, Volume 55, Issue 5, pp 575-591
Date: 20 Jun 2007

Double degrees: double the trouble or twice the return?

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Double degrees (also called joint or combined degrees)—programs of study combining two bachelor degrees—are increasingly popular in Australian universities, particularly among women. A case study using qualitative and quantitative surveys of current and past double degree students is presented. The study indicates that double degrees benefit students in providing a broad education and increasing skills and options. However, benefits are not fully realised because of administrative difficulties, lack of support and absence of ‘learning communities’. These problems arise because double degrees sit outside the disciplinary structure of universities. As such, however, double degrees have potential to provide transdisciplinary education. We suggest initiatives that would improve the experience, performance and persistence of double degree students. They would also build the skills of integration, boundary work, communication and teamwork associated with transdisciplinarity. These skills not only equip students for a range of employment; they are sorely needed in society.

This article is dedicated to the memory of Diana Temple, an inspiration to women in science.