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Old 02-17-2009, 06:39 AM
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Doing a masters degree without a bachelors - any experience of this?

I donít have a bachelors degree Ė not exactly a thing Iím ashamed of as lots of people donít have one and Iíve done pretty well for myself without. Also given that I work in government the kinds of disciplines one learns in doing a bachelors (besides the subject content, of course) such as constructing arguments, researching, reading around a subject etc are things Iíve already developed to a decent level. So Iíve pootled along without one until now and not really thought about it too much as my progression in my career doesnít require a degree.

However Iíve now got some long-term plans that will make having a tertiary level qualification useful, and I have to date been reticent about doing a part time bachelors because they take so long. I had a conversation with a friend of mine who is a university lecturer and who has talked about the idea of me skipping a bachelors and going straight to a masters degree. I was a little of this because I thought that wasnít possible, but she assures me that if you study in an area you have relevant job experience in then not having a bachelors doesnít have to be an automatic barrier for entry (and as Iím interested in doing something in politics or public policy I should be able to swing that).

Iím starting to look into this a little more seriously now, but wondered if anyone else who has done a masters without doing a bachelors first could chime in with their experience of it, assuming anyone here has. Or is such an idea so completely outlandish that I should be derided for even asking?
Old 02-17-2009, 07:29 AM
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I've had classmates done a DVM without having a bachelor's degree. Granted, they took at least a couple of years of undergraduate courses (basic sciences, math, English) before applying and getting admitted to the program (plus they were from the state the school was).

Maybe that's what your friend says? You may be able to enter, but on condition of doing some introductory courses before doing other graduate-level courses?

Also, keep in mind that you're in London, where the college qualifications may (and do!) change compared to the US.
Old 02-17-2009, 07:44 AM
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I've never heard of doing a masters without a bachelors--but I'm American and my knowledge of grad school is ot as all encompassing as I would like to imagine it is even here. Still,I've got a couple of thoughts to share.

If you are interested, I'd start investigating by talking to an admissions counselor (possibly under another name) about what the requirements would be. I'd be a little surprised if you didn't end up needing to take more classes than someone who already had a bachelor's did, but stranger things have happened.

Mostly, though, (IMO) you need to know whether this masters degree is usually done immediately post-bachelors, or if there are a lot of people who are doing it who have been working (or being stay at home moms) or the like. Lots of non-traditional students.

And do most people getting this sort of master's have bachelors degrees in the same field or not? (Chemical engineering master's usually go to folk with chem e. bachelors. Even the guy with the Chemistry degree needed some remedial coursework. Information Science Master's go to anyone who want them.)

See if you can take a course or two which doesn't require a lot of prior preparation so you can see if it appeals to you.
Old 02-17-2009, 08:06 AM
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It will depend what field you're aiming to work in.

If it's biosciences, for example, you'll need to show clear evidence that you have mastered the level of skills and knowledge a graduate would have. That's going to be pretty specific, and makes life harder.

If you're after a MA in literature, or history etc, then it's a lot more open... if you can show you're able to marshall an argument and write cogently (more importantly, write your name on the tuition cheque!!) and show an genuine level of interest in your chosen area of study, then you should have no problems.

To be honest, if you stump up the tuition fees many places will be happy to keep you on... we had a chap at our college in his 80s who was in the 8th yr of his PHD; he took up very little supervision time, had plenty of savings to pay his fees, so the uni figured "why not?", and let him potter around.
Old 02-17-2009, 08:06 AM
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I'm doing a PhD in Political Science in the Netherlands and I can tell you - as I teach here as well - that I've never heard of anyone getting in the MA program without having a Bachelors. We even require some of the MA students - who have BA degrees - to do extra courses if the examinations commmitte deems them to have a deficiency in one of the subfields of the discipline (comparative politics, IR, dutch politics, statistics, etc.).

Of course things may be different in the UK, if I were you I'd send some e-mails to admissions councelors. (like Eureka advices)
Old 02-17-2009, 09:29 AM
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From my alma matter's website:

Quote:
New Mexico Tech offers three programs that allow students capable of above-average academic achievement to earn both a bachelors and master’s degrees in five years. Through the Department of Earth and Environmental Science, students can earn a bachelor’s degree in Earth science with an environmental geology option and a master’s degree in geology, or a bachelor’s in a science or engineering field and a master’s degree in hydrology. The Department of Mathematics offers a similar opportunity for students majoring in mathematics.
It sounds like you'd like to move faster than that, but it at least shows that there's programs out there. If you can CLEP out of a lot of the introductory classes, you may be able to cut it down to three years.
Old 02-17-2009, 09:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Santo Rugger View Post
New Mexico Tech offers three programs that allow students capable of above-average academic achievement to earn both a bachelors and master’s degrees in five years..
If you do a standard program in Political Science in any dutch university it will take you no more than 4 years...3 years to get your BA and 1 year to get a MA (the bachelors are usually in dutch though, but there might be schools that offer BA programs in English).

Last edited by footballisplayedwithyourfeet; 02-17-2009 at 09:50 AM.
Old 02-17-2009, 09:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wallenstein View Post
If you're after a MA in literature, or history etc, then it's a lot more open... if you can show you're able to marshall an argument and write cogently (more importantly, write your name on the tuition cheque!!) and show an genuine level of interest in your chosen area of study, then you should have no problems.
At least in the US and Canada, that isn't true. I've never heard of anyone doing an MA in history without a BA.
Old 02-17-2009, 10:03 AM
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I used to have a friend who dropped out of college as soon as he got accepted to medical school. He went on to get his MD without having a bachelor's. Of course, he had all of the requisite coursework, he just couldn't be bothered to take that last semester of electives once he knew he was in.

ETA: This was in the US, btw.

Last edited by Alan Smithee; 02-17-2009 at 10:03 AM.
Old 02-17-2009, 10:05 AM
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I don't have any specific advice about this, but I don't think it's impossible, although it certainly won't be straightforward. In some cases, I do know that experience can be used as an equivalent qualification, but you're not going to find out until you write and ask.

Since do you live in the Original London, I would suggest including Birkbeck college in your search; they have several evening and part-time programs: http://bbk.ac.uk/study/pg/politi..._TMRPPMNG.html

Quote:
We encourage applications from students without traditional qualifications and we have a wide range of programmes to suit every entry level.
Old 02-17-2009, 10:23 AM
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From dealing with postgraduate admissions in my work, I can definitely confirm that it is possible to gain a place on a Masters course without the need of a first degree, if one's work experience is deemed equivalent to a Bachelor's.

I have only dealt with postgrad arts courses though, so I can't vouch for MSc courses and the like.
Old 02-17-2009, 10:29 AM
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I'm working on my masters in public policy right now and I can assure you that a bachelor's degree was required by all of the universities to which I applied.

I would suggest writing to the universities you are interested in and explaining the situation. Maybe things are different in Britain.
Old 02-17-2009, 10:43 AM
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I've never heard of this, but there are acclerated BA programs that will allow work and life experience to help finish a BA within 18 months - 2 years, never heard of a ligit one any faster than that. With that in hand it is possible to get into a Masters program, but certainly not just any MA.
Old 02-17-2009, 10:45 AM
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Just tell them you are a "confirmed bachelor" and have all the required experience that goes along with that *wink wink* *nudge nudge*
Old 02-17-2009, 11:24 AM
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I've never heard of this. Most grad programs I've heard of require you have taken certain undergrad courses.
Old 02-17-2009, 08:26 PM
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A H.S. buddy of mine got his Ph.D. from Cal Tech without finishing his bachelor's first. He had dropped out of college after his freshman year, then spent the next, oh, maybe 10 years working for Steven Wolfram on Mathematica, and then gone straight into Cal Tech - he is really a genius, so he probably isn't what you might call a typical case.

Most grad programs I've seen word their admissions requirement as "bachelor's degree or the equivalent," so in theory, at least, there is some wiggle room. My master's degree (Russian & East European Studies) is in a totally different field from my bachelor's degree (Spanish), but then that was the case with many of my grad classmates, who often had life experiences relevant to the field (military, Peace Corps, etc.) rather than a 100% related bachelor's degree.

The answer: it depends.
Old 02-17-2009, 09:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eva Luna View Post
A H.S. buddy of mine got his Ph.D. from Cal Tech without finishing his bachelor's first. He had dropped out of college after his freshman year, then spent the next, oh, maybe 10 years working for Steven Wolfram on Mathematica, and then gone straight into Cal Tech - he is really a genius, so he probably isn't what you might call a typical case.

Most grad programs I've seen word their admissions requirement as "bachelor's degree or the equivalent," so in theory, at least, there is some wiggle room. My master's degree (Russian & East European Studies) is in a totally different field from my bachelor's degree (Spanish), but then that was the case with many of my grad classmates, who often had life experiences relevant to the field (military, Peace Corps, etc.) rather than a 100% related bachelor's degree.

The answer: it depends.
Most of the grad schools I've seen require, depending on what you're going for, you have taken certain coursework. You don't necessarily need to have an undergrad degree in that field but you will probably need to have taken certain courses in order to be admitted. The school I was looking at (UMaine if you care) has conditional admittance that as long as you complete X undergrad courses they'll let you in.
Old 02-17-2009, 10:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xan View Post
Most of the grad schools I've seen require, depending on what you're going for, you have taken certain coursework. You don't necessarily need to have an undergrad degree in that field but you will probably need to have taken certain courses in order to be admitted. The school I was looking at (UMaine if you care) has conditional admittance that as long as you complete X undergrad courses they'll let you in.
Absolutely. In fact, I have a number of friends who intend to go on to medical school but are theatre, art, music, or English majors; they're hoping that their degree in other fields will separate them from the gigantic field of other applicants. They've taken all the advanced courses in biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics that the med schools require, though. Likewise, I know that grad schools occasionally require their students to take undergrad courses in areas they're deficient in, so you might get into grad school and be required to catch up a little.

I suppose a grad school might accept someone without a BA if they had taken the majority of the required coursework with excellent grades and had some really wonderful experience. But in this economy, lots and lots of recent college grads are applying to grad schools since there aren't many good jobs, and you'll have extremely stiff competition.
Old 02-18-2009, 08:10 AM
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Originally Posted by appleciders View Post
I suppose a grad school might accept someone without a BA if they had taken the majority of the required coursework with excellent grades and had some really wonderful experience. But in this economy, lots and lots of recent college grads are applying to grad schools since there aren't many good jobs, and you'll have extremely stiff competition.
My suspicion is that the grad school is more likely to accept someone without a BA if it's been a while since that person acquired most of the coursework so that getting the paperwork is not worth the hassle. If you have little or no coursework, persuading someone that you are so special you should get to skip the BA is likely to be a uphill battle. But I could be wrong.
Old 05-16-2012, 08:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Staggerlee View Post
From dealing with postgraduate admissions in my work, I can definitely confirm that it is possible to gain a place on a Masters course without the need of a first degree, if one's work experience is deemed equivalent to a Bachelor's.

I have only dealt with postgrad arts courses though, so I can't vouch for MSc courses and the like.


I have been accepted to a masters program (MFA) without doing my bachelors (BFA) because Ive got the equivalency to a bachelors with my previous college program. Will this set me back, will schools not accept me(to be a teacher) because i didn't do the traditional bachelors to masters? should I do this straight to masters or go for my bachlors then masters?
Old 05-16-2012, 08:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Santo Rugger View Post
From my alma matter's website:



It sounds like you'd like to move faster than that, but it at least shows that there's programs out there. If you can CLEP out of a lot of the introductory classes, you may be able to cut it down to three years.
Stanford does the same thing, at least in the Engineering School. It goes by the odd term of "coterminal".
Old 05-16-2012, 08:48 PM
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Originally Posted by John Mace View Post
Stanford does the same thing, at least in the Engineering School. It goes by the odd term of "coterminal".
MIT had something like this also, that went with industrial internships, and which a lot of people did.
I suspect it would be easier to pull off with 78 semesters completed than with no semesters completed, though.

I do know someone who went to college without a high school degree - but she almost finished, the high school was Music and Art in NY, the college was MIT, and she had 800s in math and verbal and in all achievement tests.

Many graduate departments are a lot more flexible than undergraduate ones, since they make the admission decisions, not the admissions office.
Old 05-16-2012, 10:21 PM
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I am doing my MA now and don't have an undergrad degree. I applied for flexible entry, and they considered the education I do have (two, two year diplomas) and my work experience (about 7 years in a career related to my MA). In our class of ~40, there are only two of us that are flexible entry/don't have an undergrad degree.

I am in Canada, and am currently at Royal Roads University in Victoria, BC. It is a thesis based Masters program.

That said, I am doing an MA, not an MSc. I think if I were to go for a science based masters it would have been a lot tougher to get in without an undergrad degree.
Old 05-16-2012, 10:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Freemanf View Post
I have been accepted to a masters program (MFA) without doing my bachelors (BFA) because Ive got the equivalency to a bachelors with my previous college program. Will this set me back, will schools not accept me(to be a teacher) because i didn't do the traditional bachelors to masters? should I do this straight to masters or go for my bachlors then masters?
This is why you should start your own thread rather than piggybacking on a zombie thread. As you can see everybody is answering the two year old question and not yours.
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