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Doubts and Dilemmas with Double Degree Programs

Dudas y conflictos en torno a los programas de grado doble


The number and types of international joint, double and consecutive degree programs have sky-rocketed in the last five years, demonstrating that they clearly have a role in the current landscape of higher education. For many academics and policy makers, double and joint degree programs are welcomed as a natural extension of exchange and mobility programs. For others, they are perceived as a troublesome development leading to double counting of academic work and the thin edge of academic fraud. A broad range of reactions exist due to the diversity of program models; the involvement of new (bona fide and rogue) and traditional providers; the uncertainty related to quality assurance and qualifications recognition; and finally, the ethics involved in deciding what academic workload or new competencies are required for the granting of joint, double, multiple or consecutive degrees.

This article aims to clarify the confusion about the differences between a joint, a double and a consecutive degree program by providing a conceptual framework of definitions. It provides highlights from recent research surveys and studies, and looks at new developments and innovations in establishing these types of collaborative programs. Finally, it examines the factors that challenge the operationalization of the programs and explores those issues that raise doubts and dilemmas and require further debate and analysis.


Los programas de grado conjunto, doble y consecutivo han experimentado un extraordinario crecimiento en los últimos cinco años, tanto en su número como en su tipología, lo cual demuestra sin lugar a dudas que tienen un papel en el actual panorama de la educación superior. Una gran parte del mundo académico y los responsables del diseño de políticas acogen con satisfacción los programas de grado doble y de grado conjunto en tanto que ampliaciones naturales de los programas de intercambio y movilidad. Otros los consideran un desarrollo problemático que puede llevar a un doble cómputo del trabajo universitario y ser un primer paso en el fraude académico. La diversidad de modelos de programas, la participación de proveedores nuevos (reconocidos y fraudulentos) y tradicionales, la incertidumbre en torno al aseguramiento de la calidad y el reconocimiento de títulos, y, por último, los aspectos éticos implicados en la decisión de qué cargas de trabajo universitario o qué nuevas competencias son necesarias para conceder los grados conjuntos, dobles, múltiples o consecutivos dan lugar a una gran diversidad de reacciones.

El objetivo de este artículo es aclarar la confusión sobre las diferencias entre los programas de grado conjunto, doble y consecutivo, para lo que aportamos un marco conceptual de definiciones. Presentaremos informaciones destacadas procedentes de estudios y sondeos recientes, y examinaremos nuevos desarrollos e innovaciones en el establecimiento de este tipo de programas colaborativos. Finalmente, revisaremos los factores que dificultan la operatividad de los programas y exploraremos los aspectos que plantean dudas y conflictos y que requieren un debate y un análisis más profundos.

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Correspondence to Jane Knight.

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Knight, J. Doubts and Dilemmas with Double Degree Programs. Int J Educ Technol High Educ 8, 297–312 (2011).

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  • double degree programs
  • joint degree program
  • consecutive degree program
  • quality assurance
  • qualifications recognition
  • internationalization

Palabras clave

  • programas de grado doble
  • programa de grado conjunto
  • programa de grado consecutivo
  • garantía de calidad
  • reconocimiento de títulos
  • internacionalización