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Best Masters Degree for a Career Change

The phrase “Career Change” can conjure up feelings that range from anticipation to fear. The path to starting afresh, in a new field, is riddled with uncertainties, insecurities, and most of all, unfamiliarities. The concept of a career has been traditionally defined at the outset of ones secondary school, or undergraduate degree.

If you choose to do a Bachelor’s in Zoology, you will be expected to stick to a profession that will always deal with the four (multi)-legged. If you are serious enough to carry on with developing your subject based skills, you will most likely seek out a Masters degree, to enhance your knowledge. Here are some well known Masters (MS) programs that feature in our honorable and dishonorable lists.

And of course, the always useful Is an MS degree, from the US, worth it? And if it is, then How to choose your MS specialization?

That’s the normal course of progression, if things are aligned with your interests. But what if you realize that your choice of field has been ill thought out, or that you no longer feel a burning desire to continue in the career you had once chosen for yourself? After going through the initial stages of denial, and often embarrassment (Read Shame and Fear of a Career Change), the next stage of constructive action requires planning.

While networking, interning, self-education, and self-drive, can walk you through the training, and implementation, of your plans, some fields also have the advantage of a regimented Masters degree for individuals from any background (Read Checklist for a Career change after 40).

Let us put it this way. There are Masters programs that require applicants to fulfill pre-requisites that include a Bachelor’s in the same field, for often obvious reasons. And there are Masters that relax that requirement, thus making it easy for anyone, with some form of a Bachelor’s degree, to apply and have a chance at exploring the new field, thus changing their career path.

Best Masters for a Career Change

Here are a few international MS programs, that allow applicants to migrate to a new field. But before we jump in, let’s side step an inch to talk about the Master in Advanced Studies (MAS) degree option.

Master in Advanced Studies (MAS)

These Masters degrees are different from the traditional Masters in Science or Masters in Arts degree programs.They also don’t always count as sufficient prerequisites for a Doctoral degree. However, they are extremely handy in securing a formal training in, industry recognized, on-demand professional courses, as a post-graduate professional degree.

Here are some of the recognizable MAS programs with a rather liberal academic requirement for admissions.

  • University of California San Diego’s MAS in Data Science and Engineering, MAS in Wireless Embedded Systems (Computer Science/Electrical), MAS in Architecture based Enterprise Systems Engineering, and MAS in Medical Device Engineering. The programs are all part-time, adding a slight complication, regarding Student Visas, for international applicants. Admission requires a prior background in Engineering, Math, Physics, or other Science fields, making it possible for anyone, within the technical community, to switch over to something new and exciting.
  • AISTS (International Academy of Sports Science and Technology) MAS in Sports Administration and Technology offered by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, the University of Geneva, and the University of Laussanne, and endorsed by the International Olympic Committee.

The list below shows Masters degrees that don’t necessarily require an undergraduate qualification from the same field. Also listed are the names of some of the best known universities that offer the respective MS program. The caveat, with such out-of-field applications is the added effort needed to fulfill the knowledge gap, or as in some cases, compensate it with a bridge program. But with the Masters, exposure to a network of similar professionals, and a litany of possibilities that would otherwise some out of reach.

Masters (MS) Program Out of Field Undergraduate Admission Eligibility Top Schools that offer the program
MS in Finance Bachelor’s in any field with knowledge in Mathematics. Work Experience preferred. London School of Economics

Imperial College London

HEC Paris

MS in Accounting Any discipline University of Teas Austin

Ohio State University

University of Michigan

MS in Supply Chain Management Any discipline MIT

Michigan State University

Penn State University

Masters in Management Any discipline University of St. Gallen

HEC Paris

Essec Business School

MS in Architecture Bachelor’s in any field plus a possible requirement of related work experience. MIT

Delft University of Technology

UC Berkeley

Masters in Liberal Studies Any discipline John Hopkins University

Dartmouth University

University of Denver

Masters in Special Education Previous teaching experience or experience working with disabled youth. Vanderbilt University

University of Kansas

University of Oregon

Master of Business Administration Any degree with preferred work experience. Harvard University


London School of Economics

Master of Criminal Justice Any discipline Florida State University

University of Central Florida

University of Wisconsin

Masters in Nursing Any discipline Georgetown University

University of Alabama

Capella University

Master in Education Any undergraduate with work experience in teaching Arizona State University

Teachers College, Columbia University

Capella University

Masters in Human Resources Any discipline Purdue University

McGill University

Stanford University

Besides the above, there is also the recourse accessible through online Masters programs. According to a study conducted by Learning House, and Aslanian Market Research, in 2014, the most popular motivation behind the pursuit of an online Masters is the desire to change careers.

Among the various majors, the top five were Business Administration, Nursing, Elementary Education, Educational Administration, and Health Administration. 37%, of the responding graduate degree receivers, reported a change in employment status, either as role change, a promotion, or gainful employment post a period of unemployment. Read Online Degrees – Advantages and Disadvantages, for a better insight.
While an MS degree may not be necessary, or even sufficient, for a career change success story, it does, in some cases, provide a basis for clarity in ones’ subsequent moves in making a fruitful transition. So, make up your mind, research your alternatives, and network fast and heavy. Meanwhile, here’s some helpful reading.


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7 thoughts on “Best Masters Degree for a Career Change”

  1. I am currently in my 3rd year of Engineering, and want to pursue Masters in MIS right after engineering. Do I need a work experience? What else could be good for my profile?

  2. Hello,

    I am currently working at an auto ancillary firm and have 1.6 years of experience. I’ve spent one year in business planning and the remainder(till date) in a technical department (R&D). Should I go for an MBA or should I go for MS in engineering management. I would like to take up a leadership position. Kindly guide me regarding what would be the right course for my profile and also which universities and country would be the best keeping in mind job opportunities post study.

  3. Hi …I have 3 years of work experience from a Tier – 2 college in India and now I am looking to study further …should I go with another MBA or a Masters degree?

  4. Hi
    At present am working in TCS as a support executive with one year experience. Iam thinking to do mba but i was confused to do it from india in B schools else in usa or australia
    Based on the the admision process and fee structure

    Can you please suggest me

  5. hello sir,
    i am an entrepreneur. i have a experience of more than 4 years in different business field. i’m entrepreneur since early age but my education qualification is not so good i pass out with only 61% in ( 3 year course). what’s the possibility that i get the admission in Harvard Business School.

  6. Hi i am an b.e student i will complete my engineering next year my percentage is less around 53% i am appearing for GMAT now if i get good score in GMAT is there any 2+2 program in any University’s? can i get admission?

  7. @Manas and Aditi: Getting some experience would be highly recommended. Read this about dealing with the MS vs MBA dilemma:

    @Rohit: You could wait for a couple of years and go for an international MBA.

    @Vinay: It’ll be too early for an international MBA. Better to get some more experience before considering that option.

    @Brij: Going by the way you’ve presented your profile here, I’d think the chances are low.

    @Amer: Here’s a list of early MBA options, and some more information on the Harvard 2+2 program:


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