The Secret to Earning a Second Degree

Posted Wednesday, June 25, 2014

By Donald S. Cucuzzella, MA
 Assistant Director
School of Applied Science and Technology

Students have frequently contacted me about pursuing a second degree, whether it is a second associates or bachelor’s degree. Perhaps they want to gain new skills and broaden their knowledge in two different fields. Other times, students are looking to make a career change and have identified that a second bachelor’s degree can help them in that goal. It’s important to assess which situation best fits your academic and professional goals, and decide if a second degree, second area of study or graduate degree is a better choice for you.

If you are transferring in a large amount of college credits, it makes sense to get the most out of those credits. However, you must also meet all the requirements to earn any degree, which can significantly increase the amount of time and money you spend on its pursuit. So how do you know which academic avenue to take? Consider your options and the requirements:

Second Associate Degree
If you wish to earn a second associate degree at Thomas Edison State College, and have already earned one at the College or at another regionally accredited institution, you must complete a minimum of 12 additional credits beyond the date your most recent associate degree was completed. You must also satisfy all the requirements of the degree as indicated in the Thomas Edison State College Catalog.

Second Bachelor’s Degree
If you have earned a previous bachelor’s degree, and wish to pursue a second, you must complete a minimum of 24 additional credits in the area of study/core beyond the date your most recent bachelor’s degree was completed. You must also complete all the degree requirements indicated in the Thomas Edison State College Catalog.

If you have earned your first bachelor’s from the College, you must apply again for the second degree, however, your application fee is waived. Whether you earned your first bachelor’s degree at the College or at another institution, the application process still requires an academic evaluation of your transferred credit with room for at least 24 credits relative to your area of study.   

Two Areas of Study Within One Degree
Similar to declaring a double major, you are able to pursue a second area of study within your degree program. For example, you can complete a Bachelor of Arts in History and a Bachelor of Arts in English – you would only need to complete the Area of Study requirements as outlined in the program’s credit distribution guide – because your general education requirements would remain the same (as opposed to pursuing a second degree, where you would need to fulfill another set of general education requirements). No more than 9 credits that are used in the first area of study may be used for the second area of study. All related required credits for each area of study, as well as all degree requirements, must be met at the same time. To pursue this, all you have to do is contact your academic advisor, and it will be added to your degree plan.

Bachelor’s to Master’s Program
As a student at Thomas Edison State College, you are able to earn 9 graduate credits that will apply to both your bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree at the College. If you are serious about earning a master’s degree, this program gives you a 9-credit head start toward that goal. You can apply for the program if you are an enrolled undergraduate student with at least 60 undergraduate credits toward a bachelor’s degree at the College, a minimum 3.0 GPA and at least three years of degree program relevant experience. If admitted, you are eligible to take your first graduate course after you have completed 90 credits toward your undergraduate degree with an overall GPA of 3.0. Learn more about the Bachelor’s to Master’s Program here. 

So you can see, a student would have to complete an additional 24 credits at minimum to complete a second bachelor’s degree. For that reason, whenever students have asked for my advice on the subject, I have always suggested they pursue a Master’s degree. My experience has led me to believe that an employer would rather see a degree progression (i.e. Associate to Bachelor’s to Master’s) than two degrees at the same academic level. If you are willing to put the time and money into pursuing an additional 24 credits for a second bachelor’s, then I would consider it a better use of your resources to pursue a Master’s degree at 36 credits. However, sometimes it is a better move professionally to obtain a second degree. Whatever you choose, always discuss your degree changes, plans and options with your academic advisor. They are there to help you with whichever path you choose.

Tags: Career , Degree Programs , Transfer Credits


Kalen Bruce 10/22/14 9:22 AM

I would love to earn a second degree in an additional financial field. I've always tried to strategically take courses that could be applied to more than one degree, but I know I will have a lot of work to do if I want to obtain a second degree. For now, it would be a second bachelors, but in the future, I would love to have a dual Master's. Thanks for the information.

Rick Anderson 09/09/14 9:12 PM

Some students may be pursuing a second bachelor's instead of a Master's because they do not meet the requirements of the Master's program that they want to get into. For example, if a student wants to get into the finance field and would like to enter the finance Master's program, he/she must have completed many prerequisites that are normally taken when the student completes their bachelor's in finance. However, if that student's current degree program is not in the finance field and they are almost complete with the degree, it is in their best interest to complete their current degree and then apply to enter the finance undergrad degree program. This is especially beneficial if a majority of the students general education credits and free electives from degree one will transfer into degree two. Core curriculum for almost all of the bachelor's programs I have seen require 27 or more credits to complete the degree plus additional credits for electives. This more than satisfies Thomas Edison's 24 new credit policy to be awarded a second bachelor's degree.
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