Is it possible to obtain a Master's degree without Bachelor's degree?

  • I have worked as translator for more than seven years in the industry. I have a background in cuisine for more than ten years. Now I would like to add an graduate degree related to Tourism, Hotel and Event Management to my professional experience.

    Can I enroll in such a masters program without first acquiring a Bachelors degree?

    What country do you want to study in? And do you have any certifications?

    @Enthusiastic while the norm in many fields/locations is that you do not need a MS for admission into a PhD program, the same is *not* necessarily true for admission into an MS without a BS. So the suggested question is *not* a duplicate.

  • I know people who have attended and graduated from master programs in Australia and the UK and I've seen people considering such programs in the US (though I don't remember the school in the US and it was about 10 years ago but I thought it was Carnegie Mellon). These schools were all reasonable, fully accredited schools.

    The students in question all were missing their bachelor degree. One had no university at all while others had most of their undergraduate credits yet had not finished. They key is that, like you, they all had significant real-world experience which was seen as offsetting their lack of credentials.

    So, the short version is, there are schools who will accept master-level students without an undergraduate degree and there are schools who will not accept them. You just need to do the leg work and see which schools will make that exception.

    Good luck!

    Johan Marais, a South African business owner and herpetologist, completed a master's degree through the University of Witwatersrand. He has no undergraduate degree.

    I know at least one academic who has no degree other than his PhD, so it's possible, but tough.

  • Absolutely it is possible to obtain a Master's degree without a Bachelor's degree. I have a MSc from one of the top (#2 or #4 depending on which survey you choose) schools in the US. I had some (less than one full year) undergrad course over 20 years earlier.

    I am not familiar with the specific field you mention or the accredited schools that offer degrees but you should approach the dean of the school directly and establish a relationship then have that person guide you through the admission process. You must present exceptional credentials to be accepted but top business schools quietly admit one or two per year each class.

  • I attained my master's degree without having fully completed my bachelor's. It was for an MFA however, and my portfolio was strong enough to earn admission. I think it would be more difficult for a master's in the sciences or in a business related field.

  • I know of someone who got into a graduate program without technically finishing his Bachelor's, and then repeated that when getting admitted for PhD. However, this didn't save him much work; he still needed the earlier education and had to get top grades and demonstrate that he'd be a great researcher to be considered for these exceptions.

    That isn't what you were asking about, but it does show that unusual admissions are possible if you can impress the fight people. For most of us that isn't practical.

  • Masters degree without a Bachelor at all, or Masters degree after having a Bachelor from an unrelated field?

    I think the first one is strictly impossible. So far, I have never heard of someone getting a Master before having the Bachelor first.

    I know there might be corner-cases for geniuses who do both at the same time, or get directly accepted to phd studies skipping everything. But that is highly unlikely in usual cases of regular people.

    If you have such a goal, it will be a massive administrative obstacle to overcome. And I don't see how you could convince an established university to give up their requirements.

    Maybe in 3rd world countries you can get any type of degree by throwing some money, but it does not seem to me as if that is your goal.

    EDIT (after @Mad Jack's comment below): Yeah there are always corner-cases which may change the story. Given that your experience is worth more than a undegrad diploma, or the fact that you might hold different certificates might give you a chance. But, then again you will have to ask the admission office to make an exception for you. Tough, but not impossible as I learned something new!

    _I think the first one is strictly impossible._ — The question I linked to above in the comments deals with exactly this scenario.

    but in the question you linked, the guy has some research experience and he has been exposed to the university environment beforehand. The current questions bears no such info/resemblance whatsoever.

    This answer isn't correct - it's fairly common for universities to accept professionals (with several years' experience) on to a Master's degree program. For example:

  • Absolutely. In the UK this is rather the norm. In Australia it is also common. I think other con tries are moving toward that direction as well, but for now I know that the UK and Australia would do it for sure.

    Can you provide some sort of evidence, please? This sounds contradictory to my experience.

    It is possible in the UK to receive an masters degree without a bachelors, but this is only in the case of integrated degrees such as MMath which have the syllabus of a bachelors integrated. These take the same length of time to achieve as a bachelors and a masters (4 to 5 years).

  • Yes, it is absolutely possible. But are there any degree-granting institutions that are so enlightened?

    In my educated opinion, a Masters is for industrial and other trades, while a PhD or even a Bachelor's degree (Bachelor of Arts) are for transcendental ideals. You don't need writing, a second language, a range of scientific and liberal courses for most fields.

    So you can be a Master, if another Master declares such.

    It seems like you're creating your own definitions for the degrees. There are popular terminal masters programs in some liberal arts fields, like East Asian Studies, that build entirely on bachelor's level courses. And I'm confused by the statement, "So you can be a Master, if a Master declares such."--I could see that being true in apprenticeship or dojo models, but not in academia. (Otherwise, I might start selling Masters degrees of my own design, on my own authority. ;) )

    Well, how to you believe such degrees began?

    I believe they began as "magister" (teacher) degrees in medieval universities. See In those contexts, it appears that universities were always the ones conferring degrees (not individual degree holders), and such degrees were used to say that someone should be accepted as a teacher by other universities.

    You certainly could "sell" Master's degrees of your own design on your own authority, but if you are not a master yourself, you won't have much authority, will you? One shouldn't rely on an institution for authority, because institutions are not conscious, much like you shouldn't rely on the law to make a lawful society, because no one's conceived a perfect law.

    Having the expertise behind a degree is a necessary, but rarely sufficient, grounds for granting it to others, in my mind. (I say "rarely" because I'm partial to post-apocalyptic reconstruction of society stories. ;) )

    @cactus_partner: As the word "degree" implies "levels of intensity", then mastery would or should be enough. However, perhaps the phrase "PhD degree" is inapt and inappropriate and should just be a Doctor of Philosophy. In which case mastery of some field is certainly not sufficient.

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Content dated before 6/26/2020 9:53 AM