International dual and joint degrees are programs in which two or
more institutions from different countries form partnerships to design
and deliver an academic program. In many of these programs, institutions
in non-English speaking countries are paired with US institutions.
According to research conducted by the American Council on Education
(ACE), the top five partner countries for international joint and dual
degree programs are China, France, Turkey, Germany, and South Korea.
ACE defines two types of programs:
In dual degree programs, a student receives a qualification from each
of the partner institutions. These programs are also known as double
In joint degree programs, a student receives a single qualification endorsed by both institutions.
Dual degree programs tend to be more complex and variable. In some
programs, students might receive a degree from each university in the
same program of study, while at others they may receive a degree from
each institution for distinctly different majors. Some offer two
degrees, but at different levels, such as awarding a bachelor’s from one
institution and a master’s degree from another. Students are advised to
make sure they understand program policies before enrolling.
Many joint and dual degree programs require students to study at the
partner institution overseas for one to two years or during the summer.
One such example, the program between the College of William & Mary
in Williamsburg, Virginia and the University of St. Andrews in Scotland,
offers undergraduate students the option to pursue a joint degree in
economics, English, history, or international relations. Depending on
where they enroll their first year, students will then spend their
second year at the other university, and consult with their advisors on
how to split their third and fourth years between the two locations.
International joint and dual degree programs also help US
institutions diversify their campuses. ACE’s data show that 63 percent
of joint or dual degree programs enroll non-US students only; 34 percent
enroll a mix of US and non-US students; and only 4 percent enroll just
American students. US universities express eagerness to expand the
numbers of US students engaged in such programs, but thus far they have
proven more popular among international students hoping to study in the