The pros and cons of studying a dual degree | Top Universities
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The pros and cons of studying a dual degree

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Maria Fernanda Rodriguez Duque

Updated Mar 31, 2024
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Students on a dual degree

Sponsored by the University of Antwerp

Studying a dual degree can give you knowledge and skills in two subject areas, for a broader education and better job prospects. 

For example, the double degree offered jointly by the University of Antwerp and Maastricht University gives you the chance to study in two different locations, graduating with two master’s degrees in just two years, while I studied a dual degree at the National University of Colombia.

Being able to study two subjects at university is exciting, but it does require commitment and self-discipline. There are pros and cons to studying a dual degree, and lots to consider before making the decision for yourself.  

Here’s what I’ve learned from studying a dual degree:  

Pros 

You’ll gain broader knowledge 

Studying a dual degree gives you the opportunity to go in-depth into two different subjects. At my university, it has given me a much broader knowledge as I cover twice the modules and I get to choose from a wider range of electives, so I can tailor my programme to the topics I want to learn.  

The Antwerp-Maastricht double degree means you benefit from the strengths of each institution. Anneleen, who studied this particular dual degree programme, said: “The educational systems in Maastricht and Antwerp are completely different. In Maastricht, they use the PBL (Problem-Based Learning) system and work in periods. Whereas in Antwerp, you attend classes to dive deep into economic policy, research methods and econometrics.”

Depending on the subjects you choose, your custom degree will create a more niche learning experience and foundation of knowledge for entering the job market.   

Enjoy double the opportunities 

As a dual degree student, I’ve had the opportunity to get involved in twice as many projects and initiatives at university, and to meet people from across the two different programmes.   

With experience and connections from two disciplines, dual degree students can benefit from more job opportunities, higher salaries and more specialised roles. My degree has made me a more versatile candidate who can adapt to the needs of a demanding and changing job market, through the different approaches that my two subjects offer.  

I’ve become more open-minded to take new directions when it comes to my professional choices. I can create an interesting career across a variety of roles that complement each other. 

Save on time and money 

Investing in two undergraduate degrees would take a lot longer than combining them into a dual degree. In Colombia, where I live, it takes between eight and 10 years to complete two undergraduate degrees one after the other. However, a dual degree can be much shorter, saving both time and money. 

In other areas of the world, the time commitment is even lower. In the UK, for example, you can study a dual degree in just four years and the Maastricht-Antwerp programme lasts just two years.

It’s highly rewarding 

Studying hard and making the time to master two different subjects is highly rewarding. That’s on top of the experience you gain learning from a broader set of professors and industry experts, engaging in a wider pool of projects and initiatives, and making friends across two disciplines.   

Overcoming the time management and prioritisation challenges that come with studying two subjects feels satisfying when you receive a strong score on an assignment or good feedback on your work.  

Plus, with a dual degree you can rest easy knowing that if you decide one route isn’t right for you, you can choose to build a career in the other.  

Cons 

It takes time management and prioritisation 

Studying a dual degree involves more work across double the subjects, so time management is very important. I had to prioritise and learn to work smarter so I could still enjoy free time with friends.   

I rely on using my calendar to schedule in bitesize chunks of study time to focus and work hard. I also use my calendar to keep track of deadlines for assessments, so I can prioritise efficiently. It’s easy to get distracted by other things when studying, so I downloaded an app that limits my internet and social media use while I’m revising.  

If the subjects you choose are closely linked, like history and political science, it can sometimes be confusing moving between similar subjects and assignments. I like to use different folders and notebooks for each subject, so I can physically move from one to the other.  

It’s not a solution when you don’t know what to study  

Choosing where to focus your attention is not an easy task when studying a dual degree. You study lots of modules across different subjects and will have overlapping assignments and exams to try and manage. To study a dual degree, you need to have a passion or keen interest in both subjects to have the motivation to do well in both. 

If you’re unsure what subject you want to study at university and want to keep your options open so you don’t have to make a choice, a dual degree might not be right for you. It will open up more opportunities, but it can overwhelm if you have doubts about your choices.  

If you don’t feel affinity for both degrees, a dual degree will go from being an opportunity to an exhausting experience. It’s important to take your time researching what you want to study, why you want to study it and whether a dual degree will benefit you and your career aspirations. My dual degree has opened me up to a huge range of job options and has allowed me to combine my two passions to prepare for a career I love. 

Should you study a double degree?

Dual degrees aren’t for everyone and there’s always the opportunity to study a master’s if you decide to change route or specialise in another area after your undergraduate programme.  

It’s a personal decision and one to make sure you take your time over. Talk to universities about their dual programmes, find out what is expected of students and listen to current students about their experiences to fully understand what it might be like for you.  

Follow your heart. It knows where to go.   

 

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