masters in a different subject to bachelors? Watch

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xlucyx
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I was wondering, can you take a masters in a different subject to your bachelors degree?

for example, if i were to do childhood and youth studies at one uni, would i be able to do a masters in sociology or a social science at another?
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passthesaltplease
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Most UK Master's programmes are very flexible in terms of this. They are mainly looking for academic ability at undergrad level i.e. how well you can construct an argument, research potential and your motivation for doing the course. If you look at any prospectus they will tell you that you need an x class honours degree possibly in a 'related' subject. This is a fairly loose interpretation though i.e. English undergrad won't get you into a Biochem Masters. But a cultural studies undergrad could get you into most soc sci Masters.
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Epoch157
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One of the main reasons that Masters degrees exist is so that people can gain experience in a relatively new area as compared to their undergraduate degree. I'm in the process of applying for a PhD in Psychology, having done it as an undergrad. Very early on in the process, I was chatting to a lecturer about the pros and cons of doing a Masters first. He basically said that if you wanted to go on to do a PhD, you might as well go straight into it. You wouldn't learn anything new on the Masters course, and it would be a waste of time and money.

As long as you have the basic prerquisites in the area you want to do the Masters in, you shouldn't have a problem.
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crafty bison
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Yes. I know someone mastering in Creative Writing having bachelorised in Geography.
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Craigy_Boy
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(Original post by Epoch157)
One of the main reasons that Masters degrees exist is so that people can gain experience in a relatively new area as compared to their undergraduate degree. I'm in the process of applying for a PhD in Psychology, having done it as an undergrad. Very early on in the process, I was chatting to a lecturer about the pros and cons of doing a Masters first. He basically said that if you wanted to go on to do a PhD, you might as well go straight into it. You wouldn't learn anything new on the Masters course, and it would be a waste of time and money.

As long as you have the basic prerquisites in the area you want to do the Masters in, you shouldn't have a problem.

I'm sorry, this is terrible and ill-informed advice, possibly the worst I've seen on here for a long time. I'm a first-year PhD student in the social sciences, so I have some idea of what I'm talking about.

Master's degrees are not primarily designed to introduce you to a new subject at all. In most cases their role is to allow you to specialise in more detail in a subject which you have already encountered (perhaps even only tangentially) at the undergraduate level, acquainting you with the more advanced debates in the field, introducing you to methodological disputes and potentially preparing you for the transition into doctoral study. Whilst it is certainly true that many post-graduate courses have flexible entrance requirements (indeed, I myself completed a master's degree in a field that was different, albeit related, to my undergraduate discipline), it is not their primary purpose to transfer people between fields, even though this may happen sometimes.

Master's degrees are absolutely crucial in paving the way from a bachelor's degree to doctoral study. There is a whole world of difference between doing a BA and a PhD - in fact, some people who do very well at undergrad go on to become very mediocre doctoral students, and vice versa. It's certainly true that not all students, even those who seem the brightest, possess the talents that wil enable them to make a novel and interesting contribution to their field when it comes to writing a doctoral thesis.

The master's provides you with the opportunity to test your mettle, so to speak, in terms of graduate level education. It assesses your potential to engage with the material in your subject at a higher level, and also gives you an impression of what it's like to live the life of a graduate student (not always a fairytale, I assure you), to see if it's really for you. Trust me, I knew plenty of people who intended to do PhDs, but changed their minds on the basis of their experiences as master's students, as well as others like myself who only became confident that they were capable of doing a doctorate once they had completed a taught post-graduate course before hand.

Though this may vary by field (perhaps it's different in psychology?), in my opinion going straight from an undergraduate program into a doctorate is, in most instances I would say, far from desirable. In fact, it's not always even possible, since most reputable departments would only allow exceptional candidates, those types of people with starred double firsts and very clear and well-defined research goals, to do this anyway.

Please forgive the inelegance of my prose. I've been in the library all day and I'm knackered.
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Epoch157
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(Original post by Craigy_Boy)
I'm sorry, this is terrible and ill-informed advice, possibly the worst I've seen on here for a long time. I'm a first-year PhD student in the social sciences, so I have some idea of what I'm talking about.
I'm a final year undergrad going through the process of applying for a PhD, so I'm not exactly ill-informed.


(Original post by Craigy_Boy)
Master's degrees are not primarily designed to introduce you to a new subject at all.
I didn't say that this was their primary purpose; simply that it is one of the main ways in which they're currently treated.


(Original post by Craigy_Boy)
In most cases their role is to allow you to specialise in more detail in a subject which you have already encountered (perhaps even only tangentially) at the undergraduate level, acquainting you with the more advanced debates in the field, introducing you to methodological disputes and potentially preparing you for the transition into doctoral study.
This kind of stuff is already (and should be if it isn't) a part of a lot of undergraduate degrees.


(Original post by Craigy_Boy)
Master's degrees are absolutely crucial in paving the way from a bachelor's degree to doctoral study. There is a whole world of difference between doing a BA and a PhD - in fact, some people who do very well at undergrad go on to become very mediocre doctoral students, and vice versa.
Whilst I concur that there are huge fundamental differences between doing an undergrad degree and a PhD, I would not agree that, across the board, a Masters is crucial.

For some subjects, yes you're right. If you've had little experience in conducting your own research at undergraduate level (all aspects of it), then a Masters will provide you with these skills. However, if (like me) you're sure that you want to study for a PhD in the same area as your undergrad degree, and you've already had some of the necessary experience, then spending a year on a Masters course really is a waste of time and money.

I get the impression we may be on different wavelengths - perhaps the system may be completely different in terms of BAs and BScs and progression to postgrad study?

(Original post by Craigy_Boy)
Though this may vary by field (perhaps it's different in psychology?), in my opinion going straight from an undergraduate program into a doctorate is, in most instances I would say, far from desirable.
It may vary by field; I'm not entirely sure. I can only speak from my experiences in Psychology. And from my experiences, what I have posted previously seems to be fairly normal. It seems desirable to me, anyway! I guess it depends on your individual situation, and what you want to do after you've finished.
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(Original post by Epoch157)
I'm a final year undergrad going through the process of applying for a PhD, so I'm not exactly ill-informed.
But it does mean that someone with more experience than you might be better placed to offer advice.

(Original post by Epoch157)
I didn't say that this was their primary purpose; simply that it is one of the main ways in which they're currently treated.
Perhaps that's what you meant, but that's not what you said. You said "one of the main reasons they exist ...", which to me sounds pretty close to talking about their primary purpose, not how they are treated by others.


(Original post by Epoch157)
This kind of stuff is already (and should be if it isn't) a part of a lot of undergraduate degrees.
Not at the requisite level for advanced study. This is something you'll realise only with the fullness of time; undergraduate degrees (even of the most rigorous sort) really only offer you a sample of the more advanced "meta-debates" and research methodologies (and for obvious reasons - an undergraduate degree is merely an introduction into the discipline).

(Original post by Epoch157)
Whilst I concur that there are huge fundamental differences between doing an undergrad degree and a PhD, I would not agree that, across the board, a Masters is crucial.
Since your field is psychology, a rather odd discipline that is largely social scientific but also closely related to the medical sciences, I'm not sure you are equipped to make statements "across the board". I've sort of moved between the humanities/social sciences, or have at least danced around on the border, and have a number of friends working on doctorates in both, so I feel confident that my advice holds true in most cases for them. I would, however, not seek to extend my advice to the natural sciences; certainly I know nothing about them.


(Original post by Epoch157)
For some subjects, yes you're right. If you've had little experience in conducting your own research at undergraduate level (all aspects of it), then a Masters will provide you with these skills.

However, if (like me) you're sure that you want to study for a PhD in the same area as your undergrad degree, and you've already had some of the necessary experience, then spending a year on a Masters course really is a waste of time and money.
"Undergraduate research" is a different kettle of fish to doing graduate work. Even if you enter a doctoral program straight from undergraduate, it's highly likely you'll first be registered as an MPhil student and be required to take methods seminars, which would seem to suggest anyway that your prior undergraduate training is certainly not sufficient.

(Original post by Epoch157)
I get the impression we may be on different wavelengths - perhaps the system may be completely different in terms of BAs and BScs and progression to postgrad study?

It may vary by field; I'm not entirely sure. I can only speak from my experiences in Psychology. And from my experiences, what I have posted previously seems to be fairly normal. It seems desirable to me, anyway! I guess it depends on your individual situation, and what you want to do after you've finished.
Perhaps, in which case you ought to have been a little more explicit about qualifying your initial advice.
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mrteacher
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so u can do a PhD without completing an MA? I never heard of that and I didn't know it was possible. All the PhD courses I am aware of require an MA. I am not saying Epoch157 that u dont know what u r talking about. I am just amazed that it is possible
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passthesaltplease
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As far as I know, in the States its possible to go from an Honours to a Phd 'programme', which means you pass by Master's level on the way.

I tend to agree with Craigy Boy though, especially in regards to the OP's questions regards social sciences.
I have a Master's degree already but am registering for a second Master's degree because I am changing subject so drastically - rather than applying straight to a DPhil.
That said its only because the change is across discipline. the OP could prob go into a Master's in Sociology from and undergrad in Family work (or whatever it is)
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Flyingmarshmallows
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Hey guys i was just wondering if it is advisable to do a masters in a course that is different from your bachelors degree. For instance, applying for a masters in marketing, having done psychology at an undergrad level? Any advice would be greatly appreciated, thank you! (:
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Schemilix
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(Original post by Flyingmarshmallows)
Hey guys i was just wondering if it is advisable to do a masters in a course that is different from your bachelors degree. For instance, applying for a masters in marketing, having done psychology at an undergrad level? Any advice would be greatly appreciated, thank you! (:
Your thread got derailed by people having an intellectual pissing contest. I feel sorry for you.

Your question was answered though. However the most elegant solution would be to look at a university prospectus or website. Most will specify what degree and class of degree they want. I think the less empirical subjects tend to tie into one another more than a lot of the natural sciences, which can be quite strict, but again that doesn't always apply. Just look around on their websites for their postgrad programs, most have entry requirements.
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(Original post by mrteacher)
so u can do a PhD without completing an MA? I never heard of that and I didn't know it was possible. All the PhD courses I am aware of require an MA. I am not saying Epoch157 that u dont know what u r talking about. I am just amazed that it is possible
It is possible sometimes. I'm studying at LSE and have heard of people who went from BSc to PhD directly. However, their PhD programme is always an MPhil/PhD programme, so that they are registered as doctoral students but in their first year they are actually doing a Research Masters. If they decide to drop out after that, they are given an MPhil. If they decide to continue with their studies, they become "normal" doctoral students. So this is often more like a 1+3 programme. In the US, it is very similar. Few universities offer Master degrees (try to find a masters in mathematics or economics at one of the ivy league universities). People either leave with their BA or get onto PhD programmes (which are very often more like a 2+3 programme). If you have a close look at the PhD programmes, you will see that in the first 2 years, you'll still be taking a lot of courses and that you are actually a taught masters rather than a PhD student in the "UK sense".

So notice that PhD in the US is not the same "level" as PhD in the UK. In the UK it is "your last three years" of higher education (usually after Masters), whereas in the states its everything after undergrad.

Hope that helps. If somebody knows more than me and thinks some of this is not correct, please let me know.
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Nix-j-c
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As long as they are vaguely related then it doesn't matter, but you couldn't go from sociology to astrophysics, but you could go from sociology to most social science master or from maths/ physics maybe even chemistry to astrophysics.
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JetLeechan
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I hope it's possible because this is what I intend to do. As already stated above, many universities in the UK as well as continental Europe, I might add, require "only" an undergraduate degree in a "related" field.

Unfortuenately, some universities interpret "related" as "really damn closely" related, in fact, related usually - at least in my experience - means, 60 - 90 Credits have to be in the same courses (1). Additionally, some want to see a further amount of Credits in "related" courses (2) and/or a clear concentration on a topic (3), that is somehow related to you intended master course.

Let me give an example.

Assuming somebody studies history and wants to get into a politics master:

1. You would have to complete at least 60 Credit points worth of basic politics courses, which are usually not covered in a history degree, i.e. theory of democracy, political theory, international relations theory, theory of democracy etc.
2. "Related Courses" would be, for example, history of political thought (albeit there are scholars who think history of political thought has nothing to do with the science of history), history of international relations, history of party xy etc.
3. Even in not "related" courses you can concentrate (as long as the teacher leaves you a choice) on certain topics. So you are doing the seminar on the French Revolution? Then instead of tracing "battles" and crimes, trying to figure out the motives of the people or discussing whether the revolution is the beginning of a new age - all though pretty much all of those questions have political implications - you could concentrate on a concrete political science topic, employing political theory or tracing changes in the way people thought about politics.

To some my text might seem as kind of obvious. But really, when I started my "journey" in uni I didn't think it would have such a great impact, the courses I choose and the topics I have to deal with, that it.

So if it comes to the question whether its possible or not to get into a Masters program different from your Bachelor, I think it is possible depending on whether you started following a certain path from very early into your undergraduate degree and/or on the admission policy of the graduate institute in question. From my experience, naturally, universities with less applicants tend to be more flexible in regard to such a change of subject.

On a sidenote though, there are quite a lot of Master programes that are designed for undergrads from diffrent subjects, such as math/ business/economics for engineers, philosophy/ethics/law for economists or regional studies for busines undergrads and so on.
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(Original post by Craigy_Boy)
I'm sorry, this is terrible and ill-informed advice, possibly the worst I've seen on here for a long time. I'm a first-year PhD student in the social sciences, so I have some idea of what I'm talking about.

Master's degrees are not primarily designed to introduce you to a new subject at all. In most cases their role is to allow you to specialise in more detail in a subject which you have already encountered (perhaps even only tangentially) at the undergraduate level, acquainting you with the more advanced debates in the field, introducing you to methodological disputes and potentially preparing you for the transition into doctoral study. Whilst it is certainly true that many post-graduate courses have flexible entrance requirements (indeed, I myself completed a master's degree in a field that was different, albeit related, to my undergraduate discipline), it is not their primary purpose to transfer people between fields, even though this may happen sometimes.

Master's degrees are absolutely crucial in paving the way from a bachelor's degree to doctoral study. There is a whole world of difference between doing a BA and a PhD - in fact, some people who do very well at undergrad go on to become very mediocre doctoral students, and vice versa. It's certainly true that not all students, even those who seem the brightest, possess the talents that wil enable them to make a novel and interesting contribution to their field when it comes to writing a doctoral thesis.

The master's provides you with the opportunity to test your mettle, so to speak, in terms of graduate level education. It assesses your potential to engage with the material in your subject at a higher level, and also gives you an impression of what it's like to live the life of a graduate student (not always a fairytale, I assure you), to see if it's really for you. Trust me, I knew plenty of people who intended to do PhDs, but changed their minds on the basis of their experiences as master's students, as well as others like myself who only became confident that they were capable of doing a doctorate once they had completed a taught post-graduate course before hand.

Though this may vary by field (perhaps it's different in psychology?), in my opinion going straight from an undergraduate program into a doctorate is, in most instances I would say, far from desirable. In fact, it's not always even possible, since most reputable departments would only allow exceptional candidates, those types of people with starred double firsts and very clear and well-defined research goals, to do this anyway.

Please forgive the inelegance of my prose. I've been in the library all day and I'm knackered.
Masters degrees are not crucial if you want to do a PhD, especially in sciences and engineering. I wish people would stop propagating the crap you are.
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Ghost6
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There are certainly many kinds of master's out there and even if they are not primarily meant to allow people to change fields they are often taken for this reason. Of course certain fields are much easier to move into than others. Anybody can move into management rather painlessly whereas the same is not be true for, say, mathematics and physics. As mentioned above by other posters, master's degrees are certainly not necessary per say if one's objective if to eventually graduate with a PhD. Someone mentioned it is common in the United States to enter a PhD program straight out of undergrad and this is certainly true. That being said, foreign applicants are often expected to hold a master's and at the very top programs it is hard to be competitive without one. It is an opportunity to take some advanced coursework and gain research experience, as well as stronger letters of recommendation if coming from a low ranked undergrad institution. But it is certainly not required.
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TBD
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I'm sorry, this is terrible and ill-informed advice, possibly the worst I've seen on here for a long time. And all that from a first year Phd student:rolleyes:

Masters degrees are often taken to change fields eg. a subject without prospects -such as social sciences- to one that has more chance of subsequent employment, reinforce abilities or specialise in a different field.

You may not consider it to be their primary function, but unless their (the universities' ) objective is to entice all potential Masters students into a Phd then you are very much mistaken.

In the context of the first "probationary" stage of a PhD then you would have to consider whether the effort required is justified or even a distraction. Of course at many universities it is an expected Waypoint and an exit award for those who do not wish to continue.

TBD

(Original post by Craigy_Boy)
I'm sorry, this is terrible and ill-informed advice, possibly the worst I've seen on here for a long time. I'm a first-year PhD student in the social sciences, so I have some idea of what I'm talking about.
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(Original post by ChemiEng)
Masters degrees are not crucial if you want to do a PhD, especially in sciences and engineering. I wish people would stop propagating the crap you are.
Yeah, in Science and especially Engineering most people don't have an BA but went straight to a four year course and got a Master.
(That is probably why e.g. it is hard to apply for a BA in Engineering at Oxbridge or Imperial. Their students tend to be less intelligent and the degrees less research based, thus they obviously aren't able to go straight into a PHD. )

Anyway whereas it may be possible to go straight from a BA to a PHD in some countries, your Master enables you to get a much better idea of your subject and research and by the end, whichever way you take 3+5, or 3+2+3, or 3+1+3 they won't be that a big age difference between the fresh PHDs or their equivalents, as it may look at the first glance.
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(Original post by Nathanielle)
Yeah, in Science and especially Engineering most people don't have an BA but went straight to a four year course and got a Master.
(That is probably why e.g. it is hard to apply for a BA in Engineering at Oxbridge or Imperial. Their students tend to be less intelligent and the degrees less research based, thus they obviously aren't able to go straight into a PHD. )

Anyway whereas it may be possible to go straight from a BA to a PHD in some countries, your Master enables you to get a much better idea of your subject and research and by the end, whichever way you take 3+5, or 3+2+3, or 3+1+3 they won't be that a big age difference between the fresh PHDs or their equivalents, as it may look at the first glance.
???

That is simply not true.

Also, aside from one or two unis within the UK, scientists and engineers are not awarded BA's, they get a BEng or BSc.

And lastly, I know loads of people that've done a 3+3 e.g. BEng + PhD. or BSc + PhD.
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(Original post by Nathanielle)
That is probably why e.g. it is hard to apply for a BA in Engineering at Oxbridge or Imperial
As far as I am aware neither of those three universities even offer BEng degrees.
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