Are you considering dual masters and doctorate degree programs online?
A dual degree program allows you to earn a master’s degree and a doctorate at the same time. These programs are also referred to as a joint degree program or as masters PhD combined programs.
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If your end-goal is a PhD or a professional doctorate, this degree pathway lets you enroll in both the masters program and the doctoral program simultaneously.
Dual Masters and Doctorate Degree Programs Online
A combined masters PhD program allows you to earn both degrees at once, but the degrees themselves serve different purposes.
A masters degree is awarded to graduates who have demonstrated mastery in a certain field or area of professional practice. If you graduate with a masters degree, you’ll likely possess advanced knowledge and improved professional skills for the career of your choice.
If you hold a masters, you are considered more specialized than a bachelor’s level. On the other hand, a doctoral degree—whether a professional doctorate or a Ph.D.—is the highest degree you can obtain in an academic discipline.
For the field of psychology specifically, there are universities that offer combined masters and PsyD programs. The PsyD is the doctor of psychology degree.
Many students pursue a doctorate to increase their professional credibility or improve the quality of their resume. They are often regarded as experts in their field. If your final educational goal is to obtain a doctorate, then you probably know that many doctoral programs require you to hold a master’s degree first.
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Combining the two programs can be beneficial. Here are some advantages of dual degree programs:
- Often take less time to finish
- Can enable a deeper level of understanding
- No break taken between the two degrees
On the other hand, enrolling in two programs simultaneously isn’t for the faint of heart. Here are some disadvantages of joint degree programs:
- Heavier workload
- Need to carefully plan your educational journey
- More intensive admission process
- Not offered by every school
Before enrolling in a combined masters PhD program, you may want to weigh the pros and cons to determine if it’s the right path for you.
Common Masters and Doctorate Combined Programs
Which fields can you combine into a masters PhD program? While there are many dual degree combinations, the following are some of the most common.
MBA / Doctor of Medicine (MD)
A Master of Business Administration (MBA) can be combined with an MD to pursue a career in healthcare management, policy, or administration. Graduates might also work in consulting, the pharmaceutical industry, or finance.
MBA / Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD)
The MBA/Doctor of Pharmacy dual degree combines the study of business with the study of pharmaceuticals.
Graduates of this program may want to become directors or administrators of the pharmaceutical industry. They tend to work in state and federal healthcare agencies or in pharmaceutical manufacturing corporations.
MBA / Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)
There are many opportunities for a psychologist with business training, especially as the workplace continues to place more emphasis on employee relationships.
With appropriate licensure, an MBA/PsyD graduate can work in nearly any industry as a psychologist, therapist, or counselor. A masters in business administration is especially applicable to the field of industrial-organizational psychology.
Executive MBA/Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
Nurses with a DNP and an executive MBA generally pursue careers in healthcare leadership and management. They might work as a nurse or healthcare administrator, director of nursing, or nurse CEO.
Juris Doctor (JD) / Master of Business Administration (MBA)
Lawyers with a business degree often practice law within a business setting or become public advocates. They might work in a law firm or in a large business as an in-house legal advisor. They might also take on management positions that require an extensive legal background.
Juris Doctor (JD) / MA in International Affairs
The JD/MA in International Affairs combined program helps prepare students for a career in international agencies, negotiations, and human rights organizations. This program is designed for students who have a strong interest in international law.
Juris Doctor (JD) / Master of Public Policy (MPP)
The combination of a law degree and a Master of Public Policy equips students with the expertise needed to work in the political arena. Graduates may pursue careers as political advisors, prosecutors, or lobbyists, to name a few.
Juris Doctor (JD) / Master of Education (MEd)
A Master of Education along with a law degree can help prepare students to become educational policy makers, administrators, or practitioners who can successfully navigate the state, federal, and local decision-making process.
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This dual degree program can prepare graduates for leadership roles or advocacy roles within the educational system.
Master of Social Work (MSW) / PhD
A combined MSW/PhD in Social Work prepares graduates for teaching, research, and administrative roles. Social workers with a PhD will often work as executive directors, consultants, and administrators in a variety of agencies and organizations.
Doctor of Dental Medicine (DDM) / Master of Public Health (MPH)
Graduates of a DDM/MPH program are often prepared to help shape the dental practice by assessing, developing, and implementing innovative programs within the community setting. They tend to take positions in public health, administration, and education.
Masters and Doctorate Admissions Requirements
Admissions requirements for a dual degree program are similar to the requirements for masters and doctorate programs. Common requirements include:
- Minimum undergraduate GPA
- Letters of recommendation
- Work experience
- GRE or GMAT scores (if required)
An initial application is necessary in order to earn a combined degree. Many programs encourage students to apply for a combined masters and doctorate degree at least a year ahead of enrollment time. Written academic plans may also be required. These are usually worked out between you and both academic departments.
If a school is regionally accredited, it means the school has been recognized as providing student services and advanced training that meet high quality standards.
If you are serious about your graduate degree, it’s beneficial to pursue a regionally accredited program. Doctoral degrees from accredited institutions are recognized as the highest level of training or expertise achieved in that field. Employers also recognize and respect degrees from accredited schools.
To find an accredited university, you can visit the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and explore their university database.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
Students at the graduate level may qualify for federal and state financial aid. To find out if you are eligible, you can visit the US Department of Education’s website and fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
As a combined master’s/PhD student, you might also qualify for a fellowship or a TA or RA position. Fellowships are typically awarded to advanced students based on merits.
Teaching assistant and resident assistant positions are typically awarded to graduate students as well. These positions are usually awarded in the second half of the first year or in the second year.
You can also look for scholarships from all of the same organizations that award undergraduate scholarships. Good places to search include professional organizations, nonprofits, and your place of employment. You can also look for college-based awards and career specific awards.
Can I Get My Masters and PhD at the Same Time?
Yes, in some cases, you can get your masters and PhD at the same time. This is usually called “en passant,” meaning “in passing.” These programs allow you to enroll in both a master’s program and a doctoral program simultaneously.
Usually, the coursework from the master’s program is carried over to count against the degree requirements for the doctoral degree.
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Whether or not a dual degree is offered depends on the university, though. Not all universities offer joint degree programs. It’s helpful to check with the individual departments at the school to see if they will offer a combined masters PhD program.
Are Two Master’s Degrees Equivalent to a PhD?
No, two masters degrees are not equivalent to a PhD. A masters degree has an entirely different purpose than a doctoral degree.
A masters program teaches you specialized skills for your chosen field, while a doctorate degree is the highest level of education you can receive in a given field. Doctorate students typically perform deep research and gain expert knowledge of their chosen field.
A masters and doctoral dual program blends the two degrees, providing specialized skills and expert knowledge. Two masters degrees do not blend in this same way.
Which Is Better, a Second Masters or Doctorate Degree?
Whether you should go on for a second master’s degree or pursue a doctorate degree depends on your educational and professional goals.
Some positions require a doctorate for licensure, but others are satisfied with a masters. Either graduate degree can help you advance your expertise and qualify for more responsibilities in the workplace.
What Can You Do with a Dual Masters and Doctorate Degree?
A dual degree program can open the door to opportunities in leadership or academia and research in the field of your choice.
The following fields are projected to have the most openings for those with graduate-level education:
- Community and social services
- Legal, education, and library
- Medical, dental, and nursing
- Postsecondary teaching
- STEM and social science
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, higher education tends to lead to higher wages and lower unemployment rates.
For example, the median annual wage for bachelor degree holders is $64,900. Meanwhile, the median wage for masters graduates is $77,840, and the median for doctoral graduates is $97,920 (Bureau of Labor Statistics).
How Long Does It Take to Get a Combined Master’s and Doctoral Degree Online
While specific programs and universities vary, earning a combined masters and doctoral degree online typically takes about 4 years to complete. A PhD program with a dissertation requirement will often add time to your program.
Earning the two degrees simultaneously can generally save you time. Of course, your field of study and your course load will ultimately determine how long it takes for you to earn a combined masters and PhD. Enrolling part-time can extend your timeframe as well.
Is a Masters and Doctorate Dual-Degree Worth It?
Yes, a masters and doctorate dual-degree is worth it for many professionals. A number of top leadership roles now require a doctorate degree. These roles can be highly specialized and require expert knowledge within the field. Executive, management, and administrative roles in law, education, and public policy often require a doctoral degree.
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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an increasing number of fields are requiring a master’s degree for entry-level employment. As a result, employment for professionals with graduate-level education is projected to grow faster than average over the next ten years.
Universities Offering Online Dual Masters and Doctorate Degree Programs
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
Fairleigh Dickinson University offers a Dual Degree Pathways program that allows students to obtain a master’s degree and a doctorate at the same time.
Students interested in the program may select degrees in Public Administration, Public Health, Health Science, Organizational Psychology, or Business Administration. Students must maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher to graduate.
Fairleigh Dickinson University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
George Mason University offers a dual degree program in Business and Law. Students can work towards obtaining a Juris Doctorate and a Master in Business Administration.
The program can typically be completed after 3 years of full-time studies. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree, GMAT or GRE scores, and 2 professional letters of recommendation. Successful applicants must attend an interview to be admitted.
George Mason University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
National University offers a dual degree program that allows students to complete a Master of Arts in Sport Psychology and a Doctor of Clinical Psychology.
The program can be completed online and usually takes 5 years to finish. Each course is 4 weeks long. Those interested in the program must have an undergraduate degree with a GPA of 2.5 or higher. The school offers year-round admission.
National University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
New York University offers a dual degree program for those interested in getting a Doctor of Dental Surgery and a Master of Business Administration.
Students must first be enrolled in the Doctor of Dental Surgery program and be nominated by the school to be eligible. The program usually takes 5 years to complete. Students usually spend the first two years at the College of Dentistry before shifting to taking both dental and business courses.
New York University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Nova Southeastern University offers a dual degree program that allows students to work towards obtaining a Master’s and a PhD in Health Sciences.
Students can usually obtain the 92 credit hours needed to graduate in 7 to 9 years. Both a thesis and a dissertation are needed to complete both degrees. To be eligible for the degree program, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree with a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
NSU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Rutgers University offers a dual degree program that combines a Master’s and a PhD in Social Work. The program can usually be completed in 4 years.
Those interested in the program may apply either before they are admitted into the school or during their first year in the master’s program. To be eligible, applicants must submit 3 letters of recommendation and GRE scores and have an interview with the PhD program director.
Rutgers is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Texas Tech University offers a program that allows students to complete a Juris Doctor degree and one master’s degree.
The program can usually be completed in 4 years with 12 hours of law courses taking the place of the elective credits from the master’s program. Students interested in the program must declare their program choice before their second semester of law school. Students must meet the admission requirements for the master’s degree to be eligible.
Texas Tech University is accredited with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of Maryland offers students the opportunity to earn a dual doctorate and master’s degree as long as the PhD program is in a related field to the master’s degree.
Courses taken only apply to one program, and the enrollment plan must be submitted to both departments. To be eligible for the program, students must meet the requirements of both their desired programs.
The University of Maryland is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
The University of St. Thomas offers a dual degree program for those interested in obtaining a Juris Doctorate and a Master of Business Administration.
Students may start the program in their third year of law school. Students must complete the law requirements and an additional 30 business credits, including a 3-day, on-campus residency. Applicants must submit LSAT scores and an official transcript to enter the law school.
The University of St. Thomas is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Widener University offers a dual degree for students interested in receiving both a Doctor of Psychology and a Master’s in Criminal Justice.
The program can usually be completed in 5 years and requires students to complete a field placement or internship. To be eligible for the program, students must first apply for the PsyD program and apply for the master’s program in the second semester of their first year.
Widener University is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
Earning Your Dual Masters and Doctorate Degree Online
If a doctorate degree is in your future, it may be beneficial to enroll in both your master’s program and your doctoral program at the same time.
By earning the two degrees simultaneously, your masters courses may be applied to your doctorate program’s requirements. With a combined degree program, you may graduate in less time, take fewer courses, and save a little money in the process.
If you are interested in taking this route, you can get started today by exploring accredited universities that offer dual degree online programs in your field. This may be either dual masters degree programs online or dual master and doctorate programs online.