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Want to Change Careers? These Master’s Programs Offer the Smoothest Jump

Photo by Louish Pixel / flickr

Just in case you’ve been feeling like you want to switch careers, but without a degree or day of experience in the field, you thought you’d be too far behind, read on. I’ve compiled a list of master’s programs that don’t require you to have a bachelor’s in the field or, in some cases, relevant work experience.

Of course, without a bachelor’s degree, you’ll have little to show for why you stand out among everyone else applying to your master’s program. So I suggest doing the following:

  • Complete any prerequisite courses the program requires. This could take you a few months to 1 year, depending on how many you need.
  • Volunteer, if at all possible (even for 2-3 hours once per week) in the new field of your choice. Having real-world experience to talk about will help you greatly in your Personal Statement or Interview.
  • Express in your Personal Statement why you’re passionate about entering the new field. This could be because of a realization you had, a first-hand experience, a life-changing event, etc. It’s always best to show that you have spent some time in the field, either by shadowing or volunteering, because you’ll have concrete experiences to talk about.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, here is a list of master’s programs most accepting of out-of-field applicants:

Master’s in Architecture (MArch)
Many masters-level architecture programs, including those at University of Washington (Seattle) and University of Pennsylvania, accept people with unrelated bachelor’s degrees. In fact, University of Colorado – Denver says that about half the students attending the MArch program have unrelated degrees. MArch programs are usually 3 years for students with different backgrounds and 2 years for those with the related BArch.

Master’s in Business (MBA)
Many MBA programs, including USC Marshall School of Business accept students from a broad range of academic and professional backgrounds. At Pepperdine University (California), 66 percent of its MBA applicants are non-business majors. Most programs expect you to have 2 years of relevant work experience. Top-rated Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, requires applicants to have six prerequisites (18 credits) and doesn’t accept online courses.

Master’s in Counseling Psychology
These programs rarely care what your undergrad degree was in but most require you to take 12-15 credits (which is 4-5 undergraduate psychology classes) prior to applying. The list of prerequisite classes varies depending on the program.

Master’s in Human Resources
The M.S. program at the University of Rhode Island says that undergraduate majors in any field are considered. Michigan State University’s Master of Human Resources and Labor Relations states that an applicant’s undergraduate major is not a factor in admissions but requires three prerequisite courses (in microeconomics, behavioral science, and statistics). Also, applicants with 3 or more years of meaningful work experience can apply without submitting GRE or GMAT test results.

Master’s in Interior Design
Pratt Institute’s (Brooklyn, NY) M.S. in Interior Design program accepts students with unrelated undergrad degrees. The program is 3 years for people with unrelated backgrounds and 2 years for those with degrees in interior design, architecture, or other closely related design fields.

Master’s in Journalism
If you’re a great writer, it does not matter what your bachelor’s degree is in. Technically, you could pitch a killer story idea to a magazine and land an assignment tomorrow, and your unique background may even set you apart in a diluted pool of writers (ex: a Computer Science major turned journalist may score clips at Wired faster than one without computer know-how). In one example, Columbia University’s master’s degree in journalism states that it “does not require applicants to have a specific major or take prerequisite courses to apply.” With this said, aspiring journalists don’t need an MA to break into the field, just published clips, and to do that, you can take classes at for far less money.

Master’s in Nursing (MSN)
It used to be that you couldn’t become a nurse without a bachelor’s in nursing (BSN). However, given recent trends — aging baby boomers and a large number of nurses looking to retire — there is expected to be a 26% growth in registered nurse jobs by 2020. Colleges are adjusting, and some are creating accelerated master’s programs as a way to meet the demand. The University of Arizona’s College of Nursing offers an accelerated Master’s Entry to the Profession of Nursing (MEPN) program and is advertising its attraction to career changers. The good news: It doesn’t require the GRE (don’t you love when that happens?), but you’ll have to take eight prerequisite courses, including labs, prior to applying. I don’t know too much about how the nursing community views master’s level graduates who have had little time in the field, so be sure to ask any real nurses you know before making a final decision.

Master’s in Social Work (MSW)
Usually accepts students from a range of different fields and many don’t list prerequisites, meaning you could start your MSW application today. The only difference is that it will take you 2 years to complete the program and only 1 year for students who have the bachelor’s in social work (BSW).

With this list, you can stand proudly behind your bachelor’s degree, and within a short amount of time and a few undergraduate classes, start to becoming anything from a journalist, college student affairs adviser, counselor, social worker, business manager, human resource manager, registered nurse, architect, interior designer, editor, and much more.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. What about a masters or PHD in environmental chemistry?

    November 13, 2015
  2. Hi what about a masters in environmental science?

    November 13, 2015

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