There are many career benefits awaiting when you further your education with a master’s degree. The right graduate studies enable you to hone the knowledge acquired from the bachelor’s program in order to develop better skills and obtain the diversity of experience that leads to growth.
Like bachelor’s programs, many master’s degrees have a set curriculum. Students typically need to take “lock-step” courses with no alternatives. Although there are very few bachelor’s programs that will let you customize your experience, there are several options when it comes to personalized master’s degrees.
A personalized master’s degree enables students to develop knowledge and skills in a specific field within a curriculum of interdisciplinary courses. It is an innovative approach to providing a solid foundation for success while meeting the unique educational needs of students.
A portion of your credits will be directed at the relevant disciplines necessary to deepen your knowledge and skills in your chosen professional field. The other portion will be aimed at customized courses in areas that pique your curiosity or those in which you wish to improve your knowledge. This will allow you to obtain a master’s experience that is tailored to your career needs.
Some universities with customizable programs include Harvard Graduate School and UC Denver.
Why Master’s degrees allow you to personalize your curriculum
Several characteristics of graduate studies enable this customized learning approach:
Master’s programs allow you to specialize in your chosen career path instead of taking a broad approach as you would in undergraduate studies. Therefore, it makes sense that such studies leave room for customizable learning pathways that cater to your career goals.
Flexible program schedules
Another point worth considering is the flexible schedules available. Graduate courses are available part-time or online to enable working professionals to juggle both school and work responsibilities. Students can attend night classes or follow virtual classes at their own convenience.
Flexible background requirements
The master’s degree is a very flexible study option, and you can often join a program in a different field from your bachelor’s degree field of study. For example, a medical master’s program will often require a bachelor’s degree in a science or health-related area. However, any type of undergraduate background might be enough to attain an online masters of computer science.
Customizing your Master’s degree outside of an institution is unconventional but efficient
Getting a degree at an educational institution is not the only route to completing a master’s program. Although it may be unconventional, a substitute for continuing your learning is to create your own master’s degree program.
Here’s how you can customize your master’s degree program.
Set your goal
Before you decide to pursue a master’s program, you may already have a goal in mind. For example, you could be seeking to advance your career, apply for a particular job position, or undergo some personal development.
Having a goal creates a clearer picture of what you should learn and which skills are necessary to become more experienced in your chosen field.
Draw up your learning plan
Ask yourself what you would like to learn to advance your career. Then, ask yourself what other personal interests could bolster your career goals. A bit of online research will help you to select appropriate learning pathways.
Find online courses
Online courses are available from accredited institutions and online learning platforms such as Coursera, Udemy, and edX.
Several more resources are available, and you can check which platforms offer you the courses you require and the right environment or lesson structure. You could opt for reading courses, video courses, or those offering a mix of different approaches. Several sites will also feature webinars and workshops that you can attend at your convenience.
Most of these courses do not charge an enrollment fee. However, platforms like Coursera offer you the option to obtain a certificate of study completion for a small enrollment fee. These tend to be quite affordable, and you can apply for financial aid depending on the course.
Attend your classes
Creating your own master’s program requires as much determination as getting a formal degree. You need to attend classes online or any workshops that are necessary for your learning and complete your coursework correctly.
You may only need to follow recorded lesson tapes and complete assignments by the deadline. You should create a schedule that lists when you have to attend classes and the number of hours you will need to study per day or per week.
Plan your capstone project
A capstone project is a summary of all you’ve learned and achieved throughout the duration of your studies. This will be the wrap-up to your customized graduate program and will highlight your strengths and showcase what you’ll offer to an employer.
One effective approach is planning your capstone together with an official accreditation within your field. For example, public relations professionals can become accredited in public relations (APR). This enables you to design a capstone that will boost your resume further.
Online academic platforms may offer some valuable community practice opportunities to grade your achievements. You may also want to carry out some research related to your studies.
Pros of customizable Master’s programs
- They allow you manage your time and learn at your own convenience
- They enable you to take courses you enjoy and acquire knowledge on topics that interest you
- They offer a more cost-effective way to study
- They can help you build your career the way you want
If your goal is to acquire knowledge and experience, creating your own master’s program is a more affordable way to further your career development. On the other hand, if your job goals require a graduate degree from an accredited institution, you simply have to find which schools have a suitable master’s degree that allows for customizable learning pathways.
Innovative learning opportunities are cropping up every day, and while customizable degrees are still limited, you will find several reliable solutions that can help you achieve your objectives.