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The Pros and Cons of Getting a Second Bachelor's Degree

If you already hold a Bachelor's Degree from an accredited U.S. institution, your next academic pursuit (if you choose to continue with more education) is likely to be a Master's Degree or Doctorate Degree program. However, in some cases, pursuing a second Bachelor's Degree may also be an option to consider. Keep in mind that these cases are rare, but for some graduates, retooling their career completely or gaining new skills can be achieved with a second Bachelor's Degree. Let's take a look at some of the scenarios where this path may be a good option, as well as alternatives that may be a better choice, depending on your situation.


When a Second Bachelor's Degree May Make Sense

Circumstances in which getting a second Bachelor's Degree is advisable are rare. Always consider other options, including those listed in the section below, before choosing the second-degree route. Also, it's a good idea to speak with academic counselors to understand the academic and professional implications of getting a second Bachelor's Degree. Some students may consider this option in these cases:

  • Your first degree was earned in a professional school, such as a School of Pharmacy or Engineering. If you are currently interested in getting a broader liberal arts education, a second Bachelor's Degree may make sense for you.
  • You earned your first degree many years ago. If it's been a long time since you were an undergrad and you want to change careers, a second Bachelor's Degree may make sense if you have very little educational experience with your new career path. However, always consider graduate school as an option in this case (see section below).

 

How to Minimize the Time Needed to Get a Second Bachelor's Degree

If you do decide to pursue a second Bachelor's Degree, do carefully research the graduation requirements at any schools you may be considering. Some schools will allow you to transfer general education credits from your first Bachelor's Degree so that you do not need to complete a second four years (or about 120 semester credit hours) of study. Other schools do not offer this option, and will therefore significantly increase the amount of time and money you spend getting a second Bachelor's Degree.
 

When a Second Bachelor's Degree Does Not Make Sense

Those who argue against getting a second Bachelor's Degree point (rightly) to the fact that a second degree of this kind is redundant in nature. In addition, the degree is awarded for a broad base of knowledge and education, with the only specialization being within the academic major. Therefore, some argue that a second Bachelor's Degree may be interpreted in a negative light. Some may wonder if the graduate is unwilling to undertake the commitment and rigor of graduate school. However, if you decide to pursue a second Bachelor's Degree for legitimate reasons (see section above) in many cases it will be up to you to disclose (or not) the first Bachelor's Degree you earned to potential employers or other contacts. This may be important to consider, because having a second Bachelor's Degree in another field is almost never an advantage in and of itself. The second degree, on its own, has value, but the two degrees together do not add value to your credentials. If you do have the qualifications and drive to pursue graduate school, it is almost always recommended over getting a second Bachelor's Degree. Even if your undergraduate degree was earned in a subject other than what you want to pursue in graduate school, this does not make a strong case for getting a second Bachelor's Degree because most graduate programs do not require students to have completed undergraduate studies in the same subject area.
 

Alternatives to Getting a Second Bachelor's Degree

Always consider alternatives to getting a second Bachelor's Degree, especially if your career goals can be achieved or advanced through other means. Consult with academic advisors and career professionals about alternatives, which may include:

  • Graduate studies. If you wish to pursue a professional or research-based career, a Master's Degree or Doctorate Degree program is advised. Even if your undergraduate degree is in a different subject area than what you want to pursue in graduate school, you may only need to supplement your degree with courses that are prerequisites for your chosen graduate school program. In many cases these courses can be taken at an affordable public state school or even at an online school.
  • Additional certifications or accreditations. If you are looking to advance your career in a given field, continuing education credits may be needed or courses taken toward a specific certification or accreditation. In many cases, you can take the required courses only to get the additional certifications that you need.
  • Pursuing a double major. If you are currently in the process of getting your first Bachelor's Degree and you want to broaden your knowledge and skills in two very different fields, a double major is always advisable over a second Bachelor's Degree. A second major may lengthen the amount of time you spend in college, but in most cases it will still take less time and cost less money than getting a second degree.

 

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