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Changing Your Degree Program: What You Should Consider

Changing Your Degree Program: What You Should Consider

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Learn more about degree programs at American Public University.

By Abe Anfinson
Academic Advisor, APUS

“Should I change my degree?” As an academic advisor, I get this question from students almost daily.

Some students are about to take their first course and want to know if they’re on the right path. Others are rethinking their academic goals, but they’re worried about losing credit. Still others are looking for the fastest route to graduation. Whatever your reasons, here are some solid principles to keep in mind before making a change.

Start with Your Long-Term Academic Goals and Work Backward

Students often get stalled in this process because they lose sight of their destination or they are redefining that destination. Before you change to another degree path, find out where you want that new path to lead.

I recommend that you start at the end. Search job postings for the career you’re interested in and learn the standard requirements for that job. Job postings will usually tell you exactly what kind of education and experience companies seek in a candidate. Once you have that information, take another step backward and figure out how to acquire those qualifications.

For example, if the job requires a certain type of master’s degree and you are in a bachelor’s degree program, research schools that offer that master’s program and their pre-admission requirements. Do they require a specific type of undergraduate degree or GPA for enrollment? Take a look at your current degree and see if you are on the right track.

What if You Do Not Know Your Destination Yet and the Degree Program You’ll Need?

Sometimes, the direction you need to take is not clear. It will take more work to find that intersection between your aptitude and your career interests. If you are not yet sure which direction you want to take but you know your current program won’t help you go in that direction, I have two recommendations.

First, remember that general education courses (English, history, science and the arts) are a solid starting point because these courses are required for almost all degrees. That makes them a great way to explore various disciplines and find your niche early.

Second, keep in mind that the stakes increase the further you go into your degree program. The more courses you complete – especially degree-specific courses – the higher the probability that you will lose some credit if you shift to another program.

That is why it is wise to ask these questions early. If you are going to change academic programs, start that process sooner rather than later.

Never Be Afraid to Ask for Advice about Changing Your Degree Program

Quite a few factors come into play when you change your program. They include your new program enrollment deadline, degree change eligibility and possible catalog changes in the courses offered for that degree.

If you use an outside funding source like Federal Student Aid or tuition assistance, you will have additional policy changes to consider.

Frankly, changing programs can be overwhelming at times. But remember that academic advisors are here to help you.

If you are considering a degree change, feel free to contact us by phone at 877-755-2787, online chat or by email. We will be happy to discuss your goals and help you find your best options.

Committing to a degree program is a substantial investment of your time and resources. We want to make sure you are confident in the pursuit of your ultimate career goals.

Learn more about degree programs at American Public University.

About the Author

Abe Anfinson has been an Academic Advisor with American Public University System since 2013. He completed his bachelor’s degree in Intercultural Studies and enjoys helping students plan their academic futures.

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