What Is an Online Accelerated Bachelors to Masters Program?
An online accelerated bachelors to masters program allows qualified students to complete requirements for both a bachelors and masters degree at an accelerated pace. In most cases, undergraduate students start taking graduate level courses during their junior and senior years.
Those graduate courses help them meet both their undergraduate and graduate requirements, cutting down their total time in school. Online accelerated programs are great for people who know their academic path in advance and are ready to embark on their journey.
How Do Online Accelerated Programs Like These Work?
An online accelerated bachelors to masters program is sometimes called a 4+1 degree or program because enrolled students earn a bachelors degree in four years and a masters degree in one year instead of two. In accelerated programs like these, students typically complete up to 12 credit hours of coursework that “double-count” for both degrees.
This means that up to three to four classes fill both undergraduate and graduate requirements. Some programs might allow students to earn even more “dual” credits and help you get your combined bachelors and masters degree.
What Are the Benefits of Earning an Online 4+1 Degree?
Earning an online 4+1 degree can potentially help students save time and money and start or enhance their careers. These are the primary benefits most people seek through accelerated programs.
By taking classes that count toward both undergraduate and graduate requirements, students spend less time in the virtual classroom. If they take a full class load—four to five classes per semester in most cases—students can shave up to a year and sometimes more off the time it takes to earn a masters degree.
Want to finish even faster? Students might opt to take summer classes in addition to a full class load. In some cases, doing so allows students to earn their masters degrees just six months after they earn a bachelors degree. Online accelerated programs help students pursue their dreams expediently.
Students can also save money by earning a 4+1 degree. Paying for fewer classes means paying less tuition and paying for fewer materials and fees. Because students won’t be applying for multiple masters programs, they will also save money on application fees and school visits.
Plus, depending on their profession, students who earn a 4+1 degree might enter the workforce faster and start earning money sooner rather than later. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), professionals with a masters degree earned $1,380 per week in 2016. That’s $224 more per week than students with a bachelors degree, or approximately $12,000 per year.i
In many fields and occupations, students need a masters degree to start or enhance their careers. According to the U.S. BLS, anthropologists, counselors, historians, nurse midwives, and education administrations are just some of many occupations that require employees to have a masters degree.ii
In other occupations, such as finance, management, and marketing, employees aren’t necessarily required to have a masters degree; but having one may help them gain employment and earn higher wages.iii More and more schools offer accelerated programs to help students prepare for today's professional atmosphere.
An Academic Side Benefit of Earning a 4+1 Degree
Besides saving you time and money and helping you launch your career, an online 4+1 degree offers another benefit: continuity. By studying at the same school to earn your bachelors and masters degree, you’ll likely become more familiar with school policies, professors, resources, and online systems and tools for learning.
Who Earns an Online 4+1 Degree?
An online 4+1 degree is for students who know what career or academic path they want to pursue. They’ve chosen a major, considered their career carefully, and are ready to embark on the path toward higher education. They are also students who know they want or need a masters degree to begin their careers.
6 Reasons Someone Earns a 4+1
- A business major might want to earn a Master of Business Administration to help launch her career in business leadership.
- An undergraduate finance major might want to earn a masters degree in finance to become a Certified Public Accountant.
- A counseling or psychology major might need to earn a masters degree to become a licensed counselor or therapist.
- A computer science major might want to earn a masters degree in computing and information to specialize his knowledge.
- A psychology major might want to earn a masters in forensic psychology to specialize her knowledge.
- A mechanical engineer might need to earn a masters degree in the same subject to become competitive in his field.
Students pursuing careers that require masters degrees or students who know they want a masters degree benefit from accelerated programs such as 4+1 degrees.
Finding Your Perfect Career in Preparation for Online Accelerated Programs: Tips
Given that applicants to online 4+1 degree programs are investing significantly in their futures, it makes sense for them to research their prospective careers thoroughly.
Here are 5 ways you can complete your due diligence as a prospective applicant to accelerated programs:
- Research your potential career thoroughly. Google it. Join professional membership sites to learn about your field. Read magazines and articles devoted to your desired occupation and its field. Talk to people in your ideal job. Visit companies in your field. Set up an opportunity to job shadow. Learn everything you possibly can about what it means to work within your occupation and field.
- Take one course in your major each semester. This will help you learn about your field over time and help you determine whether or not it’s the right one for you. Do so during your freshman and sophomore years, before you apply to earn a 4+1 degree.
- Plan your career. Consider where the entry point is, what you need to be qualified to enter, and how you might advance your career over time. Then decipher what actions you need to take to help your career unfold. Earning a 4+1 degree will be just one step. What are the other steps you must take?
- Do an internship. Not only will an internship help you learn about your future field and occupation, it will also help you add valuable experience to your resume. It may also make you more competitive for admittance into your ideal graduate program and enable you to network with professionals in the field. All of this could help you launch your career.
- Join professional organizations in your field and see if they have local chapters in your city or on your campus (since you may be earning your 4+1 online, it may make more sense to find one in your city). Use the organization to network, learn about your industry, and motivate the action you need to take to grow your career.
How Do Students Apply for a Combined Bachelors and Masters Degree?
Students who want to participate in an online accelerated bachelors to masters program typically wait until their college sophomore year to apply. At that point, they must declare a major and apply for graduate school. Students in 4+1 programs are held to the same rigorous admissions standards as graduate students applying to traditional masters degree programs. To sketch out a clear path to the completion of a 4+1 degree program, students meet with undergraduate and graduate advisors.
3 Steps to Being Relevant
To be competitive for a spot in a 4+1 program, students should do the following 3 things.
- Maintain a high grade point average (in many cases, at least a 3.5; higher in some cases)
- Have a strong academic record and proven potential
- Be prepared to fulfill any requirements for admissions into the graduate program. Students might need to take the Graduate Records Exam, write essays, provide a resume, submit letters of recommendation, and more.
Some schools might give preference to students earning their bachelors degrees from the same school through which they intend to earn their masters degrees.
When to Take Your 4+1s
In many cases, students must be accepted into their online masters degree programs and approved for a 4+1 program prior to the first day of classes in the term the courses will be double counted. Students typically start taking “dual” courses, or courses that count toward both degrees, their junior and senior years.
4+1 Performance Requirements
Once they’re taking their dual courses, students may need to be more rigorous in their coursework; while a “C” grade might have been acceptable in a bachelors degree class, it might not be in a dual course. In many 4+1 programs, a “B” grade marks the new standard for an acceptable grade. Students who don’t earn Bs or higher might not pass the class or may even be dropped from the program. In short, 4+1 programs might be shorter, but they likely won’t be easier.
How Do Students Pay for an Online 4+1 Degree?
In an online 4+1 program, students will be designated officially by the school as an undergraduate or graduate student depending on their progress in the program. They’ll apply for financial aid in the form of grants, scholarships, or loans according to their designation.
Good to Know
Their dual courses—the courses that count towards their bachelors and masters degrees—may be considered undergraduate or graduate courses depending on the school’s policies and state or federal law.
By talking to financial aid advisors when they apply to earn a 4+1 degree, students can determine what financial aid is available when. Students can also, of course, pay for their 4+1 degrees out of pocket.
How Can I Find the Online 4+1 Degree That’s Right for Me?
You can begin here by exploring our sponsored schools. On our site, you’ll see school names and, in some cases, titles of online degrees and programs. Click on icons that capture your interest to explore options and get details about the school and program. You can find an Online Accelerated Bachelors to Masters Program on our site.
You can also use our “Find an Online College Degree” tool to customize your search. This is a perfect place to launch your education and take one giant step toward your career.
Walden University: A Higher Degree, A Higher Purpose
Walden University offers online accelerated bachelors-to-masters degree programs for undergraduate students. In its programs, students earn the same number of credits as they would if they were earning both degrees separately. However, in an accelerated program, they do so in just six years instead of seven when attending full time.
Some areas in which students can participate in Walden’s Accelerate Into Masters (AIM) degree acceleration program include:
- Psychology and Counseling
- Emergency Management
- Instructional Design and Technology
- Early Childhood Studies
- Nonprofit Management and Leadership
- Healthcare Administration and Policy
- Public Administration and Policy
- Criminal Justice and Forensics
Within those areas, Walden University has seventeen online masters degree programs that participate in AIM. Here are some of the specific masters degrees you can earn at an accelerated pace:
- An MS in Criminal Justice
- An MS in Health Education and Promotion
- An MS in Nursing
- An MS in Industrial and Organizational Psychology
- An MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
To determine which of Walden University’s numerous online programs participate in AIM, click on “Request Information” next to degree options in the areas listed above.
Southern New Hampshire University
Southern New Hampshire University offers online BS-to-MS programs to save students time and money. During their undergraduate programs, students can take masters degree level courses at the undergraduate tuition rate. Credits for those courses can then be applied to a masters degree, enabling students to graduate with a masters degree in one year instead of two when attending full time.
Areas in which students can participate in SNHU’s BS-to-MS program include:
- Accounting, with an optional concentration in Forensic Accounting & Fraud Examination
- Finance, with an optional concentration in Financial Planning
- Marketing, with optional concentrations in Digital or Social Media Marketing
- Sports Management
By participating in SNHU’s BS-to-MS program, students can earn a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in one of these areas.
View SNHU’s BS-to-MS degree options in addition to other online degree options to see which ones are perfect for you.
George Mason University
George Mason University offers bachelors/accelerated masters programs to highly qualified undergraduate students. Geared particularly for students with a commitment to research, graduate, and professional studies, George Mason University offers accelerated programs in several disciplines. Here are some of many:
- Accounting (BS to MS)
- Anthropology (BA to MA)
- Applied Computer Science (BS) and Applied Information Technology (MS) or Applied and Engineering Physics (MS)
- Art and Visual Technology (BA or BFA) to Arts Management (MA)
- Bioengineering (BS) or Biology (BA or BS) to Biology (MS)
- Conflict Analysis and Resolution (BA or BS to MS)
GMU also offers bachelors to accelerated masters programs in areas such as:
- Art Education
- Art History
- Civil and Infrastructure Engineering
- Computer Engineering and Computer Science
- Curriculum and Instruction
- Cyber Security
- Earth Science
- Religious Studies
And the list goes on! You’re probably beginning to see that George Mason University has a plethora of options. Which one is right for you? And which ones offer online or on campus options? Read more about George Mason University and “Get Matched Now” to find your perfect fit.
The University of Maryland, Baltimore County
The University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) offers accelerated bachelors/masters programs to students who apply for one. To apply, students must check with the department through which they want to earn their bachelors or masters degree to see if it participates in the accelerated bachelors/masters degree program.
Undergraduate students do not necessarily need to participate in the department through which they’ve declared their major. In other words, they might opt to earn a masters degree in a different subject and receive permission from that masters degree program to accelerate their degrees.
UMBC allows departments to determine whether or not they participate in the accelerate bachelors/masters program. Therefore, students must look for the degree they want and request directly through an undergraduate or a graduate program to participate in an accelerated program of their choice.
[i] bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm ii bls.gov/ooh/occupation-finder.htm iii bls.gov/careeroutlook/2015/article/should-i-get-a-masters-degree.htm