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How a double degree can open up career possibilities

Choosing a university course can sometimes mean committing to one passion and excluding others. If this is something you are struggling with you’ll be pleased to know it doesn’t have to be this way. If you have more than one field of interest or you’re aiming for a cross-discipline career, there are several options worth exploring.

Sometimes known as a double degree or dual programs, combined courses allow you to study for two degrees at the same time. While a traditional single undergraduate degree usually takes three years to complete, a combined or double degree can usually be completed in four or five years. This means it’s quicker and cheaper than completing two separate degrees at different times.

So is a double degree worth it? We spoke to some academics and graduates about how to open up your career possibilities.

Keeping two paths open

Some combined courses bring together two generalist degrees from different areas. It’s a great option to consider if you’re still deciding what you want to do, but want to get started on your study journey.

Doing a double degree is also perfect if you’re curious about a few different areas. It could be about indulging a passion while getting the skills to graduate ready for the workplace, or you might end up combining the two disciplines to forge a unique career path.

Love creative writing but want to be an environmental scientist? A combined Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science could be the course for you. Intrigued by economics but hoping to become a lawyer? The Bachelor of Commerce/Bachelor of Laws has your name on it. Whether it’s arts, law, science, business, health sciences or forensic science, there is a double degree combination to suit all interests.

While the two areas of some combined degrees may not be directly related, the fields of study often feed each other. Dr Ahmed Ferdous, course director of the Bachelor of Business at Deakin, uses the combined Bachelor of Business/Bachelor of Arts as an example. ‘The Bachelor of Business suits the entrepreneurial-minded student who seeks breadth of skill development and the Bachelor of Arts degree focuses on building the ability to think critically, laterally and collaboratively and developing transferrable skills in communication, research, analysis, and problem-solving,’ he explains. ‘A combination of business and arts dovetails as a complementary set of skills for the entrepreneurial-minded student and as a result, not only improves employability but also opens up a world of opportunity for graduates in this combined course.’

Dr Ferdous says gaining expertise in two diverse fields may significantly improve employability. ‘Such lateral and transferable skills are highly sought after in industry, particularly in emerging and innovative business contexts,’ he explains.

'A combination of business and arts dovetails as a complementary set of skills for the entrepreneurial-minded student.'

Dr Ahmed Ferdous,
Faculty of Business and Law, Deakin University

Gaining additional expertise in one field

Another double degree option is a combined course with two degrees in similar areas. This allows you to take a deep dive into a field or industry and graduate with highly specialised skills.

For Norman Huynh, studying a Bachelor of Exercise and Science Sport Science/Bachelor of Business (Sport Management) gave an insight into two different aspects of the sport industry, and provided the skills needed for an exciting career working with the PGA Tour on the 2019 Presidents Cup. ‘Coming out of high school, I knew that I wanted to build a career around sports, whether that involved working behind the scenes assisting with event operations or perhaps analysing athletic performance,’ he says. ‘Studying two top-tier courses has not only provided me with a solid foundation of theories and academic practices, but the hands-on teaching approach naturally allowed me to excel within a practical setting in the real world.’

Michael Sharman, an associate lecturer in Deakin’s Bachelor of Design (Architecture)/Bachelor of Construction Management (Honours), says this five-year double degree offers students a well-rounded approach to the built environment discipline by combining the creative and imaginative side of architecture to the pragmatic and management side of construction. ‘The degree offers a robustness where students take what they learnt from both into either role – high organisation, planning and project management skills along with an appreciation for design and creative intent that makes the building and spaces around us,’ he says.

Students have the option of becoming a construction manager or going on to complete a Master of Architecture and work towards registration as an architect. ‘A selling point is that within six years full time – the combined degree and Master of Architecture – students can achieve three degrees,’ Mr Sharman explains.

According to Mr Sharman, students who complete the combined course develop a wider comprehension of how a building can be realised. He says some students, committed to becoming a architects, choose to spend some time working as a construction manager first in order to deepen their experience of the field.

If you have strengths and passions across a number of disciplines, finding ways to develop and bring them together can create the building blocks for a satisfying and flexible career.

this. featured experts
Dr Ahmed Ferdous
Dr Ahmed Ferdous

Course Director, Bachelor of Business, Faculty of Business and Law, Deakin University

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Michael Sharman
Michael Sharman

Associate lecturer, School of Architecture & Built Environment, Deakin University

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