Four Years, Two Countries, Two Degrees
There are many things to be said about the Dual Degree Program, but among all of them, the most important thing is this:
That’s what brought me to APU.
As an American high school student applying for university, I, like many others around me, had a few vague specifications, but otherwise no idea on how to start the application process. I knew I wanted to study abroad. I wanted to maybe major in international relations, and you know, a double major sounded great as well. With all these in mind and by some stroke of luck, I was lead to the Dual Degree Program between St. Edward’s University (United States) and Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University.
Now, the Dual Degree Program (DUDP) itself is limited to only those in the College of Asia Pacific Studies (APS), but it isn’t just any other “specialized program” you can enter at university—it is way more than that, and at APU, it’s pretty competitive! (Which means it must be pretty awesome, right?) As a part of the DUDP, you spend two years at APU and two years at a university in either Austria, Korea, or the United States. I mean, you’re accomplishing eight years of university study in just four, you get to live in two different places, and lead two different university lives, and most importantly, you get two degrees!
I’m serious—not two majors, but two actual honest to goodness degrees from two different universities. THAT’S AMAZING! (In my case, I will graduate with a bachelor's degree in Global Studies from St. Edward's and a bachelor's degree in Asia Pacific Studies from APU.)
Alright, so how does it actually work?
When you enter your first year at university, you have roughly a semester to decide if it is something you want to do—however, you want to be careful because to have a good application, you will also need good grades to back it up. Once you get through your first semester, this is where the real work begins. The next thing you know you are filling out papers left and right, excitedly researching your new sister school, and making plans to travel halfway around the world.As for the program itself, you spend your first and last years (1st and 4th) at your home university and the middle two years (2nd and 3rd) abroad. Although I can’t actually go into detail on what the curriculum may entail as it varies according to which of the three universities you attend, I do recommend caution. Each university has different requirements, but if you pay attention and stay on top of your schooling, you’ll be fine! In each curriculum, you will be provided with a list of:
From this you will create your schedule each semester to meet your necessary degree requirements. That isn’t to say you can’t take interesting classes outside of your degree, only that there are certain courses you will have to take in order to satisfy the degree requirements of both universities.
In fact, back when I first started university, I knew DUDP was a must for me, so the very first thing I did was get information and physically meet with the program coordinator. From there, I got all the information I needed for the coming months ahead, including the actual application, applying as a “transfer” for my university abroad, and prepping myself for government-related applications such as the student visa. All in all, it was a bit of a long process, but since I started so early, I had plenty of time and much needed help from my coordinator.
Here at APU, there are so many resources I wish I had access to back in the States—to begin with, APU has a study abroad fair that not only showcases the various exchange study opportunities but is also complete with its own Dual Degree booth. I know because I was running it! This annual fair is an invaluable resource for anyone looking to study outside of APU on an exchange program. They set up numerous booths for different exchange locations, and interested students are able to peruse and stop at the booths to speak with students that had previously participated in the exchange program. It is especially helpful when people like me are there to offer you advice (and candy)!
Since officially joining the Dual Degree Program and arriving at APU, I realized what a truly wonderful and special opportunity it is. Not only do I have the support systems from two different universities, but I have the chance to experience so many things I otherwise couldn’t have dreamt of. As a part of the program, I have a real shot at improving my language skills, as well as being exposed to two very different worlds on the same platform—university life. Not many people can claim this and I am beyond happy to be one of the few. Everyone wants a chance to stand out from the crowd, so why not make your mark with a special program like the Dual Degree Program?