Completing a four-year undergrad program plus another two years of grad school can feel endless. If you’re looking to jump into the workforce sooner, can you skip undergrad entirely? Can you really get a master’s degree without a bachelor’s degree?
While it’s fairly uncommon, it’s certainly possible to get a master’s without a bachelor’s. Read on to learn about various processes, requirements, and some of the best schools offering this opportunity.
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Do You Need a Bachelor’s to Get a Master’s?
A bachelor’s degree is the minimum prerequisite for admittance to most master’s programs, and in many cases, you’ll need a relevant undergraduate qualification in a related field. This is because a master’s degree is designed to build on the foundational knowledge and skills gained during an undergraduate program.
There are exceptions, as some universities and grad schools offer master’s programs for students without a bachelor’s degree. To compensate for an applicant’s lack of an undergrad degree, these types of programs typically look for extensive work experience in a relevant field.
Some programs combine bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Others are master’s programs that admit students who already have a bachelor’s degree (but from an unrelated field).
What Kinds of Master’s Degrees Can You Get Without a Bachelor’s Degree?
Three main types of master’s programs accept students who don’t have a bachelor’s:
1. Combined Programs
Another way to earn your master’s as quickly as possible is to enroll in a combined program. These programs cover both bachelor’s and master’s coursework, so students work towards the two degrees concurrently and gain both qualifications in a shorter amount of time.
Generally, combined programs last around five years (compared to six years for standard bachelor’s and master’s programs).
2. Master’s Degrees That Don’t Require Specific Bachelor’s
Several master’s degree programs accept applicants who possess a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated field. This might be a good solution if you want to switch fields and pursue a graduate degree in a different discipline. An example would be Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs, which simply require you to have a bachelor’s in any field.
Some schools also offer “bridge” programs. These let you qualify for a master’s program in a technical field that usually requires a specific undergraduate qualification (e.g., computer science). These intensive programs help you build the necessary skills and knowledge to pursue a master’s in a new field. They typically last a year.
3. Master’s Without Any Bachelor’s
While it’s less common, you can also earn a master’s degree without a bachelor’s degree. These are typically designed for established professionals with substantial experience in their field. Some programs recognize work experience in lieu of undergraduate studies, while others consider associate degree credits.
The specific requirements can vary, including the years of experience, so be sure to check with the school. Gaining admission to these programs may also involve completing a short bridge program.
Universities That Offer Master’s Without Bachelor’s Programs
We’ve rounded up some of the top master’s programs that you can apply to – without having a bachelor’s in the field. These include:
programs don’t require a specific undergraduate degree
programs that don’t require any bachelor’s degree.
Combined Master’s and Bachelor’s Programs
These programs allow you to earn your undergraduate and master’s qualifications concurrently, saving you significant time, energy, and – possibly – money.
Pennsylvania State University, Smeal College of Business
Smeal College is well-known for its programs in finance and business, and it’s consistently named among the top 10 research institutions in the world. This five-year Master of Accounting (MAcc) program combines undergraduate and graduate courses in its fourth and fifth years, furnishing graduates with their CPA licenses.
Courses: Managerial accounting, business intelligence, and international taxes.
Though it’s a well-known Jesuit Catholic institution in Chicago, Loyola University accepts students from all backgrounds. Impressively, 92% of their faculty have the highest qualification in their discipline. Students can combine this Master’s in Statistics with an undergraduate program from any related field (e.g., mathematics, statistics).
Courses: introduction to applied statistics, probability & statistics, and applied regression analysis.
Boston University is a renowned private institution that’s well-known for its inclusive, urban campus. This program aims to equip students with high-level skills in computer science theory, software systems, and applications to address challenges in the field.
Courses: Concepts of programming languages, computer systems, and machine learning.
Dallas Baptist University is an esteemed Christ-centered institution that aims to combine faith and academic excellence. The program is designed to give students a solid basis in English and advanced skills for post-secondary education.
Marquette University’s College of Nursing boasts nationally-recognized faculty and a small student-teacher ratio. This program accepts applicants with bachelor’s degrees in other fields. Through coursework, hands-on lab work, and clinical studies, the program will prepare students to sit the NCLEX-RN exam.
Courses: essentials for nursing practice, ethics, policy & health care advocacy, as well as community and population health nursing.
One of the top public universities in the country, Stockton University follows an interdisciplinary approach and emphasizes student diversity. It also offers some master’s degrees that don’t require specific bachelor’s degrees (such as this program). This MA teaches students how to use advanced instructional technology to improve learning and training.
Courses: technology and learning, media design & evaluation, and integrating technology into the curriculum.
Drexel University is a private university that’s famous for blending classroom study with real-life practical experience across more than 75 disciplines. This five-year program provides a graduate degree in strategic & digital communication, as well as an undergraduate qualification in marketing.
Courses: composition and rhetoric, global marketing, and international negotiations.
William Woods is a private university in Missouri with over 3,500 students from 25 countries. You don’t need a bachelor’s degree to enroll in this online Master of Instructional Technology. However, you must be a professional currently working in the field (such as a school teacher or business trainer) and be able to demonstrate that the program will help you advance your career.
Courses: digital tools for academic programs, instructional design with technology, and appraisal of student learning.
CUNY School of Professional Studies is a public institution with an emphasis on consistently highly-ranked online programs. They offer an online master’s program without a bachelor’s requirement. Nursing professionals are equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to assess institutional data needs, handle data efficiently, and improve patient care.
Courses: Nursing informatics, advanced nursing informatics, and nursing informatics applications.
Monterey College of Law is a private, non-profit school that provides quality legal education. This master’s program is designed for professionals who want to enhance their knowledge of the American legal system but do not wish to become practicing lawyers. To be eligible, applicants will need 60 semester units (or 90 quarter units) of completed college credits.
Courses: criminal law, constitutional law, and legal writing & analysis.
Benefits of Earning a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree Together
There are several advantages of pursuing a combined bachelor’s and master’s program:
Combined programs allow students to gain both a bachelor’s and master’s qualification in less time than if they studied two consecutive programs. This means getting into the workforce and earning money sooner!
As you’ll be in school for a shorter amount of time, you’ll pay less tuition and have fewer overall educational fees and expenses.
Moving from a bachelor’s to a master’s program can be challenging. However, as part of a combined program, students typically take courses from both degrees simultaneously, making this transition seamless.
After completing a combined degree, you’ll have both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree on your resume. This will give you an edge over other job seekers who only have undergraduate qualifications.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which University Master’s Programs Don’t Require a Bachelor’s Degree?
Various universities – including Boston University, Drexel University, and Penn State – offer master’s programs combined with bachelor’s. Many also offer master’s programs that accept applicants with bachelor’s degrees in an unrelated field.
A limited number of schools – such as the City University of New York, William Woods University, and Monterey College of Law – accept applicants with no bachelor’s degree at all.
What Is a Bachelor and Master Combined Program?
A combined program allows you to earn bachelor’s and master’s qualifications together in a single program, saving you time and money compared to completing both programs separately. These programs are available in various disciplines, including engineering, business, and education.
Do You Need a Bachelor’s Degree To Get an MBA?
A bachelor’s degree is an essential prerequisite for most MBA programs. However, some schools offer bridge programs, allowing you to join the MBA after completing a foundational course. Some executive MBA programs will also consider professional work experience in place of an undergraduate qualification.
Can I Get a Master’s Degree Without a Bachelor’s?
There are a few different ways you can get a master’s without a bachelor’s. A small number of programs will consider substantial professional experience instead of an undergraduate degree. If you have enough experience, you may be accepted into the program based on this (though the requirements are usually quite tough).
Another way to get your master’s degree is to enroll in a combined program that allows you to complete your graduate degree alongside your undergrad studies. Finally, if you have an undergraduate degree in an unrelated field, look for schools that will accept a bachelor’s in any discipline (or those that offer bridge programs).