Tamorie is a woman of few words. But every word counts.
Love your work!
I have a quick question. What’s the benefit of a second bachelor’s degree? Is there one?
Great question. I’ll assume that what’s given rise to this question is you being in some proximity to students pursuing or discussing double-degree programs.
(I’m also going to skip the obvious situation of people undergoing a career change. For example, if you’re a chemical engineer and you want to become a labor & delivery nurse, you have to get a degree in nursing if you want that to happen for you. )
Quick answer: A second bachelor’s degree may widen your appeal to employers and give you more career options. Is it worth what you’ll pay? Buyer beware. Depends on your situation.
Better answer: If getting a master’s and/or a doctorate is getting a deeper education, then getting two bachelor’s degrees is an example of going wider with your education.
While having a master’s in biology makes you more qualified in biology than someone with a B.S., then having a bachelor’s in biology and a bachelor’s in, say, economics — well, that makes you entry-level qualified for both biology and economics.
Which is definitely not a bad thing, don’t get me wrong. I mean, grab an econ grad and a bio grad, and hey, you’re like both of them in one body, right? But I’m just saying that because they’re not closely related fields, it’s unlikely that an employer looking at you for a biology-related job would find a lot of added value with your econ degree. Same as vice versa.
Now, having said that, there are some jobs for which a double degree, even in seemingly unrelated fields, can give you an explosive advantage over others. For example, using the above bio-econ combination, you might make a hellaciously attractive candidate for a job as a stock analyst in the biotechnology sector.
Same with, say, journalism and anything scientific, medical, technological or mathematical. The door to science jobs *might* crack open a little wider with a journalism degree that suggests you can write, but your science-wielding abilities are gonna be the lion’s share of what makes you employable.
However, in journalism, that extra degree is huge. It suggests that you actually have a basis for understanding — and therefore, doing good reporting on — science, technology, math, etc.
The selection of journalism and investing as examples aren’t unintentional. Both are fields chock full of people tasked with understanding, writing about, and making giant decisions about subjects on which they often have zero formal education.
If you waltz in with an actual degree in something that bestows upon you at least the beginnings of an understanding of complex issues, you’re already in short supply, which leads to high demand, which leads to better money.
So don’t get me wrong about divergent fields — sometimes they can lead to great jobs that really merge the two (which I guess turns them into convergent fields, but whatever).
But as you might expect, these jobs are not nearly as numerous as the ones out there that only require one or the other. And if you’re going for one of those, don’t expect the additional, pretty much unrelated degree to bring you a salary bump, because it won’t — not in the same way an advanced degree in the main discipline would.
Now, when is it worth it to do the double-degree thing? I like the idea of it when, a) there’s a lot of crossover between the courses in the two disciplines, and getting both degrees only adds a year or less to your schooling, or b) you have an excellent line on one of those sweet combined-discipline jobs like I mentioned earlier.
Both situations limit your financial risk. The first limits your cost and the second widens your income potential.
I’m not a huge believer in getting a degree in history and a degree in math just because you like history and math. Unless you have unlimited financial resources (in which case, you can pretty much disregard this post and almost everything I write on this site, ever), that’s not a smart choice. You can love both history and math to death and study them deeply your entire life without paying outlandish college costs in order to do so.
— I hope that helps answer your very brief question. 🙂 What about you guys? Any thoughts on particularly good degree combinations? Really bad and financially disastrous ones? Let us know in the comments below.