Selecting a college major is often a challenging task. As many as 30 percent of students will change their major at least one time during their undergraduate program. This uncertainty does not disappear once people graduate.
Earning an undergraduate degree can provide you with the tools you need to get started in your career. It is not uncommon, however, for people to realize that they would like to change their career direction. Regardless of whether this shift comes from financial opportunities or a newfound passion, earning a master’s degree can open up many doors for you and make it easier for you to find a new position in your field of choice.
With that in mind, many people want to know if it is possible to earn a master’s degree in a field that is completely different from their undergraduate program. Here is what you need to know about changing your field of study for a graduate school program.
Can you earn a master’s degree in a different field than your bachelor’s degree?
In many cases, yes, you can earn a master’s degree in a field that differs from your undergraduate degree. Many programs appreciate that people who have earned different types of bachelor’s degrees bring unique experiences and areas of expertise to the program. They understand the value that comes from the studies you have already completed, even if the subjects themselves do not overlap.
Typically, you do not need to return to college to earn a second bachelor’s degree. Instead, you can apply to graduate school in pursuit of a master’s degree.
Before you begin working on your master’s in your new field, you will want to carefully investigate the requirements of this new path and the schools that offer your program of interest.
How do I earn a master’s degree in a new field?
Earning a master’s degree in a new field will require some preparation that is dependent upon the area that you want to study. You will want to carefully research the background that graduate schools want to see in the candidates they admit.
As you prepare your application for your chosen program, there are a few steps that you can take to make yourself a more appealing applicant. Here are a few different areas to consider.
Note any important prerequisites
Depending upon the specific area that you want to pursue, you might find that the master’s degree program requires some prerequisites. These courses generally entail particular core classes that are critical for this field of study. If your chosen master’s degree program does have required classes that you did not take in your bachelor’s degree program, then you might be able to fill these requirements through various online schooling or community college options before applying. ACU Online offers several bootcamp options that can be worked into your master’s program itself, so it is wise to speak with your desired school first.
Build your expertise in the field
In addition to making sure that you have your required classes covered, you will also want to demonstrate to the school that you have a genuine interest and understanding of your new career field. If you are making a dramatic career change, taking the time to gain some experience will be well regarded.
Volunteer opportunities or professional experiences that allow you to start obtaining some insight into your newly chosen field can help you create a strong application for your selected program. Remember that although many colleges and universities will happily admit students to master’s degree programs in new fields, you still need to compete with other students for admittance.
The schools want to find the best candidates for this particular degree program, and your competition may have bachelor’s degrees or work experience in the field. You want to create a compelling application that details why you deserve to be there, too.
Similarly, you can also investigate if there are any smaller certifications or courses you can take outside of the college environment that create a convincing case for your interest in this area and your knowledge of the field.
Remember the value of standardized tests
All universities and colleges will differ in their use of standardized tests as a part of their admission process for graduate-level programs. Therefore, you will want to inquire specifically with your desired school to learn about their requirements.
Even if your chosen program does not require specific standardized tests, it may be a good idea to consider any relevant tests for your coveted master’s degree. This can help you demonstrate your knowledge and understanding in your new field of study and makes you stand out from other applicants.
Many schools, like ACU Online, understand that the path towards a master’s degree is not always linear. Students often take different routes to end up in their preferred graduate-level program that will prepare them for their career choice. If you want to earn a master’s degree to advance your career and open new doors for yourself professionally, you do not have to be limited by the area you studied for your bachelor’s degree. A master’s degree can be chosen based on how it complements your experience and the direction you want to take in your career, not necessarily because of how it fits with your undergraduate studies.
Consider the information above to see how you can work to make yourself a more appealing candidate in your chosen master’s field. If you are interested in obtaining your master’s degree, learn more about our offerings, attend an online open house webinar, or contact us today!