MS & PhD Dual Degree Accelerated Programs

Oct 03, 2019

This article explores dual degree accelerated programs in which students earn both an MS and a PhD in their fields of study. Some fields are rare to find these programs, while others, like engineering, are quite common.

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Accelerated dual degree programs in which a student can earn a master's degree and a Ph.D. simultaneously or consecutively are not very common due to study requirements and the accelerated pace of learning required. There are a few fields of study where dual degrees are available, which see students gain a master's and a Ph.D. in a quicker time than if both programs were taken separately.

Dual MS to Ph.D. Programs Examples

Geography

Students who choose to do a dual degree program in geography can complete the coursework in around 5 years. Coursework may include geographic information science, data analytics, and environmental impacts and there may be a thesis option available. Generally, students will have at least two faculty advisors and they will need to register intent to continue with the Ph.D. portion of the program. If they choose not to continue, as long as they have satisfied the coursework requirements, they can graduate with a master's degree.

Speech-Language Pathology

Dual degrees awarding students with an MS and a Ph.D. are available in Speech-Language Pathology. Programs last around 3 years as opposed to the normal 6-10 to achieve a master's and then a Ph.D. Dual programs in this discipline integrate the master's and Ph.D. level courses and so both programs are completed concurrently. They also have a clinical research component. Coursework may include subjects such as audiology, phonetics, aural rehabilitation, and language acquisition and will require a thesis, dissertation, or research project.

Nursing

Schools offering accelerated Master of Nursing to Ph.D. programs (MSN-PhD) allow students with a Bachelor in Nursing (BSN) to complete a program in as little as five years. Schools often require students to have gained a minimum GPA during their BSN, and in addition may need to have clinical experience, a CPR certification, letters of recommendation, and a current RN license. After students graduate with a dual MSN-PhD, they tend to be in high demand for nursing-specific teaching colleges, medical schools with undergraduate nursing programs, and other academic opportunities. Courses offered in this program may include advanced pharmacology, advanced specialty coursing in the specific field of nursing, clinical research, and epistemology.

Computer Science

Accelerated dual degrees in computer science are available to students who already hold a bachelor's degree in computer science or related field, and who wish to gain a Ph.D. As part of the program, students will gain their master's first, in addition to starting a portfolio, which is a requirement to graduate. They may need to pass qualifying exams to show they are ready to continue with the Ph.D. portion. If students are not ready or do not pass the requirements to start the net level of the program, they can graduate with a master's degree. Examples of courses in this program might be advanced algorithms, computational analysis, programming languages, and secured systems.

Engineering

Many schools accept undergraduates for dual MS to Ph.D. programs in engineering. Students will generally be allocated at least two advisors and they must complete the qualifying exams and dissertation coursework at a minimum, but some schools also require students to complete a master's thesis project. Coursework may involve graduate level mathematics, physics, and applied engineering classes. However, the bulk of coursework will be spent on research projects assigned by the students' mentors and faculty advisors. The scope of the research is largely determined by the university's facilities and budget.

Program Admittance Requirements

To gain admittance into a dual MS and Ph.D. program, students must have exemplary academic records. Generally, a 3.0 in their major field is the standard for acceptance, although these programs are highly competitive and the GPAs of those accepted may end up being significantly higher than this. Students must demonstrate in their senior years of undergraduate school that they are capable of doing coursework and research at the graduate level and letters of recommendation confirming this are usually required. Some schools will also require letters of recommendation before students can continue with the Ph.D. portion of the program. GRE/TOEFL scores are also required as a standard practice for entrance into any graduate-level program. Because many MS-PhD dual degrees require the mentorship of two advisors, students must be academically able to concentrate on two focuses, one at least with each advisor.

Dual MS to Ph.D. programs allow students to earn both an MS and a Ph.D. in a condensed timeframe. If students find themselves unable to complete the Ph.D. level requirements, they can still matriculate with a master's degree in their field. Dual degree programs also offer a breadth of concentration options for students as well as the experience of more than one advisor.

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