Diving Into A Dual Degree

Hi prospective IEDPers! My name is Sam Nguyen. I’m a dual degree student in IEDP and Nonprofit Leadership (NPL) at the School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2) at Penn. I’m happy to share my experience as a dual degree student, especially as application deadlines are fast approaching.

A picture of Sam

What is the dual degree application process like?
Although there are a range of dual degree options available across Penn’s twelve graduate and professional schools, there is no streamlined application process for most of those options. This means you will need to submit your individual application to each program and be admitted to both before you can declare the dual degree. The downsides to this are primarily time and cost (application fees). However, there are some upsides:

  • You may choose to enroll in only one of the two degrees you get accepted to if you have a change of heart.
  • You do not need to apply to both programs in the same year. For example, if you are currently in IEDP and you realize during your first year that you would like to pursue NPL as well, then you may choose to apply to NPL while at Penn.

Can you share some application pointers for prospective dual degree students?
If you have decided that you want to become a dual degree student, here are some of my key takeaways from my experience:

  • Be mindful of deadlines. Different graduate schools and programs have different sets of deadlines and policies. For example, IEDP has a priority deadline (Feb 1) and a rolling policy for afterward, while NPL has a priority deadline (Dec 15) and a hard regular deadline (Jan 15).
  • Treat them like two separate applications, because separate groups of people are reading them.
  • Be wary of using the exact same Statement of Purpose for both programs, as schools might be asking for different things. For example, SP2 asks very specific questions in their application, while GSE keeps it more open-ended.

What is the dual degree experience like? What are some pros and cons?
The prospect of doing a dual degree was not what endeared Penn to me in the first place, but it played a huge role in my final decision to join the Penn community. I have been enjoying my experience a lot. There are so many great things about being a dual degree student:

  • You have multiple communities.
  • You get access to resources (programming, job opportunities, etc.) from both schools.
  • You graduate with two degrees with fewer credits!
  • A lot of the time, your class content overlap and you get to examine similar themes from more holistic perspectives.
Sam with her friends at a Friendsgiving Dinner

There are cons, however:

  • You do not have the flexibility to take electives outside of your two programs.
  • Greater cost, longer program duration!

Regardless of whether you are applying for a dual degree program or not, understand your ‘WHY’ while weighing the pros and cons. That’s all for now! Good luck with your application(s).

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