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Accelerated Masters Degree Programs: How Do They Work?

Accelerated master's degrees are condensed programs that allow you to complete a master's degree in about half the time. Find more information on accelerated master's programs, how long they take and fields of study.

Accelerated Master's Degree: Overview

One type of accelerated master's degree program includes the 4+1 degree program, which is a combined bachelor's/master's program designed to allow students to complete requirements for a bachelor's and master's degree simultaneously. Students typically begin satisfying requirements for graduate-level work at the beginning of their fourth year of study. These accelerated master's degree programs are available on campus, online or through a combination of the two.

Accelerated bachelor's/master's degree programs typically take five years to complete, which is less than the 6-7 years it takes to earn separate bachelor's and master's degrees. Even though these accelerated master's degree programs can be completed quickly, these programs still require students to complete the same amount of coursework given in traditional programs, just in a shorter period of time. Credits for required courses normally cannot be double counted toward both degrees.

Fields of Study

Combined bachelor's/master's degree programs are available in a wide variety of disciplines, including computer science, economics, English, nursing, philosophy, political science, psychology, public health administration, engineering and teacher education. While students typically major in the same field for both the bachelor's and master's degree, some programs allow students to complete a bachelor's degree in one field and a master's program in another, provided that coursework and electives taken in the bachelor's program support the master's program.

Program Eligibility

Students accepted into these accelerated master's degree programs must fulfill the requirements for both degree programs. Additionally, students usually apply to the two programs separately, applying to the undergraduate program near the start of undergrad studies, and then applying to the graduate degree program around the junior year of undergrad studies. Eligibility requirements vary per program, so individuals should see their advisors prior to applying to the accelerated program.

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