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What Are the Different Types of Combined Degree Programs?

Florence J. Tipton
Florence J. Tipton

There are several types of combined degree programs offered at some colleges and universities. Generally, students who enroll in these programs will receive two degrees in a shorter period of time. Also known as a dual-degree, combined degree programs may offer two separate courses of study for the same educational level. Some combined degree programs might allow students to obtain an undergraduate and graduate degree at the same time. Moreover, combined degree programs could also include taking classes at one or two academic institutions.

Several academic institutions have dual-degree programs for students who wish to pursue two undergraduate degrees. In this type of program, students may have an interest in two different subjects such as business and engineering. Combining two undergraduate academic programs allow students to receive simultaneous degrees in both programs. Rather than graduating from one degree program before enrolling in a second, students can enroll in both programs at once.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

Another option for students is to enroll in an undergraduate/graduate course of study and receive a degree for both educational levels. Undergraduate/graduate programs typically condense the enrollment period of each degree by applying courses to both programs. For instance, coursework for the undergraduate degree is applied to class requirements for the graduate degree. Upon completion of all coursework, the academic institution awards both an undergraduate degree and a graduate degree.

An additional type of combined degree program is taking courses at two separate academic institutions. This is similar to combined degree programs offered at one institution. The primary difference is that two, rather than one, academic institutions award degrees for different subjects.

Usually, combined degree programs are structured to take less time to complete than if degrees were pursued consecutively. Time commitments are usually reduced since most programs have overlapping courses for separate the degrees. Similar degree subjects — such as finance and accounting — may take the standard time to complete. Those with dissimilar subjects may take one year longer to complete than the average duration for completing one degree.

Other than saving time, students may have other reasons for enrolling in a dual-degree program. In most cases, students want to broaden their skill set for a career within a particular field. Having two degrees does not necessarily guarantee a job offer, but might demonstrate a higher level of competence.

Saving money is an additional reason some students decide to enroll in dual-degree programs. Not only could pursuing consecutive degrees take longer, the costs could also double. Instead, most institutions cost less since coursework for one degree is applied to the other degree.

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