Joint and Double Degree Programs In The Global Context

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Front page of the publication.
Front page of the publication

Full title
Joint and double degree programs in the global context: Report on an international survey

This report seeks to expand the knowledge and understanding of international joint and double degree and to address the challenges, opportunities, motivations and impact of developing such programs. This report is based on a survey conducted by the Institute of International Education (IIE) and Freie Universität Berlin in spring 2011. The report examines responses from 245 higher education institutions from 28 different countries. While the report presents findings from a global perspective, it also presents country-specific trends for the top six countries that responded to the survey: Australia, France, Germany, Italy, the UK, and the U.S. When analyzed on a national level, responses from these countries reveal noteworthy differences as well as similarities concerning particular trends in collaborative degree programs.

Authors: OBST, Daniel; KUDER, Matthias; BANKS, Clare

Obst, D., Kuder, M., & Banks, C. (2011). Joint and double degree programs in the global context: Report on an international survey. Institute of International Education.Download

The data represented in this survey report are by no means representative of all countries, nor is it illustrative of all joint and double degree programs in each country. Each program will inevitably be unique to the particular needs of the institutions involved and the circumstances surrounding the partnership. Nevertheless, this report has sought to draw some general conclusions about the current landscape of collaborative degree programs in order to make informed predictions about future trends.

Despite funding issues and challenges in the area of accreditation, joint or double degree program are on the rise. Nearly all survey respondents plan to develop more programs, especially double degrees. While the majority of future international collaborative degree programs will most likely be offered at the master’s level, undergraduate and doctoral joint and double degrees are anticipated to increase in number as well. Similarly, the areas of business and management and engineering are very likely to remain the most popular disciplines for collaborative degree programs. Nevertheless, the way has been paved for other typically less popular subjects to find their path. Anything from fashion to forestry has the potential to find its way onto the transnational degree scene, whether initiated by pre-existing faculty relationships or as a strategic decision by administration.

Future joint and double degree partnerships will be forged between an increasingly wider variety of countries, and it is highly likely that we will see a further rise in joint and double degree programs offered by institutions in China, the U.S., France, India, and Germany. While higher education institutions from some of these countries already lead in joint and double degree program developments, other countries like Brazil, Canada, or Spain may see an increase in collaborative programs in the future. These findings show that a development that largely started in Europe in the 1990s has by now become a global trend and is rapidly spreading to other continents. While English will most likely remain the most common language for such degree programs, language barriers may persist as desired partner countries become more varied. U.S. institutions, for example, in branching out from its more traditional transatlantic partnerships, reported concerns about language issues. However, despite these concerns and others, the majority of responding higher education institutions remain determined to develop more joint and double degree programs with higher education institutions from emerging economies.

The biggest reported challenge for institutions involved in joint and double degree programming is that of ensuring sustainability. In this context, universities tend to point towards lack of funding and relatively small student numbers. While these are two important factors, the survey results also reveal another commonly-shared problem. Most respondents of this survey claim that collaborative programs are an integral part of their university’s internationalization efforts or strategy, yet only about half of all respondents indicated that their institution has particular rules and procedures in place for the development of such programs. Similarly, fewer than half of the responding institutions have developed particular marketing and recruitment measures. According to these findings, a large number of universities either lack a clear strategy with regard to joint and double degree programs or haven’t implemented it yet. This is surprising given that such programs are a significant undertaking for all parties involved and usually more resource intensive than normal study abroad or exchange programs.

Thus, institutions expanding their joint or double degree program portfolios or making their first foray into the world of collaborative study programs would be well advised to establish a clear and comprehensive strategy and guidelines for the development of such programs.


See also