Allie Bedell

Equinox Staff


Education majors at KSC are often noted to have some of the busiest schedules, between balancing their education courses, their content major classes, and their student teaching.  But the debunking of one misconception can help lighten the load for education majors who are unsure of their workload: the difference between  dual majors and dual degrees.

According to Pam Backes, the associate director of Academic and Career Advising, dual majors and dual degrees, although often incorrectly used interchangeably, are completely different.

“I think students get confused about what constitutes a double major and what constitutes a dual degree,” Backes said.  “The short answer is that you need considerably more credits to complete a dual degree than a dual major, and most students don’t want to take the additional semester(s) needed to be awarded a second degree.”

Students who choose to have dual majors need the regular 120 credits for a Bachelor of Arts or 124 for a Bachelor of Science, depending on their major.  Students who have dual degrees require 144 credits.  This applies to not only education majors, but to all students at KSC.

“As education majors, we have to not only majors in our area of education, but also a content major,” senior Kellie Gouin said.  “There is a list you can find online of the approved content majors based on what level of education you are studying.”

This is confusing for education majors because while they are required to dual major, they are not required to complete dual degrees.  Instead, education majors receive a single diploma for both their education and content major.  Those who choose to can take the additional number of credit hours required to complete a second degree.

“They have a full other major when they graduate,” Shirley McLoughlin, the education department chair, said. “Just like dual majors anywhere else on campus.”

Gouin, who is an early childhood education and sociology major, said she completes all of the coursework for both majors, but without added electives, she doesn’t get the second degree, which she says adds an extra burden to students.

“I need to complete all the coursework as a regular sociology major, including senior seminar, on top of all the education requirements,” she said.  “This means we will graduate with a total of at least 124 credits.”

“In order to graduate with two degrees, you need to meet a certain number of credits [144], but we do not meet that criteria unless we take extra classes.  We do the same amount of coursework in the sociology major but unfortunately, because of the credit numbers, we don’t always graduate with a degree in it.  You can choose to take extra classes and bring your credits up to graduate, but it is hard to find the time.”

McLoughlin said that in the state of New Hampshire, students with an education major are required to have 30 credits in another content area, though they do not necessarily have to complete a second major.  She said KSC requires students to complete a dual major because not only do both majors fit within the normal credit requirements, but it allows students to specialize in an area of their choice.

“It makes Keene State College stand out,” McLoughlin said.  “It’s a plus for our graduates.  It makes us different.”

Additionally, she said if a student later decides not to pursue education, having a second major gives them flexibility with their career.

“We can often tease out what it was that got them into teaching,” McLoughlin said, noting that advisers can link the content major and driving force behind an interest in education to a career path which best suits the student.

Tom Richard, the registrar, said the biggest reason for receiving a dual major instead of a dual degree is scheduling.

“A lot of any of this boils down to what you want when,” Richard said.  “You can make choices you know will count.”

Richard said students who come to KSC as freshmen knowing they want to be an education major and have a specific content major can begin taking courses from the start and schedule well to ensure they choose wisely.  He said this makes it fairly easy for students to receive dual degrees.  But realistically, he said most students don’t know first semester what they’re going to major in, meaning that two degrees could end up taking more time if a student decides to receive two degrees later on in their career at KSC.  He pointed out that extra time means an extra cost.

“The concept of time to degree is becoming more important,” Richard also added.  He noted that both politically and financially, it is increasingly important for students to finish their degrees within four years.

Richard said few students have dual degrees at KSC.

“My estimate would be less than 10 percent,” Richard said, “and the majority of them are education majors.”

Backes added that spending extra time and money at KSC in order to finish a second Bachelor’s degree may not be the most wise plan for students.

“A diploma which lists both majors gives all the information an employer needs,” she said.  “If two degrees are completed, a student could receive two diplomas, but since they are both Bachelor’s degrees, it doesn’t carry much weight.  You’d be better off spending money for graduate courses in your field that would impress a potential employer.  A Master’s degree in your field of study trumps a Bachelor’s degree any day.”

Ultimately, students must decide what works best for their individual needs.


Allie Bedell can be contacted at


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