separately. For that reason, pursuing two degrees this way may be less expensive.
    • Broader knowledge and skill set: Dual degree programs allow students to gain expertise in two distinct areas, potentially making them more versatile and competitive in the job market.
    • Networking opportunities: Students in dual degree programs have the chance to connect with a broader range of peers, professors, and professionals in two fields of study.
    • Potentially increased career options: Graduates of a dual degree program may have more career options available to them, as they can pursue opportunities that connect to multiple fields of study.


    • Time and cost: Dual degree programs typically take longer to complete and may require additional tuition and expenses than pursuing a single degree, which can be a financial burden to some students.
    • Limited focus: Some students may find it difficult to fully immerse themselves in two fields of study simultaneously, potentially leading to a less in-depth understanding of each subject.
    • Graduation requirements: Meeting the requirements for two separate degree programs can be complex and may require careful planning to complete all necessary courses and requirements.

    What's a double major?

    You'll receive one college degree with a double major, but two majors will be listed on your diploma. A double major will require you to complete the required credit hours to graduate with a single bachelor's degree and any additional requirements to complete two majors. Your degree will be either a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Science (BS).

    Pros and cons of a double major

    Below, you'll find several pros and cons of pursuing a double major to consider as you weigh whether this path is right for you.


    • Diversified skill set: Double majoring allows students to gain expertise in two fields and may make them more versatile and competitive in the job market.
    • Depth of knowledge: Students can delve deeply into two areas of interest, gaining a more comprehensive understanding of two subjects.
    • Flexibility: Double majoring may allow students to pursue a wider range of career options and graduate programs after they complete school.


    • Time and workload: Double majoring typically requires a heavier course load and may take longer to complete, which can be challenging and stressful for some students.
    • Limited elective options: Double majoring may leave less room for elective courses or exploration of other interests.
    • Academic demands: Balancing the workload of two majors can be demanding and may lead to a less fulfilling college experience for some students.

    Final thoughts

    Although the two may get confused, a dual-degree program lets you earn two credentials, while a double major results in one degree with two areas of specialization. When deciding whether to pursue either (or both), think about what fits best with your academic and professional goals as you settle on a path.