Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Opinion | Is an accelerated master’s degree worth it?

CW / Shelby West

In an increasingly competitive job market, more and more students are pursuing master’s degrees to set themselves apart. According to Forbes, obtaining your master’s has been shown to increase employment opportunities, improve your financial prospects, and — of course — expand your knowledge and expertise in a given field. 

At The University of Alabama, there are two avenues through which interested students can pursue their master’s. One is the traditional route of graduating with a bachelor’s and then applying to a postgraduate master’s program. However, one can also take advantage of various accelerated master’s programs on campus, which allow students to tackle both undergraduate and graduate coursework simultaneously — usually resulting in a master’s degree after five years. 

There are both costs and benefits associated with either approach. 

An accelerated master’s program is clearly the more efficient of the two on paper, letting you earn a master’s with less time and money spent. This is particularly advantageous to those who might be considering even further education post-master’s. A master’s degree can bolster your application to a Ph.D. program, law school or medical school — an accelerated program allows you to gain this advantage without excessively delaying your entrance into such programs and, subsequently, the workforce.

In addition, accelerated master’s programs are ideal for students who may be discouraged by financial costs. We all know that excessive student loans place a major obstacle before anyone seeking higher education, let alone a postgraduate degree. 

Saving a year or more in tuition and other expenses makes accelerated master’s programs extremely attractive for those who want to gain another degree while limiting their financial burden. This route also allows students on scholarship to take full advantage of those savings — if your scholarship covers the cost of 10 semesters, why not squeeze as much value out of it as possible by securing greater opportunity with that fifth subsidized year?

The University’s ultimate goal is to prepare its students for future success, and the accelerated master’s program exemplifies this mission. Andrew Goodliffe, the associate dean for graduate admissions, recruitment and fellowships, said that “we would love to see more students in the AMP program.”

Even so, an accelerated master’s is not for everyone. Adding graduate-level courses on top of your undergraduate work can be overwhelming and absorb time you may need for work, activities or recreation. 

Goodliffe recognizes this, speaking on how the traditional master’s path may better suit students with different priorities that an accelerated program cannot accommodate. He noted that students who wait to attempt their master’s after they have finished their undergraduate work might be glad they had more time to explore different majors and fields before committing to a master’s program. He also understands that “some students just may want to work for a couple of years” before beginning work on another degree.

Indeed, the traditional master’s path may be preferable to an accelerated program for those who want more flexibility.  

No matter which path a student finds themselves interested in, Goodliffe stresses one thing: “Don’t overcommit. … I’m a big advocate that if someone isn’t passionate, they won’t do well.”

If you are considering pursuing a master’s, make sure that it is something you really want. Whether through an accelerated or traditional route, gaining another degree is an endeavor that requires significant commitments of both time and effort that should be taken into consideration when planning your academic future and ultimate career path.

That said, the University has excellent resources for anyone interested in continuing their educational journey, and I strongly encourage you to take advantage of them.

More to Discover