The Dual Degree in Nursing Program

I think it is my duty to write a bit about this awesome program which I am a part of called the Dual Degree in Nursing (DDN) program at the University of Rochester.

What is the DDN program?

As the title infers, students of the DDN program receive two degrees—one of their choice and a second for nursing, over the course of five years. DDN students fulfill standard major and cluster requirements and a few nursing prerequisites on the River Campus for seven semesters (basically until halfway through senior year). Technically by this time, a DDN student has graduated. Students then spend three more semesters at the nursing school on campus. In short, the DDN program is really cool.

What are your classes like?

Check out this in-action photo below of me in class. I’m the one smiling on the left.


Just kidding. This is a photograph from a book I picked up while in the lobby for my interview at Rochester. It kind of reminded me of why I was there and inspired me just before I went in to meet my interviewer.

But that’s beside the point. My classes now are not oriented toward my nursing degree yet. I have decided to major in public health (as part of health, behavior, and society) so for the moment I am focusing on taking classes related to that major. I am also taking dance classes for one of my clusters (possibly a minor).

That said, as a DDN student, your first few years of college will consist of whichever classes you enjoy! Whether that is public health, English, biology, anthropology, etc., you can pick courses that apply to your first degree and your clusters. There is no obligation to choose a degree that coincides with nursing—seriously, study whatever you like! You will, however, have some prerequisites to take before you transition to the School of Nursing.

What are these prerequisites you keep mentioning?

You can major and cluster in anything you like, but there are some basic skills and knowledge that the School of Nursing wants you to master before you are a student there. There are five courses for you to take while a River Campus student: Social and Emotional Development, Human Anatomy and Physiology, Nutrition, Statistics, and Microbiology. You can check out a sample schedule for more details. You may take any combination of these as actual courses on the River Campus, or you may take them online as part of the Nursing School. I am personally doing half on campus and half online, so I still have room to fulfill my major and cluster (possibly minor) requirements. It’s up to you!

Why did you choose this program?

I have type I diabetes, which is sometimes a stigmatized disease. As a younger kid, I felt embarrassed about having to sit out of gym or having to eat a snack when other kids weren’t. However, I am very lucky to have grown up surrounded by very encouraging people: my parents, my brother, my diabetes educator, and fellow diabetics whom I met at a diabetes camp. All of these influential people in my life taught me to be proud of my diabetes, and I think that is one of the most valuable lessons I will ever learn.

But I am determined to pass on that lesson to many, many diabetics. So this is why I chose the DDN program: I want to make a difference as a diabetes educator. I felt that a dual-degree program was an interesting way to learn all the skills required to really impact someone’s life; I have time to learn multiple interests that might help me better achieve that goal. I can receive a liberal arts degree as well as a professional degree.

How can I apply? (Because you should apply!)

Basically I wanted to inform you about this program because I think it is such a neat opportunity to explore more than just one major, one career path, one direction of interest. Imagine this: We have this awesome program, but there are only two, I repeat, two freshman students in the program. So just remember that this opportunity is available and amazing.

To apply, there is a supplementary essay in the Common App or Universal College App to write in addition to your application to Rochester. You have to complete it by December 1.


Don’t miss out on the opportunity to take more cheesy photos like me!

I hope that helps for any of you who are interested! Please contact me if you have any questions or concerns:

About the author

Charlotte Pillow

I am a member of the Class of 2019. I am originally from Ridgewood, NJ. I am a student in the Dual Degree in Nursing program. I am majoring in nursing, public health, and interdisciplinary dance studies, and minoring in psychology. I am the president of the College Diabetes Network and a research assistant at the School of Nursing. For the 2017 spring semester, I studied public health at the University of Oxford.


Leave a comment
  • This is a super cool program, and a great opportunity!! If I was interested in nursing I would definitely apply! I wish you all the luck in your endeavors to earn both of your very prestigious degrees!

    • Thank you, William. If there is a specific program of interest to you, let me know and we can investigate further!

  • Hey, Charlotte Pillow
    Thanks for you’r post it was really helpful. I applied for the DDN program and kind on knew what I was going into, but this helped me out even more. My store is very much similar to yours, nursing has been very personal to me. Growing up in Africa was a challenge but I want to help out those who are unfortunate and I can do it with this degree.
    Again thanks for the post looking forward to hearing from the school.

    • Hey Halima,

      That is so inspiring to hear! I can tell you are a rockstar. I am happy to help- if you think of any more questions, let me know!

  • Well as far as your nursing program goes they are pretty similar. However the four-year degree has a lot more academics such as theories of nursing. I guess the general thought is it’s a more rounded education. That being said the nursing portion of it is equal and two year students or four year students come out with the same nursing knowledge and take the same nursing exam. It is becoming however more popular for nurses to have a four year BSN degree and start phasing out the two-year degree. I have been a nurse with my BSN for 20 years and this is what I have seen.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.