Career reboot opportunities requiring minimal experience
May 14, 2008 8:11 AM   Subscribe

What programs are offered in your field for a college graduate with little to no relevant experience who's nevertheless decided she wants to pursue a career in it?

Examples of what I mean are this sort of master's program in computer science (no prerequisities), the CELTA qualification for ESL/EFL teaching (no prerequisites), post-baccalaureate programs in medicine such as this one (a full year of calculus recommended), and post-baccalaureate programs in classics (generally require some previous language study). I'm most interested in hearing about academic programs, but I'd like to hear about non-academic, too.
posted by Cucurbit to Education (12 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Many Master of Accounting programs teach you all you need to know in one year. For example: "You cannot have more than 12.0 credit hours of prior accounting course work. If you exceed this limit, you are not eligible for admission."
posted by Dec One at 8:37 AM on May 14, 2008

Alternative route to teaching in the Chicago Public School system, other than the typical education degree.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 8:44 AM on May 14, 2008

If you have any sort of scientific background at all, there are some programs that will accept you into PhD programs, or Masters with an option to transfer to the PhD. You won't get into a top program and go on to be a research professor this way, but there are plenty of decent second-tier schools out there that will give you a chance to catch up and land a good job. I know people who came in with Environmental Science or Biology degrees that went into Chemistry.

Mental health counselling and similar degrees (Liscenced Social Worker) admit many students with no psychology or related background.
posted by Dr.Enormous at 8:50 AM on May 14, 2008

Some of the major book publishers have what is called an associates program. It's sort of a cross between an internship and a floating temp position that lasts a year and usually ends with the associate getting an entry level job within the company. Most people I know who have done it have had no previous publishing experience, not even an internship. On the more academic side, there are publishing "courses" at NYU, Columbia and a few other places that are basically summer crash-courses introducing students to the industry. These are also pretty much reserved for people with no experience. Of course, there's a difference between experience in the field and relevant experience. Most people who do such things do have some sort of liberal arts degree, were into things like creative writing, school newspaper, yearbook. Something to show that they have more than a casual interest. But really, anyone who's honestly interested can learn. If you can get in.
posted by lampoil at 8:57 AM on May 14, 2008

If you're interested in academic science, most scientists consider previous classwork to be a rather poor predictor of success at the postgraduate level. This is a good thing for your situation.

You might want to start doing hourly work at a lab that does work that interests you (this is key). It's straightforward to do dishes and make solutions (this will require only basic math to measure out chemicals). If you are self-motivated enough to show up every scheduled day and get your work done, you'll already stand out. But here's the tough part: ask your coworkers about their projects, read the literature (start with reviews and textbooks), ask questions, and show that you are willing and able to think independently about the science in the lab. Then ask for a tutorial and a small project. Again, you will mostly be judged on self-motivation and independent thought, though there's nothing wrong with asking questions.

Academic lab work conditions vary quite a bit from lab to lab. However, if you are able to find a good research environment and a sympathetic professor, they will be able to help you through both classwork and actual experience. If you're motivated (and lucky) enough to be an author on a scientific paper before applying to graduate school, it will balance out a lack of academic classwork (though you will have to make up a lot of chemistry and biology, but if you're considering medicine you should be open to this).
posted by Jorus at 8:59 AM on May 14, 2008

Penn State has an online graduate-level "certificate in applied statistics" whose prerequisite to get started is 3 credits in statistics.
posted by leahwrenn at 9:05 AM on May 14, 2008

Many MA/PhD programs on the humanities end of the spectrum (for example-- English, history, possibly comp.lit., the various "[X] studies"--East Asian, Afro-American, etc., etc.) will accept students without a formal degree in that particular subject; it's mostly just necessary to prove that you can think critically, write well, and pick up quickly on the conventions of scholarly discourse in the field. I've known, for instance, physics majors who did grad programs in sociology, English and economics (respectively), chemists and finance majors who went into history, and so forth.

Of course, it also helps to be able to demonstrate an ongoing interest in the area you're studying, but that's usually just a question of spinning a good story around whatever scraps of relevant background/experience you might have.
posted by Bardolph at 9:10 AM on May 14, 2008

Almost all of the applied/professional social science graduate programs accept students with no previous experience (though there are sometimes minimal requirements, like stats, and there is a preference for people who have worked at least peripherally in a related field). Think of Public Administration, Planning, Public Policy, etc etc etc. Other professional programs, like law schools, also don't require much in the way of specialized pre-reqs.

Honestly, this is pretty normal across a lot of fields -- within the US, at least, there is a lot of openness to career-changers and full-on rebooters, and enthusiasm can generally be substituted for experience. (Particularly because masters programs exist to make money, and you need to keep filling the slots, the barriers to entry are not usually all that high.)
posted by Forktine at 9:30 AM on May 14, 2008

There are many "accelerated" nursing programs that give you a BS in Nursing (or just a certificate) if you already have a bachelor's degree in something (anything). My school, the University of Pennsylvania, offers a slightly-under-two-year program.
posted by nursegracer at 11:05 AM on May 14, 2008

As a follow up to lampoil's comment, there's also the Portland State University Publishing Program, which is a full on Masters in Publishing. Well, technically it's in Writing, but it amounts to the same thing. Its emphasis is on small, independent publishing, but there's no special requirements beyond the usual required to get into a liberal arts Master's program.
posted by Caduceus at 12:29 PM on May 14, 2008

The post graduate diploma in law.
posted by dmt at 5:28 AM on May 15, 2008

If you do the Interdisciplinary program of the Bachelor of Creative Industries in QUT, you won't have to audition or show a portfolio. You don't get as much indepth info, but with Interdisciplinary you get to cover a range of things.
posted by divabat at 8:47 PM on August 14, 2008

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