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Pursuing a masters in a field unrelated to my bachelors in liberal arts


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I recently graduated from a good public university in my state (ranked in the 50's nationally) with a double major in Government and Latin American Studies. I graduated a year early and am currently looking to work full-time for a year before attending graduate school. Despite being a liberal arts graduate, I have been able to get a few job interviews here and there. Of course, they do not pay as well as say an engineering or business degree, but I am fortunate in that I was granted a few interviews. 


Anyway, as much as I love my majors, I do not want the same uncertainty of not being able to find a job after getting my masters (especially since masters programs are much more expensive). I was wondering what your thoughts were on pursuing a masters program in a field unrelated to your bachelors. After obtaining my masters, I want to live in Houston (where my family and fiancé reside). Originally I wanted to get a masters in Public Administration at Texas A&M. However, I can't lie and say I'm not concerned about getting a well-paying job once I graduate. I am worried that a degree in Public Administration is not as valuable as say an economics, finance, or engineering masters. Because I have family to support, I want to make sure that my masters degree is a desirable one in the job market.


I was thinking about pursuing a more sensible masters in Marketing, Economics, or even an engineering field. However, I'm worried that I will be weeded out once I am in the masters programs considering that I am just a little liberal arts major with no math/science courses. If anyone has ever decided to pursue a masters in a different field than your bachelors, how did it go? Is it possible to be successful despite my liberal arts background? Thanks in advance  :)


P.S. I was accepted into a few law schools this upcoming Fall semester, but I decided to opt out of a J.D. because taking out 100k in loans just for tuition was just not possible for my family and I. 

Edited by shelleyhdz
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 Marketing, Economics, or even an engineering field.


With the exception of Marketing, those fields are very math heavy. The general calculus you will need for either of those fields is actually not very hard as long as you study hard and practice it a lot, but you do need to take up to Calc III, Linear Algebra, and a statistics course that uses regression analysis to get into most Economics MAs. Assuming you know your algebra well, that's six courses. Perhaps you should consider trying those courses at your local university or community college to get a feel for them. If you want to go into engineering, which I can't speak to but would assume needs some chem, phys, and egr courses on top of the same math courses, plus a co-op or a project of some sort, you'll probably have to do a post-bac, but there's no point in spending the money if you try say Calc I and discover that you hate math.


As for job security, an Economics MA is a very general degree. People looking to become more sought-after post-bac usually get masters in Finance or Accounting, or work for a couple of years and get an MBA. An Economics MA certainly has some kind of pay off, especially if it's a name-brand institution, but typically you have to have an idea of what industry you're going into after the MA, which typically means having prior internships or some other kind of personal network. I think you can work in government with an Econ MA, but from what I've gathered, there are Master's programs specifically geared towards placing their graduates in govt administration, and it would be a more sound decision, to go into them. The biggest value of an Economics MA is as a stepping stone to the PhD, for instance if you graduated college in an unrelated field, like you did, or if you need to make up mediocre grades.


I can't speak to engineering or marketing, but I've heard from some friends that engineering MAs aren't sought out by employers because most people go on to the PhD straight from college.


Have you tried programming?

Edited by ExponentialDecay
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Thanks for the reply. Right now I am leaning more towards an MA in Marketing for sure because it seems more closely related my bachelors field compared to Economics or Engineering. However, I want to make sure that I do not get a masters in something that very few employers want. Getting a post-bac would be too expensive, you are right- I do not want to do that (and can't afford another four years with no scholarships this time). As much as I would love to call myself an engineer, I doubt that I will be able to jump right into engineering programs.


In terms of programming, I honestly have no idea. I do not know much about it, but now that you mention it I will look into it. Do you mean a Masters in say MIS? 


Right now I obviously have no idea what I'm doing haha. Like I said above, originally I was going to law school (but that's a LOT of money). Then I was going to do Public Administration (but I'm not sure if that major is desirable in the job market). So I really do appreciate the input! 

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My suggestion? Learn to program. Take CS classes on the side, online, anywhere you can. Solve problems on project euler. Learn C++, Python and Java. Learn how to make iOS apps. The tech industry is very liberal, especially start ups, for people who are self taught and creative. 


You quite simply will not be successful in an engineering program; you are about 10-15 classes short of being prepared (depending on how much math, physics, and chemistry you have had). And these 10-15 classes might be significantly harder than any class you have ever taken as an undergrad, both conceptually and competitively. 


Econ grad programs are SUPER competitive. Even if you could be successful in one, which I dont really know what kinds of classes they cover, I do know that even econ/mathematics majors have trouble getting into econ graduate programs. 

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The solution to a problem is never to throw more money at the problem. Money can only be part of the implementation of a solution; that is to say, you need to first spend significant effort analyzing and deciding what course of action to take, and then only worry about how to bring that course of action into being.

I agree with you that if you are wary about law school, you should not go. However, now that you've liquidated what has been your plan for, I guess, many years, you feel confused and you are pacing. You need to stop, gather yourself, get a job doing what you can (many recent graduates work below their education level, and there are worse fates than hitting up that retail sector again) and spend significant time and effort researching:

- what you are capable of doing. I don't say what you want to do, though for me the two intersect, but what you are able to do day in day out at full concentration. The fields you speak about are highly competitive and you are a person of limited, judging by your credentials, mathematical and scientific background. You simply will not survive if you cannot do math on par with your colleagues. Do you even know if you can?

- what the job market in your area is like. You say you are geographically immobile for family reasons, therefore, general employment trends for your are unimportant. You need to look at local employment trends. Whilst my experience tells me that a degree that has a high chance of propelling you into a govt position is more valuable than a marketing degree, I do not know the situation in Houston and I am inclined to trust your intuition. But you shouldn't. If your only concern is getting an above min wage job in Houston, you need to pick up your local paper and see which section has the most job ads.

One does not go into economics or engineering looking for a middle class sinecure, simply because the level of effort and talent (former more important) to succeed against your peers is so high. They are far from your only options and they shouldn't be your first options if you're not deathly passionate about either. The trades have become very lucrative in recent years; an electrician or the dude who catches snakes earns in the low six figures, if not more. There are the popular options like nursing and programming, or getting a teaching cert. Any or all of these options may be untenable to you for whatever reason. I'm just suggesting.

tl;dr you need to figure out what you want and what you can achieve before signing up for another degree

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