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Can I pursue a masters degree in a course other than what I have studied in my bachelor’s degree?

I'm interested in masters courses in community development. I finished my bachelor’s degree in environmental science two years ago and began working with communities. I started thinking of graduate programs in this field. I've researched and settled on the best masters degree. Can I do a masters degree in a different area from what I have majored in my bachelors?

Curtis Rhodes

in Higher Education

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Justin Parker on June 1, 2018

The answer to your question is not definite. Many people have done masters degrees unrelated to what they pursued before. You may need to consider a variety of factors. Plus, the institution you want to enroll in may have different rules of admission to higher degree programs. However, there are rules accepted in almost all universities.

  • If your undergraduate and GRE/MAT/GMAT scores are very high, you can study any of the best masters degrees you want in graduate school in any institution you choose. Additionally, your chosen school will most likely offer you a scholarship to pay your tuition. You may also secure assistance in paying for other college and living expenses in exchange for your services in teaching/ research.
  • If your undergraduate score is above 3.0 and you perform reasonably well on the graduate school entrance exams, you can easily find a university that will accept you in your chosen masters course. The stronger your GPA is, the higher your chances of getting financial help.
  • If your undergraduate GPA is lower than 3.0, you will have a hard time finding a graduate program of your choosing. Moreover, getting your preferred course in one of the top universities will be even harder. However, it is still possible and has been done.
  • Most of these programs offer exceptions for applicants with undergraduate majors in specified subjects. Some have more specific demands while others ask for general courses. However, excellence is still given priority in this case.
  • You might find your desired master’s course accepts applicants with undergraduate majors in any area. There are those programs that require little or basic knowledge of subject area. As long as you meet the minimum score and have a small understanding of the subject area, these programs will accept your application.
  • Select professional masters programs such as medicine, law, engineering and so forth do not take applicants outside their fields. These courses require a good knowledge of the areas of study to pursue your chosen specialist degree.
  • Another group of courses does not give any attention to your bachelor degree major. These programs focus more on your artistic skills. They may include theater, performance arts or creative arts. In this case, where you did your bachelors doesn’t matter. What these programs assess are your abilities in the field you have applying for as they aim to help students perfect these skills. 

Cynthia Baker2 years ago

It's true, acceptance to graduate programs mainly depends on the program itself. The general rule is that the more specialized course is, the harder it is to gain admittance. Therefore, to make a transition, you need to have a very compelling reason to force the admission board to enroll you. Shorter degrees care about your bachelor’s major while longer masters, care less since there is much more time to allow you catch up.

However, if your program is an interdisciplinary study, it’ll likely accept a broader range of undergraduate majors. Such a degree, however, may not guarantee you increased pay. The more mathematics the master’s demands, the more the pay graduates are likely to get. If a degree requires no math or analytical abilities, the result is that you might only get jobs that pay more or less the same as if you just had a bachelor’s. 


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