What is an Accelerated 4+1 Program?

An accelerated 4+1 program allows students to pursue both a bachelor’s and master’s degree within a condensed timeline. In a 4+1 program, students take graduate-level courses while completing their undergraduate degree. After completing their bachelor’s within the traditional four years, these students can continue directly into a fifth year of graduate work to complete a master’s degree. 4+1 programs combine many different undergraduate and graduate degrees and can help jumpstart a graduate’s career.

How Does a 4+1 Program Work?

The structure of a 4+1 program involves a streamlined curriculum that integrates undergraduate and graduate coursework. Typically, accelerated 4+1 programs begin during an undergrad’s junior or senior year when students accepted into the program begin taking graduate-level courses. These advanced classes pull double duty, fulfilling requirements for both the current bachelor’s and future master’s programs.

This accelerated curriculum allows students to complete their undergraduate in four years and then immediately enter their chosen master’s program. Having already completed graduate coursework during their undergraduate studies, they should then be able to complete their master’s degree in only one year.

Accelerated 4+1 vs. Accelerated Degree Programs

The term “accelerated” can describe many different types of degree programs. When used alone, accelerated generally refers to a condensed timeline for a single degree. An accelerated 4+1 program denotes the completion of a bachelor’s and a master’s program in 5 years.

For example, the finance department at the Alfred Lerner School of Business and Economics offers an accelerated program for a master of science in finance and an accelerated 4+1 program. Its M.S. accelerated program allows students who already have a bachelor of science degree in finance to reduce the timeline of their graduate studies from two years to one. Their 4+1 program allows students to complete both their B.S. and their M.S. in finance in 5 continuous years.

Is a 4+1 Program Worth It?

Completing both degrees in less time could allow students to save on tuition and jumpstart their career. It can be particularly beneficial for those aiming to enter competitive job markets or fields where a master’s degree provides a distinct advantage.

Is a 4+1 Program Right for Me?

Deciding whether a 4+1 program aligns with your academic and career aspirations requires careful consideration. These programs are ideal for motivated students who possess a clear understanding of their career goals.

Students seeking an in-depth immersion in a specific subject area can leverage 4+1 programs. Many programs combine degrees from a single academic discipline. For example, Lerner College offers 4+1 tracks combining a B.S + M.S in accounting, economics or finance. These programs enable dedicated students to swiftly advance their education in their chosen field.

4+1 programs also appeal to students who want to add breadth to their education. Although the graduate and undergraduate degrees of a 4+1 program must share a similar curriculum, they don’t have to come from a single department. For example, students in Lerner College’s Engineering B.S. + MBA program take business courses outside the standard engineering curriculum their senior year. Once on the job market, graduates can demonstrate their expertise in engineering as well as their potential as business leaders.

How Do I Apply to a 4+1 Program?

Admission requirements vary between institutions, but typically only upperclassmen may apply to a 4+1 program. They must demonstrate academic achievement at the college level and be on track to graduate within four years. Since the 4+1 curriculum can vary on a case-by-case basis, interested students should consult their academic advisors to determine if they are a candidate for admission and if so, how to apply.

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