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What Is a Double Master’s? Should I Study One in 2021?

Double-sided tape, double cream, double mattresses, double rainbows, double cheeseburgers — are most things that start with ‘double’ great?

Does this apply to double Master’s degrees? And what should you know before applying for such an ambitious academic programme?

Let’s find out!

What is a dual/double Master’s degree?

A dual degree — also referred to as a double degree — is an academic offering that allows you to study two related or complementary disciplines at the same time.

Double degrees are often provided by (at least) two different universities, either in the same country or in different ones. It’s also possible to find dual degrees offered by the same university.

Double degrees are available at both Bachelor’s and Master’s levels, but it’s much more common to see Master’s students enrolling in this degree type.

Find double Master’s degrees

How long is a double Master’s degree?

Most dual Master’s programmes take between 18 months (1,5 years) and 24 months (2 years) to complete. You might occasionally find shorter courses.

This degree type isn’t normally offered as part-time studies, mainly due to the high level of work involved. If you have a job or other responsibilities, a double Master’s probably isn’t for you right now.

How many diplomas will I receive?

Most dual or double Master’s programmes reward graduates with two diplomas:

  • either one from each academic institution that participates in this type of educational offering
  • or one for each discipline studied if the double degree is offered by a single university

Why should I study a double Master’s degree?

There are many reasons to start such an endeavour. Maybe you want an academic challenge; maybe you can’t choose between two subjects you really want to study; maybe you want to ‘future-proof’ your CV and professional career — the list could go on.

You should know best why studying a double Master’s is a good idea. But in terms of advantages, these are some of the main ones:

  • A standout CV: employers are very likely to appreciate a candidate with such an achievement because they know not anyone could pull it off, and it highlights your ambition and courage.
  • Cultural awareness: if your dual Master’s is offered by universities in different countries, it’s an excellent opportunity to discover different cultures, learn to work with other global citizens, and discover new mentalities and approaches. These can prove very useful further both professionally and personally.
  • Foreign language mastery: again, if your studies will take place abroad, learning at least one or two different languages will be a great asset. Not only does it change your personality and expand your ability to communicate, but it also enables you to find work in multiple countries.
  • Double your connections: by living and studying in different countries or regions, you’ll meet all kinds of people, start new friendships or even business partnerships; after graduation, these connections and networking with others can prove to be a huge advantage.

Student working on her assignments

Double Master’s degrees vs double majors

Double majors are most popular at colleges in the United States, and the name can create a lot of confusion for students interested in double degrees. The following are the main differences between these academic offerings with similar titles:

  • With a double major, you only get one degree and one diploma with two different areas of specialisation or expertise. With a dual degree, you get two different diplomas at the end.
  • A double major takes the same amount of time to finish as a regular degree. A double degree can take 1 or 2 additional years, depending on the programme.
  • Double degrees can be more expensive, especially if offered by universities in different countries.
  • Unlike double degrees, double majors are only available at the undergraduate (Bachelor’s) level.

Dual Master’s degrees vs simultaneous independent Master’s degrees

If things aren’t already confusing, you’ll be ‘happy’ to know that there’s also the option to take two different Master’s from two different universities at the same time.

For example, you can study a Master’s in English Literature at one university and another Master’s in Philosophy at another university. This approach will involve a lot more work and careful planning because each degree will come with its own classes, lectures, assignments, and exams — all of which need to be handled simultaneously.

And since the study programmes aren’t related or part of a planned outcome (like the double degree), professors from each university might not be very understanding about your struggles and will likely demand that you finish your assignments just like other students — in short, no special treatment.

Double Master’s degrees vs joint degrees

Let’s introduce another element in this mix: joint degrees.

Joint degrees are similar to double majors, but you can apply for one at both Bachelor’s and Master’s level. During a joint degree, you’ll study two academic disciplines — e.g. History and Political Science — but you’ll graduate with a single combined diploma.

Joint degrees take the same time to graduate as regular degrees, and the number of credits and classes is the same.

Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree programme

The Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree or the EMJMD can be seen as a special type of joint degree. It is a highly rated and appreciated international programme allowing students from all over the world to graduate with either a joint diploma or multiple diplomas from different (usually) European universities.

Find EMJMD Masters

Unlike double degrees, the EMJMD usually focuses on a single discipline (e.g. Economics, Chemical Innovation); during your studies, you need to spend time in at least two different countries and cultures, which is a key element of the EMJMD.

Anyone who has a Bachelor’s diploma can apply for the EMJMD, and there’s even a special scholarship available.

Learn more about the EMJMD programme.

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