Does My Undergraduate Degree Limit My Graduate Options?

If you’re getting ready to apply to a university undergraduate program or are already in one, it’s like a time of excitement and stress. One of the primary decisions students in undergraduate degree programs must decide on is what path they’d like to take in the future. Will you finish school at the undergraduate level and enter the workforce? Will you continue on to a professional school and study medicine or law? Or will you continue on to obtain your master’s and PhD? These are the common paths many university studies will take upon completion of their undergraduate degree.

If you’re planning to continue on to higher education after undergrad, you’ll likely be stressing out over which courses to take, and what to major in during your undergrad years. But the overarching question many people have is, “Does My Undergraduate Degree Limit My Graduate Options?”

Does My Undergraduate Degree Limit My Graduate Options?

There are a number of factors one must take into consideration when answering the question of does my undergraduate degree limit my graduate options. These will be discussed separately below:

  • Relativity

One of the main determinants of whether or not your undergraduate degree will limit your graduate options is how closely the two degrees are related. Perhaps the best way to illustrate this point is through an example.

Let’s assume you are obtaining your undergraduate degree with a major in psychology and upon completion you decide you are interested in pursuing a master’s degree in social work. While it may have been better to have majored in social work during your undergraduate degree, psychology and social work are closely linked. Much of the knowledge you obtain pertaining to psychology will be extremely useful in the field of social work whereas if you had majored in mathematics you would be missing out on valuable interpersonal knowledge.

  • Experience

The second factor you must consider when answering the question does my undergraduate degree limit my graduate options is life experiences. Many students assume that admission into graduate school is solely determined by academics (i.e. coursework, major, grades, etc.). However, this is not always the case. Although those factors do play a role in the admission decision, graduate schools also look at any life experience you may have outside of the classroom that could make you an excellent candidate for the program in question.

For instance, if you had obtained your undergraduate degree with a major in business and then years down the road you decide you want to go to medical school; on the surface this would appear to have poor relativity. However, if after your undergraduate you went on to be a paramedic, that life experience can be extremely valuable when applying to med school. Sure, your undergraduate degree is fairly irrelevant; however, the skills and knowledge you would have obtained during your career can play a large role in the admission decision.

  • Other Connections

A third consideration you must make when answering the question does my undergraduate degree limit my graduate options is why there is a difference between the two subjects and whether or not a connection can be made.

An example would be a student who majors in music and after obtaining their undergrad degree decides they want to pursue a master’s degree in psychology. While the two certainly appear very different on the surface perhaps the student doesn’t want to take music completely out of their life. It could be the case that they want to do research on how music is perceived by the mind or how music can affect learning. A connection has been made whereby the experience gained in an undergraduate degree in music can transfer over to a graduate degree in psychology.

Does My Undergraduate Degree Limit My Graduate Options for Professional Schools

Many students wish to go on to a professional school to become a lawyer or doctor for instance. Although the same factors that affect other graduate admission decisions will play a role in professional school, it is important to make a note specifically on these schools. This is due to the often competitive nature of professional schools.

When considering the question does my undergraduate degree limit my graduate options for professional schools you must keep in mind that times are changing and schools are becoming more open minded with regards to admission decisions. For instance, years ago if you did not major in a hard science such as chemistry, biology, or pre-med chances of getting into medical school were slim. However, medical schools today are seeing the benefits of admitting students from a wide range of undergraduate majors including the social sciences and even the arts. This is because each undergraduate major as different benefits to bring to a med school classroom and as such, the undergraduate degree no longer limits you as much as it would have in the past. Of course, you’ll still need your prerequisite courses such as anatomy but that’s what electives are for.

Hopefully now you have a good understanding of the answer to the question does my undergraduate degree limit my graduate options?