Earning a master’s degree that takes two years to complete is a big investment. Not only are you putting two years of your time and energy into this degree, but you are also spending tens of thousands of dollars – and perhaps even more, depending on the tuition cost at your school – on your education. Fortunately, not all graduate school programs require students to commit to two years of study and tuition costs. Some of the fastest schools for earning a master’s degree in math allow students to cut the time to degree completion in half.
Standalone One-Year Master’s in Mathematics Programs
Even among accelerated master’s degree programs, math students have options. They can study applied mathematics at the University of Washington. NC State University offers non-thesis master’s degree programs in both mathematics and applied mathematics that take one to two years to complete. The University of Maryland, Baltimore County offers a 12-month path to a Master of Arts in Teaching program that includes the option to become certified in mathematics. Western Governors University offers master’s-level teacher preparation programs for aspiring math teachers at the elementary school, middle school and high school levels. Some students at Western Governors University complete their Master of Arts in Mathematics Education degrees in as little as six months.
Schools can use a number of methods to more quickly equip graduate students with the same volume of information found in a traditional two-year program. Programs may be set up for year-round study instead of taking a break between the spring and fall semesters. Graduate students in one of these accelerated programs might have a fuller workload than their peers at other schools.
Another way to graduate faster is to attain college credits for other educational experience beyond the ones you are gaining in school through your current studies. Students can benefit from choosing a college or university that awards prior learning credit for their past experiences, particularly if they:
- Began a master’s degree program elsewhere but haven’t yet finished it
- Have been part of the workforce long enough to compile a portfolio of their relevant work
- Have undergone some sort of professional training or certification process
- Have gained sufficient knowledge on the job to pass standardized tests
Finally, some schools make it quicker to earn your degree by offering courses in accelerated formats. A school like Western Governors University that charges by the term, rather than the credit or class, encourages students to complete as many courses during a single six-month term as possible. Some very dedicated students complete their entire master’s degree in just one term.
Don’t confuse a fast degree program for an easy program. Accelerated master’s degree programs in math are just as difficult as traditional programs. In fact, the heavy workload and condensed time to complete your studies may make accelerated programs even harder.
Five-Year Dual-Degree Programs
If you’re already thinking about graduate school despite not having finished your bachelor’s degree yet, you’re ahead of the game. This foresight can offer you a great opportunity. Most mathematician roles require a graduate degree, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported. Starting to think about graduate school now can allow you to find a school that offers a dual-degree “4+1” program. These math degree programs award both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree after just five years of study, saving you not only another year of school but also the hassle of applying to graduate school separately.
These 4+1 degree programs are becoming popular among students of mathematics. Schools like NC State University offer this option with a graduate degree in either pure mathematics or applied mathematics. The University of Cincinnati allows students to mix and match degree options, starting with either a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in mathematical sciences and progressing to a Master of Science (M.S.) degree in either mathematical sciences or statistics. At Wright State University in Ohio, students earn a B.S. and an M.S. degree in their choice of mathematics, applied mathematics or applied statistics.
These 4+1 accelerated degree programs cut down the time it takes to earn your master’s degree in a different way. Students take both graduate and undergraduate coursework during their senior year of study, and those graduate credits count toward both the bachelor’s and master’s degree.