Combined B.A./M.A.

students in a classroom discussing political science

Combined B.A./M.A.

Students with a master’s degree in political science typically earn higher incomes than those with just a bachelor’s. It is possible to finish both the B.A. and the M.A. degree in five years at Iowa State—possibly even in four years if you come to Ames with college credits earned while in high school. Here are two ways to combine the degrees:

Concurrent-Degree Program

Under this option, you are simultaneously an undergraduate finishing up your B.A. and a graduate student working on your M.A. As a concurrent-degree student you can take additional graduate classes that count toward the M.A. while still finishing your B.A. You are additionally allowed to double-count two classes (6 credits) of 4000- or 5000-level Political Science courses (or, sometimes, 3000- or 4000-level courses in related disciplines), applying them to both degrees.

Sequential Degree Program

Under this option, you proceed directly to the M.A. program Iowa State upon obtaining your bachelor’s degree (in political science or another field). As with the concurrent-degree option, you can double-count two classes from your undergraduate degree, leaving only 24 credits to be completed. A standard graduate-credit load of 9 credits per semester during the fall and spring, plus 6 credits during the summer, achieves this.

Which Program Is Better?

It depends on your situation. If you still need to fulfill many requirements for your undergraduate degree program as graduation approaches, the sequential degree program makes more sense. If on the other hand you mostly have electives remaining, you can use those to work on the concurrent degree program.

Also, some students have scholarships or financial aid that depend on being an undergraduate. Those funds could be at risk with the concurrent degree program. The concurrent degree program also requires paying the higher graduate tuition rate so the sequential degree program might be preferred unless the concurrent plan allows you to save a semester later. However, you may be eligible for an assistantship to help pay for graduate coursework.

Next Steps

Please contact Mack Shelley, the Director of Graduate Education, for more information.