Investing in your education can seem intimidating; if you have myriad interests, want to change jobs, or are just looking to pursue a career in a more lucrative field, you may wonder whether you can get a master's degree if your bachelor's degree is in another field. Many colleges and universities present academic tracks as straight and narrow paths leading to a handful of careers. In reality, you have options when it comes to your academic career, and you don't always need a certain bachelor's degree to qualify for your intended master's program. Whether you're a first-time student pursuing your dream job or a seasoned business executive looking to branch out into a different field, getting a master's degree can be a great way to meet your goals in life.
Bachelor's vs. Master's: Re-evaluating Goals
Consider the person you were when you earned your bachelor's degree. In some cases, that 18-year-old student who was unsure of her academic interests or life goals picked a major because she didn't know what else to do. Perhaps your bachelor's degree was the result of pressure from school or parents, or the outcome of a passion no longer present. Now faced with an unforgiving job market or more realistic life goals, you may realize that you wish to shift your career path. Or perhaps a professional who has worked for awhile may decide that a complete career change is in order, and is looking to master another field. This new-found maturity, career goal, or life re-evaluation should be viewed positively and courageously. The New York Times reports that passion and experience are even more important than the actual major, so if you can show passion for and interest in a new field, your undergraduate degree may prove to be less of an obstacle than it may seem. In most cases, getting a master's degree in a new field is very possible, and while someone with a bachelor's degree from another field may have to take a few courses to qualify for certain master's degree programs, the career shift can be done.
Prerequisites for a Master's Degree
Should you major in business and work toward an MBA or choose a career in therapy by majoring in psychology and earning a master's in the field? If you're interested in both subjects, then you should feel free to pursue both. In an article on graduate school and career goals, blogger Ainsley notes that a lot of programs will accept students with varying undergraduate degrees. In fact, many schools prefer people with different backgrounds because career paths aren't homogeneous. As long as you have a bachelor's degree at all, most schools will only require certain prerequisites to complete a master's degree.
What are these prerequisites? The answer depends on your program of choice. Business schools stress strong communication skills, teamwork and innovative marketing solutions. If your background includes a bachelor's degree in English Literature, then you already possess strong communication skills and possibly teamwork from paper collaboration. The school may ask you to complete additional coursework in marketing to make up the deficit, but this additional coursework could be worked into your master's program so that you don't waste time going back to school for an additional undergraduate degree. When you talk to your prospective school, ask specifically if you can get a master's degree if your bachelor's is in another field, because the admissions adviser will be able to steer you in the right direction.
If the career you're pursuing is very different from your background– you have a bachelor's in art, for example, but you want to go into healthcare– take time to expose yourself to the new field. Volunteer at a local hospital or hospice, take a summer course in CPR, or interview a nurse or doctor. See Top 10 Best Online Master's in Healthcare Administration for more information about online master's degrees in healthcare. The more interest you show in your potential career, the better chance you have of convincing master's degree programs of your capability in the field.