Combined Degree Programs
When looking for faster ways to earn a master's degree, individuals can consider combined bachelor's and master's degree programs or accelerated professional master's degree programs. 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
- Political science
- Public health administration
- 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 degree in another, provided that coursework and electives taken in the bachelor's program support the master's program.
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 undergraduate 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.
Accelerated Professional Programs
For individuals who already have a bachelor's degree and want to earn a professional master's degree, there are some programs that allow individuals to finish their degrees in less than the standard amount of time. For instance, programs that typically require two years of full study may be completed in only one year. Some of these programs enable individuals to finish their master's degree by providing a rigorous, faster-paced academic environment where students simply finish more work in a shorter amount of time. Other accelerated programs are only available to students who have previously demonstrated competence in advanced topics, so they are able to skip over some of the introductory coursework.
Some of the degrees that are available in accelerated formats include:
- Master of Business Administration
- Master of Public Administration
- Master of Social Work
Students who want to get their master's degree as quickly as possible have two options: either they earn a combined bachelor's and master's degree, or they enroll in an accelerated, stand-alone professional graduate program. In either case, students can expect a more intense tenure of study since requirements must be completed in a condensed time frame.