A post-baccalaureate degree is the preferable alternative to graduate school for many students … but is it the right choice for you?
And what is a post-baccalaureate degree anyway?
Essentially, it’s a degree you pursue after you’ve finished your bachelor’s degree — one that doesn’t take up as much time (or money) as a graduate program.
Post-baccalaureate programs do not confer the master’s or doctoral degrees offered by many formal graduate programs. Instead, they usually provide students with a post-baccalaureate certificate.
What Types of Post-Baccalaureate Degrees Exist?
Post-baccalaureate degrees cover a wide variety of subjects and serve a number of different purposes. You can find post baccalaureate degrees in fields such as criminology, IT, foreign languages, medicine and even the humanities.
Some post-baccalaureate programs may teach more hands-on skills (like IT), while others may simply expand upon or supplement your undergraduate education. As a rule, most post-baccalaureate programs are fairly specialized, concentrating on a specific area, unlike bachelor’s degrees, which are usually a bit broader in scope.
Why Choose a Post-Baccalaureate Degree?
The reasons for completing a post-baccalaureate degree are as varied as the topics available for study. Many students use a post-baccalaureate degree simply to supplement their bachelor’s degree with additional practical knowledge that will help them get a good job after college. For example, a student with a bachelor’s degree in international relations may choose to complete a post-baccalaureate program in a foreign language in order to improve job prospects.
In other cases, students may use a post-baccalaureate degree to improve their chances of getting into graduate school. If your undergraduate GPA is subpar, completing a solid post-baccalaureate program can help improve your record and demonstrate to graduate schools that you are truly serious about your studies.
A post-baccalaureate degree can also help you shift to a new field entirely. Post-baccalaureate medical programs are popular for arts/humanities graduates who want to apply to medical school but are lacking the necessary prerequisites from their undergraduate record, for example.
Pros and Cons of Post-Baccalaureate Degrees
Post-baccalaureate degrees can help improve your marketability in both the academic and job markets.They’re also great because they usually cost far less and take less time than master’s or doctoral degree programs.
But while a post-baccalaureate degree can definitely have concrete benefits, you should really only pursue a post-baccalaureate degree if it’s necessary for your future goals. Ask yourself — will you learn something that can be put to use in your future work? Will the credential help you get into graduate school or land a job?
A post-baccalaureate degree on its own isn’t a huge asset in terms of serving as an impressive credential, so if it’s not going to help you in your future, a post baccalaureate degree is by no means a must.