Concurrent degree: Is it worth it?

thinking about pursuing higher education

If you are leaving high school, you are probably thinking about what major you should be studying for in university. Or probably you may be thinking about taking a double major or double degree too. But you may hardly think about what kind of master’s degree you should apply to. That should be left to four years later, shouldn’t it? Not exactly, because you can apply for a concurrent degree in NUS, SMU and NTU.

How it Works

A concurrent degree allows you to study for a master’s degree right after you complete your undergraduate study. It is designed in such a way that what you study for your bachelor’s degree will contribute in part to the fulfillment of a master’s degree requirement. Hence you will spend around four and half to five years to finish a concurrent degree, as opposed to the usual 6 years if you were to apply for a master’s program separately in university.

Cost and Time Efficient

Save time and money, sounds good? Many of your peers think so too. In NUS alone, the number of students doing a concurrent degree has increased from 10 in 2009 to about 100 in 2014. Some flagship programs, such as the NUS Global Engineering Program or the NTU Renaissance Engineering Program, have been attracting the best students from high schools. It seems to be the new trend for the local tertiary education.

Synergy in Learning

Not only you save more, you seem to benefit more too. The concurrent degree programs do not simply combine two degrees into one stream. It takes into account the synergy between the two studies. A concurrent degree may involve a business degree and a law degree where commercial knowledge is needed in both areas. The degree in real estate or architecture just goes so well with a higher degree in urban planning. By the end of the program, you will have enhanced knowledge in both areas.

Improve your Employability

higher education for better employment

And employers like such people. If you know more than one field, you are potentially more employable in more places. Since a concurrent degree is harder to get in (and your employer knows that), you will look better in the eye of a recruiter. In fact, for certain more competitive jobs, a master’s degree is actually preferred to a bachelor’s degree. In a country where job competition is going up, having a master’s degree seems to give one an edge.

Secure your Further education

Of course, doing a concurrent degree also saves you the trouble of applying for a master degree program later. In a sense, you already lock in your further education when you just start your undergraduate study. No more studying until late night to pull up your GPA (but your GPA is still important to be sure), no more going after professors for a recommendation letter, no more application essay writing. Isn’t that cool?

Find out your Motivations

But before you sign up for the program, there are a few things you may want to think through first. The first and biggest question is why you want to do that master’s degree. Simply because it is a master’s degree? Or because it looks prestigious? Even though a concurrent degree saves more time and money, it still incurs more time and money for you compared to if you just do a bachelor’s degree.

Allowing for a Change of mind?

changing one's mind

Or are you absolutely sure that the master’s degree program offered by the concurrent degree is the one you want to do? Would you be changing your mind while you are in university? In fact, it is very common for university students to develop a different idea of what they want to do in their life, after getting more exposure in university. Sometimes, locking in your future too early may limit your choices.

Greater Flexibility of choice

It may be a better idea to take time to explore first. While you are in university, think about these two questions: do I really want to do a master’s degree? If I do, what and where should I do it? If you apply separately, the number of master’s degree program available is vastly larger than the one offered by concurrent degrees. If you want to study overseas, then a local concurrent degree cannot offer you that. They do have some overseas exchange program, but you still receive the degree from one of the local universities.

Less Freedom of Exploration

Taking a concurrent degree will definitely make your life busier in university. You have to accelerate your learning. But to be sure, you don’t study the twice the amount compared to a single degree student, because the curriculum often makes use of your free elective credits to cover the modules that contribute to your master’s degree. Hence what you will have less is the freedom to explore different areas of study. Your learning will be more specialized and focused.

less freedom

Hope by now you would have a better picture of concurrent degrees in Singapore. It is definitely an interesting degree design, which comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. Check your own situation against the reasons we listed above and make an informed decision.


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