Can I Do a Master’s Without a Bachelor’s?

Thinking of applying for a Master’s degree? It is important to make sure that you meet the entry requirements of your chosen course. Read on to find out if you can apply for a Master’s without a Bachelor’s degree, what the entry requirements for Master’s courses are, and what your options are if you don’t currently have a Bachelor’s degree.

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Can I do a Master’s without a Bachelor’s degree?

In the vast majority of cases, you will not be able to study a Master’s without a Bachelor’s degree. Almost all UK universities list a Bachelor’s degree as a requirement for entry to any Master’s course, and top universities in particular will not usually consider applicants without a Bachelor’s degree.

However, some universities may be more flexible and some do encourage applicants from non-traditional educational backgrounds to apply, such as mature students who are applying to study a Master’s later in their career. These applicants typically have a wealth of professional experience which, although is not equivalent to a Bachelor’s degree, may be considered adequate by universities as long as they can demonstrate a keen interest and passion for the subject they’re applying for.

Universities may also offer other options for Master’s applicants without a Bachelor’s degree, including:

Pre-Masters courses

Pre-Masters courses are short programmes designed to help students improve their skills and knowledge in order to meet the academic requirements for postgraduate level study. They can be offered to UK students who need to expand their subject knowledge (SKE (Subject Knowledge Enhancement) courses) or international students who have studied non-UK qualifications and need to improve their academic proficiency in the English language.

Many UK universities offer Pre-Masters courses, including the University of Sussex, UCL, Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), University of Southampton, Lancaster University, University of Surrey, and more.

Postgraduate Certificate or Diploma

Postgraduate Certificates (PGCert) and Postgraduate Diplomas (PGDip) are academic programmes that boost your knowledge and research skills in a chosen study area. They may be required if an applicant does not have the necessary academic qualifications to enrol on a Master’s course right away. Postgraduate Diplomas are typically shorter than a full Masters course and, in a few cases, you may be able to boost the Diploma up to a full Masters just by carrying out a postgraduate dissertation.

You can find out about universities’ PGCert and PGDip courses on their websites, or search for these specific course types on sites such as Prospects.

As a general rule of thumb, you should try and obtain a Bachelor’s degree before applying for a Master’s degree, as it will provide you with the necessary knowledge of your subject area and research skills required for postgraduate level study. However, universities do consider Master’s applications on an individual basis, so you can always speak to them directly to find out if there are other options available to you.

What are the requirements for Master’s courses?

Most Master’s degree programmes require applicants to hold a Bachelor’s degree. For top universities, this will typically need to be a 2:1 or first-class degree, however some universities do accept 2:2 degrees as a minimum. Depending on the course you are applying for, your degree may also need to be in a specific subject area or demonstrate certain skills or topics covered.

Some Master’s courses may also have additional entry requirements, such as completion of an admissions test (e.g. GRE/GMAT for Business courses) and professional experience (e.g. 1-3 years for many MBAs). If you are applying from outside the UK and/or have not previously studied in English, you will also need to provide evidence of your English language ability by completing a proficiency test, such as the IELTS or TOEFL. The score you will need to achieve in any admissions test and/or language proficiency test will depend on the university and course you are applying for.

Make sure to always check on your chosen university website for specific entry requirements for your course. You can also find out more about the entry requirements for Master’s subjects and universities in our postgraduate resources.

FAQs

What’s the difference between a Bachelors and a Masters?

A Bachelor’s degree is an undergraduate qualification that lasts for around 3 years. To qualify for a Bachelor’s degree, you will need to be in the final year of, or completed, your A levels (or equivalent) and meet the grade requirements for your chosen course.
A Master’s degree, on the other hand, is a postgraduate qualification that lasts for around 1 year (if studied full-time).

Is Masters or Bachelors higher?

A Master’s degree is a higher level qualification than a Bachelor’s degree. Traditionally, students begin a Bachelor’s degree once they have completed their A levels (or equivalent school level qualifications). They may then go on to study a Master’s once they have completed their Bachelor’s.

Can I do Bachelors and Masters at the same time?

Bachelor’s and Master’s are two different levels of qualifications, and you typically cannot study a Master’s without first completing a Bachelor’s. The only way you can study a Bachelor’s and Master’s ‘at the same time’ is via an integrated course that means that Bachelor’s students automatically stay on an extra year to complete their Master’s qualification at the same universities. These programmes usually last for four years and many universities offer them.

Can my Masters be different from my Bachelors?

In many cases, you will be able to study a Master’s in a different subject than what you completed your Bachelor’s in, so long as you can demonstrate a keen interest in the new subject and demonstrate the necessary skills to succeed at it.

However, some Master’s courses do specify a degree in a certain subject (or set of subjects) as an entry requirement. For example, MSc Maths and Science courses typically require applicants to hold an undergraduate degree in Maths or Science in order to qualify for entry. This is because the level of knowledge and mathematical skills required is extremely high and the course is designed specifically for Maths and Science graduates.

Bear in mind that whatever Master’s course you choose (even if it is the same subject as your Bachelor’s course), it will be vastly different from studying at undergraduate level. You will usually be required to study far more independently and become more specialised in one or multiple area/s of your subject. Make sure to always do your research into the Master’s course you are applying for and the entry requirements in advance.

Do A levels matter for Masters applications?

Universities will not usually look at A levels as part of a Master’s application and A levels are rarely listed in the entry requirements for Master’s courses. Instead, universities will be interested in your most recent academic qualification, which should be your Bachelor’s degree. The grade you achieve in your Bachelor’s degree and any specific subject/topic requirements will be the most important element of your application.