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Double degrees and double majors: are they worth it?

11 September 2017
Make an informed choice about your study options

Double degree versus double major or combined degree - what do they actually mean and why choose them over a single major? Here's our advice to help you decide for yourself. 

When choosing a degree you're deciding what it is you are most interested in learning about. It's important to know that for any bachelor's degree at university you're required to complete a major, which is an area that you will specialise in. By studying a double major, essentially you're choosing to specialise in two areas rather than just one. 

What's the difference between a double degree and a combined degree?

A double degree requires you to complete two separate qualifications - one after the other. This means you need to complete the requirements of the first degree before commencing the second. A combined degree also means you will graduate with two degrees, but instead you complete them both concurrently in an integrated structure. 

A double degree and a combined degree are possible pathways to completing two specialisations. Ultimately your choice of pathway will be determined by the course you wish to pursue, what else you want to learn as part of your degree, and what your goals are.

It's worth noting that the changes to our undergraduate curriculum at Sydney allow you to complete a double major from across disciplines in our liberal degrees in Arts, Commerce, Science and combined variants. Historically you would have had to enrol in a double degree - one degree from each discipline - to complete two majors from different disciplines.

So is a double major for you?  Here's why we think it's a valuable choice.

students talking about career advice

Figure out what you want to do in your own time

Applying to university is a big decision and you want to make the right choice for you, but what if you're not exactly sure what you want to do? Or what if you have more than one interest? A degree that lets you pursue two majors keeps your options open. 

By choosing a liberal degree with the option of a second major versus the typical double degree, you're giving yourself the flexibility to wait until the first year of uni to decide what discpline you want your second major to be in - rather than at the time you lock in your course preferences. 

All of our liberal degrees give you the option to take a formalised second major or minor from a range of over 100 across any discipline, which will be recorded on your testamur when you graduate. A minor requires less units to complete and gives you a good understanding of a subject area, but less depth than a major. As part of our curriculum you can apply for a combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies with a liberal degree. This gives you time to explore options for a second major across any discipline and immerse yourself in broader uni life, whilst graduating with two degrees and two majors if you choose to. 

If you're having trouble deciding what you'd like to study, give yourself the flexibility to decide after you've started uni by choosing a degree with the option of a double major. 

student looking at screen

You don't have to choose between two interests

With so many options on offer, sound advice when choosing a course is to pursue your interests and passions. But what if you have more than one?

Combining your interests with a double degree, double major and/or combined degree, not only means you're likely to find your studies more enriching and rewarding, but will also give you a broader skillset and unique way of looking at the world. Do you have an interest in biology and art history? Or maybe you're passionate about health and enjoy design? By investing in a depth of knowledge, especially across disciplines, you broaden your opportunities and ability to question ideas and solve problems across a range of contexts. There may be a number of people who have a major in economics, but how many would also have completed a major in data science? Our cross-disciplinary liberal degrees and combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies gives you this sort of flexibility, with the option of taking a second major from a across nine disciplines. What combination will you create?

By studying a double degree or a degree with a combination of cross-disciplinary majors, you will gain an edge and access to unique possibilities.

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Your future: be (doubly) ready for anything

Choosing an education that opens you up to respond to an evolving landscape and prepares you for fluidity in your career is more important now than ever. From day one your university experience is up to you to create. Only you can choose to engage and immerse yourself in the opportunities available to you. If you choose a degree that exposes you to different disciplines and ways of thinking, you will be prepared for an equally dynamic future. Your path might change multiple times over your career, but with the broad skillset and academic agility of a double major, you will be better equipped to navigate the careers of the future

Get more out of your time at uni

Taken in combination with a three-year degree, the four-year combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies offers you an unparalleled range of choice, with the opportunity to choose a second major from more than 100 on offer. It gives you the space, choice and flexibility to take on units from our Open Learning Environment on topics such as business entrepreneurship, global health challenges, and cultural competence. You can also challenge yourself with advanced coursework and tackle real-world industry, community and research challenges with project-based learning so that your studies prepare you to influence the world around you.