Popular Trends in Graduate Education | 03.03.10

Posted in Graduate Loans By Student Loan Network Staff

As a recently graduated student, I have seen firsthand what types of programs have been big recently for my peers pursuing advanced degrees. Due to the expensive nature of post-undergraduate education, prospective students are looking for the highest value, in the shortest amount of time, at the best price possible. This has lead many schools to start offering hybrid degrees and combination programs to increase their own admissions rates, as well as cater to what students are seeking.

Graduate Students

Hybrid Degrees

If you are looking to go into a technology-related industry, such as Intellectual Property law, high-tech marketing, etc., many employers have begun to require their job candidates to possess multidisciplinary knowledge. This often involves a science background AND a business background — not exactly a common skill set. To address this need, many graduate schools have started hybrid degree programs; they contain an accelerated curriculum of two very different studies and run simultaneously. One example of this would be a Professional Science Master’s degree (P.S.M.), it is a fusion of depth learning in math, science, or engineering with a more traditional MBA program.

Headstart Degrees

A leapfrog degree, or “headstart” degree (as I like to call it), is a course of study where an undergraduate student spends their last one or two semesters taking graduate classes to shorten the length of their Master’s degree. This is accomplished by taking all core and required classes at the expense of free electives, and then spending all those free electives at the end of your time in school on graduate classes. Not every school allows this, but it is becoming very popular — ask your academic adviser for more details.

Combination Degrees

Arguably one of the most popular trends in recent years, the combination degree has gained a lot of traction in higher education. Essentially, it allows you to compact two advanced degrees into an accelerated course of study that can potentially shave a year or two off your studies. The most widely adopted incarnation of this concept is the joint MBA/JD programs offered by many universities with business and law schools.

Online Degrees

Recently, online degrees have exploded in volume due to their more flexible nature. As a working adult, it is far easier to take an online course than a brick & mortar one because they are offered at more times during the day, and they allow you to complete your coursework on a schedule that is more tailored to your lifestyle. Practically every common degree has an online version as well, so check an online school out if you need to work but still want to earn an advanced degree.

One thing I can advise about these programs is that with the exception of the leapfrog degree, they are all very academically rigorous and intense. If you choose to undergo a hybrid or combination degree, taking out loans is pretty much a necessity to keep your financial stress level low and allow you to focus on your studies. Remember to file your FAFSA to apply for federal financial aid (yes, it absolutely is available to grad students), and if necessary, a private student loan can help cover your other expenses.

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43 Responses to “Popular Trends in Graduate Education”

  1. meg says on March 22, 2010 at 9:57 pm:

    good to know :)

    Reply To This Comment
  2. Thomas says on March 22, 2010 at 3:03 pm:

    This is great! Education is evolving!

    Reply To This Comment
  3. Jasmine says on March 22, 2010 at 5:04 pm:


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  4. Claudia says on March 22, 2010 at 1:25 am:

    The information was helpful. Now I'll definitely consider some of those degrees of which i didn't know before.

    Reply To This Comment
  5. Lauren says on March 18, 2010 at 2:03 pm:

    I was unaware that the Headstart degree might be available. I am going to school online to complete my Bachelor's, and I'd like to continue to finish my Master's. Completing graduate studies while paying for undergraduate classes could be really beneficial. I wonder if they adjust the prices for graduate classes.

    Reply To This Comment
  6. Graham says on March 17, 2010 at 4:00 pm:

    Good information to know. Thanks

    Reply To This Comment
  7. Yolanda says on March 17, 2010 at 3:40 pm:

    This hybrid degree sounds intresting and i may consider in going into that field

    Reply To This Comment
  8. Shakari says on March 16, 2010 at 10:49 pm:

    Very interesting

    Reply To This Comment
  9. Victoria says on March 16, 2010 at 9:23 am:

    thanks for the info

    Reply To This Comment
  10. Zuleima says on March 16, 2010 at 5:07 am:

    Thank you for the information it really helps you.

    Reply To This Comment
  11. JVictor says on March 13, 2010 at 8:59 pm:


    Reply To This Comment
  12. LUIS says on March 12, 2010 at 11:14 pm:


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  13. Julie says on March 12, 2010 at 10:25 pm:

    I think you have to be the right type of person to take on such an intense load. Especially to forego the electived that help us stay in school and make it a little less stressful. Its good to have options, but this wouldnt be for everybody.

    Reply To This Comment
  14. Oscar says on March 12, 2010 at 2:01 am:

    I agree they really brake down concepts and categorizing

    Reply To This Comment
    • Kristina says on March 13, 2010 at 3:39 pm:

      If you cannot spell break I don't think you have to worry about getting into graduate school.

      Reply To This Comment
  15. Angelica says on March 9, 2010 at 10:40 pm:

    Thanks for the blog! I really think that will gone to be so helpful

    Reply To This Comment
  16. Kaiereana says on March 9, 2010 at 3:40 pm:

    so after undergraduate college it would be best to try to presume graduate college as well.

    Reply To This Comment
  17. samuel says on March 7, 2010 at 11:54 pm:

    this is really nice it blows my mind too

    Reply To This Comment
  18. Lia says on March 6, 2010 at 5:08 am:

    I wonder if a hybrid degree would be necessary when getting ready for med school. . . nvm I'm just confused.

    Reply To This Comment
  19. Laurie says on March 5, 2010 at 5:53 am:

    This information is excellent! I was unaware of the different types available. Thanks for offering this information.

    Reply To This Comment
  20. Laurie says on March 5, 2010 at 5:48 am:

    This blog was very helpful in categorizing the different types of degree options out there. This is the only place I have seen the breakdown of this typeof information.

    Reply To This Comment
    • Evan Jacobs says on March 9, 2010 at 3:49 pm:

      Glad to "lead the curve" so to speak! If you're interested in keeping up with this information and other relevant blogs, check us out on Twitter @studentloannet

      Reply To This Comment
  21. amanda says on March 4, 2010 at 9:35 pm:

    Very nice information. I will consider the hybrid degree, it sounds great.

    Reply To This Comment
  22. annabel says on March 4, 2010 at 12:02 am:

    great post, i'll definitely consider a hybrid degree.

    Reply To This Comment
  23. maira says on March 3, 2010 at 11:46 pm:

    thanks for the info

    Reply To This Comment
  24. maira says on March 3, 2010 at 11:46 pm:

    thanks for the information it makes me think a lot

    Reply To This Comment
  25. shannon says on March 3, 2010 at 8:57 pm:

    this just blows my mind!

    Reply To This Comment
    • tiara says on March 3, 2010 at 10:17 pm:

      yes i know it is making my life so much eassier it's like 123

      Reply To This Comment

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