Conjoint degrees: the University’s answer to students being indecisive about their future.
Just kidding. It’s more than that – but if you are indecisive about your future, like I was last year, a conjoint degree is a pretty good solution!
In short, a conjoint degree allows you to study two different degrees simultaneously, which is awesome. I do a conjoint degree across the Bachelor of Science (in Computer Science) and the new Bachelor of Communication, and the breadth of experiences I’ve had through my classes is far beyond what it would’ve been if I’d only done one of them.
So let’s talk about that, and take a fun closer look at conjoints.
How do they work?
Well, since a conjoint degree is just a mashup of two degrees, we should first go over some basics for how a single degree works.
At uni, degrees essentially consist of you taking a bunch of required classes that are considered “core” for your chosen major/specialization/whatever, and then a bunch of “elective” classes that have some degree of freedom and choice for you to explore whatever your heart desires*.
*Terms and conditions apply, and electives are sometimes limited to a certain list of classes related to your degree’s focus.
The gist of conjoints, then, is that the University kindly lets you skip over some of those optional electives and instead take just the important, core bits of two separate degrees. That lets you complete both in less time. It’s a little longer than an individual degree – most single degrees are 3 years long, as opposed to 4 for most conjoints – but still far shorter than the 6 years it would take to do them separately.
There are a few catches here: if you’re taking a heavily prescribed or structured degree, like Engineering or Law, which have a lot of required classes, then you get another year added on top. Some degrees (mostly the medical ones) don’t let you do conjoints at all.
To make everything fit nicely, a conjoint degree usually requires you to take one extra class per year: 9 instead of 8.
Why should I do a conjoint?
Great question! I’m admittedly a little biased, being a conjoint person myself, but there are plenty of reasons why conjoints are super cool.
- They help you diversify your knowledge, if you fancy yourself being the type of person who knows some stuff about a bunch of things.
- They help make university more varied, since you’ll be exposed to classes from multiple fields rather than just a few. One morning, I’ll be sitting in a programming tutorial, and a few hours later, I’ll be listening to a presentation about climate change. Of course, you can also do this with some gen-ed classes in any degree, but nowhere near as many.
- They give you more opportunities to do what you love. Maybe you’re really interested in engineering, but you also want to learn how to start a business. Maybe you’ve always been passionate about printmaking and the fine arts, but your analytical side is telling you to study physics. Well, a conjoint lets you do both!
On another hand, if you’re more of a career-oriented person, and you’re less interested in the whole “I really love what I’m doing” thing (don’t worry, that’s understandable), then a conjoint can leave you feeling warm and fluffy inside with the knowledge that your sparkly, shiny, diverse skillset makes you more employable.
Disclaimer: I’m not a hiring manager or corporate recruiter and can not directly comment on your employability status outside of what other people tell me.
Of course, if you’re not a huge fan of more work, then a conjoint might not be for you – and that’s fine! Many people would prefer to just study one degree and get university over and done with, and many people would rather spend the extra year that conjoints take up doing things they feel are more important.
Wait, can’t I also study two subjects with a double major?
Yes, but also no.
This is a little confusing.
Majors are part of a degree, so a double major means you study two subjects under one degree. For example, you could study both Physics and Computer Science as a double major under the Bachelor of Science – but both of those subjects are science. A conjoint, meanwhile, is two separate degrees, so you can combine whatever you like!
I’ll throw in an analogy. Imagine a degree is a type of vehicle (like a car), and a major is a model of that vehicle. If you had a double major, you could have two different cars, like a Ferrari and a Toyota. They’re very different cars, but they’re both still cars. Some people are car fans, and would like that! But if you’d rather, say, a car and a plane, then that’s a conjoint.
What’s it actually like?
Conjoints are fun.
Okay, that’s not always true – you (generally) do more work – but conjoints introduce a level of sparkle to your university life that you’ll probably appreciate! Very few people will love one field and one field alone, and studying just one thing might not be your cup of tea. One class full of statistics and math problems is enough for me, and walking into another class where we’re discussing, say, the social impacts of TikTok, is a breath of fresh air. And vice versa!
As for the workload, conjoints do definitely make it a little harder. I’m doing five classes this semester, rather than the usual four, and sometimes it’s a bit of a struggle. For example, right now, I have six assignments due within a week… and I’m procrastinating by doing funner things, like writing this blog.
If you want, you could also lengthen the duration of your degree (by an extra half year), or take some classes in Summer School, to reduce the workload of a conjoint down to similar levels as a single degree.
So – at the end of the day – why do a conjoint? Basically, if you’re passionate about several things, a conjoint will let you do more of them, while making yourself more knowledgeable and employable while you’re at it. That’s basically the gist of it.
Plus, with a good dose of healthy time management, a conjoint is certainly manageable.
It’s only 12.5% more work than a normal degree, after all.
andrew qiuandrew qiu
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