Because of the additional requirements, a dual degree generally takes more time and money to earn. However, scholarships and affordable online programs can make earning a dual degree more accessible. This guide explores the benefits of dual degrees, along with typical application and graduation requirements.
What Can I Do With a Dual-Degree Master's?
Earning a dual master's degree often helps individuals become leaders in their fields. Employers increasingly prefer candidates with diverse skill sets, so holding multiple degrees can help graduates stand out in the job market.
While individual master's programs help learners gain in-depth knowledge in a certain subject, students in dual-degree programs develop advanced skills in two areas. Learners can pair a general subject with a more specialized topic. For example, earning a master of business administration and a master of public administration may help learners achieve specific career goals. Alternatively, students can major in two different yet complementary subjects.
After earning a dual degree, graduates often become directors, managers, CEOs, and professors. Pursuing master's degrees in two topics can help learners explore multiple facets of a subject. This comprehensive knowledge can help graduates provide feedback to employees or students.
What is a Dual-Degree Program?
A dual-degree program leads to two degrees. Although a dual degree takes longer to complete than a traditional degree, learners often earn their dual degree faster than they would be able to complete two separate programs.
Unlike a double major, which provides learners with surface-level information about two subjects, a dual degree helps students gain in-depth information about two subjects. Dual degrees may require up to 150 credits. Full-time students can often earn a dual degree within three years. Some dual-degree master's programs require applicants to have completed prerequisite courses or an undergraduate degree in a relevant field.
Specific requirements for dual degrees vary by school, so students should contact the admissions department of each prospective institution before applying.
Accreditation for a Dual-Degree Master's Program
Before enrolling in a dual-degree master's program, students should research the accreditation status of the school and program. Accreditation indicates that the institution or program regularly undergoes assessments from a third-party organization and that it meets set standards of academic quality.
The U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation oversee the accreditation process in the United States. These two organizations approve third-party accrediting agencies, which may grant national or regional accreditation. Regional accreditation is generally considered the most prestigious form of accreditation. Each of the six regional accrediting agencies evaluate schools in a certain geographic area.
In addition to institutional accreditation, learners can look for programmatic accreditation. Students pursuing a dual master's degree should research accreditation agencies for both of their majors. For example, the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs awards accreditation to business programs.
|Can I get two master's degrees at the same time?||Dual-degree options allow students to work on two master's degrees simultaneously. Unlike learners pursuing a dual major, students graduate from dual-degree programs with two degrees.|
|How long does a dual master's degree take?||Learners typically earn a dual master's degree in 3-4 years. Generally, students complete dual-degree programs faster than they would be able to earn each degree separately.|
|What is better, a double major or a dual degree?||Each option has pros and cons, and the best choice depends on each student's circumstances. Learners can typically complete a double major faster, but they do not explore the subjects as deeply as they would during a dual-degree program.|
|Do double majors get paid more?||Many employers value candidates with diverse skill sets. According to a 2017 study based on Census Bureau data, graduates with double majors earn 9.5% more than professionals with single majors.|
What Are the Requirements for a Dual-Degree Master's?
Each institution sets specific requirements for dual master's degrees. However, most schools require similar application materials. Prospective students must generally submit an online application, official college transcripts, and recommendation letters. Some programs may also require GRE scores.
Certain majors require applicants to have completed prerequisite courses. However, programs may waive this requirement for students with a relevant undergraduate major. Competitive programs' application process may also involve an interview or portfolio review.
Accepted students must typically complete 36-54 credits, which usually takes 2-3 years. Most master's programs also require a capstone or thesis project, so dual-degree students may need to complete two culminating projects or papers.
Courses in a Dual-Degree Master's Program
Coursework in a dual-degree graduate program helps students gain analytical skills and knowledge of field-specific theories. Learners demonstrate skills and apply concepts during a thesis or capstone project, which is typically due during their final semester. Some programs allow students to customize their program by choosing from a list of course options.
Prospective students should read each program's course descriptions before enrolling. Program content can vary significantly by school, and certain programs are better suited to specific career goals. Although course offerings vary by school, the types of courses below are common to most dual master's programs.
Almost every dual master's degree requires a foundation course. This class typically reviews information covered in prerequisite courses and offers an overview of other topics the major covers. Some schools may allow students to complete a test to waive this requirement. Foundation courses can also help students get an idea of what the major entails, which can help them make informed decisions on whether to continue their studies. Most foundation classes follow a lecture-based format and require a final exam.
Master's programs commonly feature a writing class. However, the specific class content varies by major. For example, public relations or marketing students may learn how to write strategic campaign plans. Learners majoring in a science field may practice writing academic white papers. Students in a master's-level writing course often submit their papers to scholarly journals or present them at industry conferences.
Master's students often complete a research course to prepare to contribute new findings to their field. Students review best research practices and learn how to report findings. They then develop and test an original theory. Some research courses require group projects, and learners may submit their findings to scholarly journals or present at conferences.
In this class, students review major-specific theories. For example, public relations students may learn about communication theories. This course also examines the research that supports each theory. Learners identify ways to apply theory to professional practice, and they typically participate in classroom discussions and complete essay-based exams. Students may also explore a theory they wish to test during a research course.
Capstone or Thesis
Almost every dual master's program requires two capstone projects or theses, one for each major. A capstone project may involve community service, research, or work for a real-world client. A thesis, on the other hand, is typically a lengthy essay. A master's thesis is typically about 100 pages and focuses on proving a theory.
Certifications and Licensure for Master's Students
Some professions require licensure or certification. Graduates can also obtain voluntary credentials to enhance their resume. See below for three licenses and certifications that graduates of dual-degree programs often pursue. However, available licenses and certifications vary greatly by field.
ASHA offers this niche certification exclusively for speech pathologists. Applicants must submit Praxis exam scores, graduate transcripts, and a speech-language pathology clinical fellowship report.
This certification from the Public Relations Society of America demonstrates professional competence. Candidates must pass an exam, and the organization provides study materials to help individuals succeed.
The National Registry of Environmental Professionals administers this certification for environmental scientists. Candidates need at least three years of experience in the field and must pass an exam. Individuals can purchase an exam study guide.
Professional Organizations for Master's Students
To succeed in their fields, professionals must commit to lifelong learning. Joining professional organizations allows students and graduates to connect with peers, learn new information through webinars, and gain access to exclusive industry publications. See below for professional organizations for common industries.
- Public Relations Society of America
PRSA connects professionals who work in the communication, public relations, advertising, and marketing fields. This organization hosts annual conferences and webinars, and members receive access to a weekly newsletter and a job board. PRSA also maintains regional chapters throughout the country. These chapters often invite local speakers to discuss timely topics.More Information
- Business Professionals of America
BPA members include more than 45,000 individuals in 25 states. The organization maintains 1,800 local chapters. Membership is open to students and professionals, but BPA focuses on helping future business leaders succeed in the field. Members can attend training and mentoring events.More Information
- American Nurses Association
This organization unites nurses from across the country for conferences and continuing education opportunities. Members can access professional tools, including a drug name error finder tool and a global disease alert map. ANA also offers discounts on travel expenses and limited liability insurance.More Information
- The National Association of Independent Artists
Individuals working in creative fields can join this organization. The NAIA provides a forum to help artists connect. The organization also provides resources for art shows, including a publication that outlines hidden costs and best practices for success.More Information
Scholarships for Master's Students
Earning a dual master's degree can be costly. Tuition for dual degrees is often double that of a single degree. However, students can apply for federal financial aid by completing the FAFSA. To minimize student debt, learners can also apply for scholarships. The following scholarship opportunities are available to master's students.
- Collegedunia Student Essay Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Collegedunia offers this scholarship to international graduate and undergraduate students studying in America. Applicants must submit a short essay about why they need the scholarship, why they wish to study in the U.S., and how the funds will benefit them. Students must also submit an online application.
Amount: $1,000More Information
- Cornaro Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Members of the honors organization Kappa Gamma Pi can apply. Kappa Gamma Pi provides these funds to a graduate student whose life choices reflect the organization's values of faith and service. Applicants must show proof of volunteer work, leadership experience, and specific career goals.
Amount: $5,000More Information
- Nitro Scholarship
Who Can Apply: While this scholarship does not cover graduate school expenses, graduate students with undergraduate student loan debt can apply. Nitro reserves this need-based scholarship for learners who require student loans to pay for college. The deadline falls on December 31 each year.
Amount: $2,000More Information
- Optimal Graduate Scholarhip
Who Can Apply: Applicants must answer two open-ended essay questions. A panel of judges selects the winner based on the quality and content of the writing. This need-based scholarship supports students who are pursuing a graduate certificate, diploma, or degree. Applicants must be legal U.S. residents.
Amount: $5,000More Information
- The Domnick Cunningham & Whalen Water Safety Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Undergraduate and graduate students can apply for this award. Applicants must write an essay about how to increase the safety of water-related activities. Candidates need a minimum 3.0 GPA and must be in good standing at their current university. Applicants must submit official transcripts and a resume.
Amount: $1,000More Information