Thinking of pursuing a double degree? Read this first.

Shared by: Edwin Wong, Singapore Management University, Year 3

Background

 

After receiving my ‘A’ Level results, like most other JC kids, I had to decide on a university course that aligns with my field/career in future. Previously, life in a JC was straightforward and simple, and each progression felt like a planned series of milestones that would eventually lead me into the workforce.

In contrast, the choice of a degree program was more complex.  At 19 and just beginning to serve my National Service, I felt that I did not have enough maturity and good insights to choose an appropriate degree program for myself. I simply didn’t know what I wanted to do for a career in future.

Finally, I decided on SMU business program as I believe that a general degree that would provide me with a strong foundation and at the same time, minimize my risk of selecting an unsuitable degree.

What are my motivations in pursuing a double degree?

 

At the end of the second year of my studies, I enrolled in SMU’s double degree program by pursuing a second degree in accountancy. Here are some of my reasons:

Acquisition of specialized knowledge and skills

 

In the first 2 years, the business program provided me with a broad knowledge on many functions of business, such as finance, marketing, corporate communications, operations etc. Despite being a Finance major, I felt that I wanted more specialization to differentiate myself but none of the finance tracks (Wealth management, international trading, investment banking, Financial risk analysis) interested me. As a professional degree, the accountancy program would provide me with the specialization that I wanted. More importantly, I felt that the accounting modules go deeper into the subject thus providing me with a more in depth learning experience.

Interest and strengths

 

University has given me an invaluable opportunity to discover my strengths and interests. Exposure to basic accounting modules such as Financial Accounting, Management accounting and Corporate Reporting during the first few semesters in business school has helped me discover that I have an inclination towards accounting subjects because they tend to simulate me intellectually more than any other disciplines. Scoring distinctions for these modules further encouraged me to enrol in the accountancy program.

Employment prospects

 

Another motivating factor was due to my belief that an additional degree in accounting would open doors to more career opportunities for myself, such as career choice and progression. In addition to the types of jobs that finance majors would typically end up, an accounting degree will allow entry to careers in audit, advisory or tax related services in one of the big 4 accounting firms, which are some of the possible career options I am currently interested in.

Double degree, what is in it for you?

 

If you are interested in enrolling in a double degree program, here are some considerations you may like to know:

More Modules

 

A single degree single major undergraduate in SMU will need to complete 36 modules. A single degree double major undergraduate usually needs to complete about 38 modules. If you pursue a double degree in Business Management (Finance Major) and Accountancy, you will need to complete 42 modules in total so as to fulfil the requirements from both degree programs. Other combinations generally require even more than 42 modules. Some students will prefer to squeeze in more modules per semester or take a few modules during the summer term to fulfil the 6 (or more) extra modules. For myself, as I was only enrolled into the double degree program at the end of my second year, I am only able to complete the double degree program by taking an extra semester (4.5 years instead of 4 years). Therefore, you may like to think about how to spread out the modules to fulfil your degree requirements.

More difficult modules

 

A second factor you may like to consider is the increased difficulty in modules. Many finance modules in general cover broader ideas and exams are tested on a MCQ/short-answer basis. When enrolling in modules in the accounting core (ACCT222, Tax, Advance financial accounting, Audit etc.) and accounting options, you will certainly experience an increase in difficulty. Syllabus tends to go much deeper into the topics and exams are mostly calculations and open-ended questions. Therefore, it will definitely require more academic effort to understand and do well.

If you are deciding on a secondary degree in accountancy, you can check out a good guide at ASoc’s webpage here: http://asoc.smusa.sg/acad-moddiff.html.

The choice is yours!

 

On considering whether to enrol in a double degree, here are some pointers I have to share:

  • Long term goals

 

Your decision should be determined by whether you believe the additional burden on you will help you better achieve your career aims in the long run.

  • Interests

 

Studying something that you are interested in will certainly put you at an advantage. If you find yourself enrolled into a course that you are genuinely interested in, the As will follow. It would be extremely painful for one to pursue a prestigious degree program that he/she has no interest in.

  • Gathering opinions

 

To find out what’s in it for you, it is certainly good to attend the respective academic advisory sessions organized by the school you are interested in. In addition, it may also be good to speak to seniors or your female JC classmates to ask for their opinion.

Final words

 

During my free time, I enjoy running a photograph business with a friend, taking photographs for schools, graduating students, family studio portraits and also product photography. While attaining academic success should be every student’s primary objective (You need GPA>3.4 to do double degree anyway), don’t forget to find fulfilment in non-academic endeavours too! Good luck!

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