If you’ve previously completed a bachelor’s degree and are considering going back to school, you have many educational options available to you. One of these options is to return to school for a second bachelor’s degree – a choice that can help you embark on a new career path or broaden your skills and knowledge.
This chapter will focus on the reasons why you may consider returning to school for a second bachelor’s degree, and discuss the potential prerequisites and requirements as well as the financial aid options available to you.
Choosing Between a Second Bachelor’s Degree or Pursuing a Master’s
Before deciding on getting a second bachelor’s degree, speak with an academic counselor. They are in the best position to advise you on your choices. You need to discuss your career goals with an academic counselor to receive advice on the academic and professional implications of each of your options.
When considering going back to school, it’s likely that your first priority would be to choose an educational option that enables you to gain an additional qualification that has the biggest potential impact on your future career prospects. This is where the academic implications of your options may come into play, with transferring credits from your first degree enabling you to reduce the time it takes to get your second degree.
This section will discuss why earning a second bachelor’s degree is a great choice for students looking to go back to school for further education, as well as go over the situations where a master’s degree may be a valuable alternative.
Situations Where a Second Bachelor’s Degree May Be the Right Choice
Although each individual’s case is different, getting a second bachelor’s degree is often a great option for those looking to pursue further post-secondary education. Consider the following situations:
- You are unhappy in the career that you have chosen and want to move into a completely different field. In many cases, because the curricula are so different, you may not be given any credits from your first degree. This may disqualify you from eligibility for a master’s degree in your new field, and your only option would be to enroll for a second bachelor’s degree.
- You want to progress in your current industry, but getting a master’s degree may make you too specialized and limit your career prospects. A second bachelor’s degree that compliments your first degree may make more sense if you are looking to broaden your education and increase your prospects for career advancement.
- Your current field may have evolved to the point where a second degree may be required to bring you up to speed with advancements in technology. As an older graduate, you may find yourself falling behind younger degreed employees and being overlooked for career advancement.
When a Master’s Degree May be the Right Option For You
You’ve learned why a second bachelor’s degree may benefit your career advancement. Now, let’s talk about why you may choose to pursue a master’s degree instead.
- You work in a field that demands specialization. If you work in a field like nursing or computer science, you may find that in order to progress in your career, you need specific, specialized skills. Master’s degree programs help you to zero in on a specific specialization within your chosen industry.
- You want to enter the C-suite. Earning a master’s degree in a business-related field can help you to develop the leadership and management skills required to move into a senior-level position.
Additionally, research has shown that students with a master’s degree earn around $20,000 more per year than those with only a bachelor’s degree.
Receiving Financial Aid for a Second Bachelor’s Degree
Although the financial aid options available to students pursuing a second bachelor’s degree are more limited, there is still ample opportunity for you to apply for assistance.
Federal Student Loans
Under the Stafford loan program, you may apply for a student loan for a second bachelor’s degree. The lifetime loan limit, however, is capped at $57,000 for undergraduate studies, so be sure to check how much of this loan limit you may have spent on your first bachelor’s degree.
By law, any federal grant cannot be applied toward a second bachelor’s degree. This makes you ineligible for the Pell Grant, the Cal Grant, and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG).
If the available funds under the federal student loan program are insufficient to pursue your second bachelor’s education, you are still eligible to apply for private scholarships.
Getting a Second Bachelor’s Degree: Prerequisites and Credits
There is no hard and fast set of rules when it comes to prerequisites for enrollment or the eligibility of transfer of credits when applying to study for a second degree. The rules vary from institution to institution, and you should discuss these details with an advisor at the college or university where you intend to study.
The following points regarding the transfer of credits are relevant:
- Transferring credits within the same state educational system can be fairly simple.
- Many institutions impose a limit on the amount of time that has elapsed between the completion of the first degree and enrollment for the second for credit transfer eligibility.
- Some schools have formal interstate articulation agreements that enable the transfer of credits.
Dare to Take That First Step Toward a Second Bachelor’s Degree
The option of getting a second bachelor’s degree or enrolling in a graduate program for a master’s often prompts much discussion. It ultimately depends entirely on your personal circumstances and the field of study you want to pursue for your second degree. Talk with an academic advisor at the university where you intend to study. They should be more than willing to help you with your decision.
The undeniable fact is that, if you make the right choice, a second degree can have a huge impact on your career prospects.
So, go on, take the necessary steps today to enroll for your second degree at a leading university.