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Getting into a masters in a different discipline to undergrad

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    Hi all,

    Sorry if this comes up all the time but I want to do a masters in environmental science/sustainability and my undergrad was in Chinese and History (2:1). I've been looking at various degrees and most of them (particularly those in continental universities) all say that you need a relevant undergrad. I've been told before that I would be able to get into a masters of a different discipline, does anyone know?

    Thanks
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    I think you'll find it very difficult, if not even impossible to do an MA in Environmental Science/Sustainability. This mainly has to do with the fact that it's a science based degree and your undergrad is based on social sciences, which are pretty unrelated. With your current undergraduate degree you would be able to do an MA in a different discipline, but it would nevertheless have to be something related to social sciences. Different areas of learning require different sets of skills and former knowledge, which is why I'd imagine you probably currently don't have the right skill set for advanced Environmental Science degrees.

    Having said that, maybe if you got an apprenticeship or job related to Environmental Sciences, you could approach universities after you've gathered a few years of experience and see if they'd let you in, but this would take a long time and again they may not consider the work experience formal enough education to accept you. They can be pretty strict about things like that.

    Maybe you should ring up the admissions offices of the universities and courses you're interested in and see what they have to say? It might give you more of an idea on your options.
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    I think that you'll find it difficult. My friend tried the same thing... i.e. did History, with loads of biology courses, and didn't get into the science field that she wanted, after applying to five universities. You can get into a different MA to an extent... for example, Law schools have a high percentage of History students. Science, medicine, engineering, etc., are so different though.
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    (Original post by fl4mers)
    I think you'll find it very difficult, if not even impossible to do an MA in Environmental Science/Sustainability. This mainly has to do with the fact that it's a science based degree and your undergrad is based on social sciences, which are pretty unrelated.
    No, environmental studies are only loosely based on science and closer to the "methods" (read BS) employed in the social sciences. But do you really want a degree in environmental sciences? You will be taught by people who think global warming is a reality while the hypothesis does not withstand the most basic statistical tests. You are better of saving your $$$ and buying a Kindle to read that nonsense.
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    (Original post by fl4mers)
    I think you'll find it very difficult, if not even impossible to do an MA in Environmental Science/Sustainability. This mainly has to do with the fact that it's a science based degree and your undergrad is based on social sciences, which are pretty unrelated.
    I would never call Chinese and History 'social sciences' :lolwut: History does not involve any primary data collection, and my guess is that Chinese involves a language element and a cultural/literary element, neither of which would involve primary data collection either. The thing that defines social sciences from humanities is field work.

    Also remember that human geography is a very typical social science, and a good friend of mine studied this at undergraduate before going onto win funding for a PhD in one of the best Environmental Science departments in the country. So be careful of generalising.

    (Original post by Ghost6)
    No, environmental studies are only loosely based on science and closer to the "methods" (read BS) employed in the social sciences. But do you really want a degree in environmental sciences? You will be taught by people who think global warming is a reality while the hypothesis does not withstand the most basic statistical tests. You are better of saving your $$$ and buying a Kindle to read that nonsense.
    And another fail of a post by Ghost6 :congrats:


    :rofl: at you thinking global warming isn't real :toofunny:
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    (Original post by Ghost6)
    No, environmental studies are only loosely based on science and closer to the "methods" (read BS) employed in the social sciences. But do you really want a degree in environmental sciences? You will be taught by people who think global warming is a reality while the hypothesis does not withstand the most basic statistical tests. You are better of saving your $$$ and buying a Kindle to read that nonsense.
    Rude.

    (Original post by Craghyrax)
    I would never call Chinese and History 'social sciences' :lolwut: History does not involve any primary data collection, and my guess is that Chinese involves a language element and a cultural/literary element, neither of which would involve primary data collection either. The thing that defines social sciences from humanities is field work.

    Also remember that human geography is a very typical social science, and a good friend of mine studied this at undergraduate before going onto win funding for a PhD in one of the best Environmental Science departments in the country. So be careful of generalising.

    And another fail of a post by Ghost6 :congrats:


    :rofl: at you thinking global warming isn't real :toofunny:
    History involves the collection of any data.
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    (Original post by npub123)
    History involves the collection of any data.
    My point was that you don't elicit the data yourself. For instance through interviews, or participant observation or questionnaires. You deal with data that has already been generated through some other means, e.g. public records and so forth.
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    I personally know only one "sustainability" program (not in the UK), but I don't know anything if they accept someone with a History/Chinese degree. (They are very vague.) Do you have any experience in the field to make your choice more plausible? I think you should find/search interdisciplinary programs who take students of various disciplines (depending on the bewished structure/content of the Master of course).

    It isn't impossible, but difficult. The other big group of graduates in comparison what Cragyrax elaborated on, will be poeple coming from enviromental engineering, agriculture or forestry, the latter are often courses who involve both also some law and business/economics modules, so that these students have a broad knowledge, which is just more applied.

    May have not helped at all, but perhaps a little...

    Good luck
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    The other thing I was going to suggest is that some Universities offer graduate diplomas in subjects without requiring applicants to have a relevant background. Although graduate diplomas aren't as well respected as Masters, if your aim is to go onto a PhD I think they are considered as an acceptable way to transfer into a new area.
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    I'm doing a diploma in Sociology in Sept (hoping to upgrade to MA). I have no degree in social science as my degree(s) were in physical sciences. I do have over a decade work experience and I've been reading all sorts over the years so hoping the transition will be ok. I want to do a Phd ultimately.
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    History is a humanity and not a social science. It is, however, sometimes called a human science.
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    I would see if there are any environmental masters based in the social sciences you could apply for rather than attempt a science masters.
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    Doesn't UEA do a MA Env.studeis which has limited science to it ?
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    dunno about sustainability but i am most of the way through a masters in wildlife conservation after an undergraduate history degree and then legal training/work. not having a science background hasn't been an issue, but i was more interested in practical conservation than 'hard' science and chose my course accordingly. i would definitely recommend a maths refresher before you do anything with a quantitative element though.
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    (Original post by Craghyrax)
    My point was that you don't elicit the data yourself. For instance through interviews, or participant observation or questionnaires. You deal with data that has already been generated through some other means, e.g. public records and so forth.
    Not necessarily
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    Doing a sciency MA from an arts degree would be pretty unusual, I think. Just a suggestion, you could do a masters in the politics or business side of sustainability.
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    (Original post by Craghyrax)
    I would never call Chinese and History 'social sciences' :lolwut: History does not involve any primary data collection, and my guess is that Chinese involves a language element and a cultural/literary element, neither of which would involve primary data collection either. The thing that defines social sciences from humanities is field work.

    Also remember that human geography is a very typical social science, and a good friend of mine studied this at undergraduate before going onto win funding for a PhD in one of the best Environmental Science departments in the country. So be careful of generalising.

    And another fail of a post by Ghost6 :congrats:


    :rofl: at you thinking global warming isn't real :toofunny:
    The idea of history being a science is absurd.
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    I would think it would vary based on your undergrad and your desired postgrad degrees -- for hard sciences I would imagine they'd want you to have that background.

    I have a BS and an MA in communications-related subjects, and then decided I wanted to completely change my field and am going to SOAS in September for an MA in religions. I emailed the department head and explained my previous degrees and what I wanted to do at SOAS and asked if they accept students without a background in the subject -- he said they often do.

    Also, most people in my first MA program didn't have a background in communications. But, again, this isn't exactly a science-type subject.

    I would call or email the department head and see what s/he thinks.
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    (Original post by SophiaKeuning)
    Doing a sciency MA from an arts degree would be pretty unusual, I think. Just a suggestion, you could do a masters in the politics or business side of sustainability.
    I thank that would be pretty good for you!
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    (Original post by stewe)
    Hi all,

    Sorry if this comes up all the time but I want to do a masters in environmental science/sustainability and my undergrad was in Chinese and History (2:1). I've been looking at various degrees and most of them (particularly those in continental universities) all say that you need a relevant undergrad. I've been told before that I would be able to get into a masters of a different discipline, does anyone know?

    Thanks
    Are you sure that you want to devote your study and career in the field of environmental sustainablity? Or just because you fancy a job like that?

    Sorry to be very rude to ask you so directly. Coz I am going through the difficult experience of changing the discipline from Medcine to Economics. My suggestions are as following.

    First, If you can have a gap year, find an environmental sustainablity related job in China. Your bilingual ablity will be an advantage. You will get the first hand experience and knowledge about environmental sustainablity. During that period, You may reconsider whether you really want to devote yourself to that or not. After 1 year, you will have your own understanding about the subject , which can be written in your personal statment and CV. That will leave a greater impression for the Msc course selector.

    Second, If you dont have sufficient time to do that, just go directly to the departement of uni you want to study and find someone doing the Msc or Phd. Ask them about the reading list and job persepective for that environmental sunstainablity. Read the teaching materials and feel whether it is interesting for you.

    Third, changing into a total different discipline is very hard learing experience for me. I have to brush up on the Economics knowledges which is full of advanced maths and statistics. If you choose the change, you have to accept the suffering during your learning process.

    Fourth, China is a very friendly country, especially for the British. If you want, try to find a environmental sustainability related job in big cities such as Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou or Hongkong. I am sure your will enjoy yourself and experience the oriental culture which might better your understanding about what you learnt about China.

    Wish all the best for you.

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