BLUF: Will having a Masters degree (in Management) without having a Bachelors hurt my career?


I am an IT professional without a degree and have worked my way up to Associate Vice President at a fortune 500 company.  I have over 12 years of management experience at multiple companies and I recently found a program, from an accredited college, that will waive the Bachelors requirement for those with a minimum of 60 college credits (which I have 101) and "equivalent bachelors experience".  While I haven't officially been accepted (there are still several hurdles I need to jump through) the Director of Admissions thinks that it won't be a problem if that's what I want to do.  Once I complete the program, I will have a Masters of Management without a Bachelor's degree.  From those that I have talked to, including several senior managers, they don't think it's a real problem, but my wife thinks it's not really going to help me without getting the undergraduate degree first.

Any thoughts?




tmliz's picture

 I think you would be in good shape! My brother will have a PhD without a Master's.....a program I had not heard of before him. I think if you're asked about it in an interview, the explanation you give above regarding the "equivalent experience" is perfect. I know I would be impressed as an HR Manager. Good luck!

RDHodgson's picture

I don't see why this should be a problem. You spent 3-4 years in the college of life whilst others were cramped over books. And then you went back and got a bit of focused, specialist knowledge. There is absolutely zero reason to see that as a bad thing. 

AppleJack's picture
Training Badge

I've done a bit of work in higher education and generally you must have an undergraduate degree in order to apply for a graduate degree. It might not hurt your career, but it does sound a little suspicious. Could be a problem if it turned out that the college or their accrediting body was not legit.

A PhD program is different, because many traditional doctoral programs (in the old days) required that you do a certain amount of masters level work in the process of getting your PhD. Since not everyone would make it through to the doctorate, some PhD programs award masters degree midway. More recently there are far more masters level programs, as having a graduate degree becomes more desirable among non-academic employers, whereas PhDs were (in the past) destined for research and tenured teaching gigs.

It's possible the college has a similar program in that they transfer in your previous undergrad credit, award you a bachelors and then you work towards your masters. Many colleges are doing anything they can to attract adult students these days.

If you don't mind: I'm curious what school you are looking at and who has accredited them? Feel free to private message me, if you don't want to post it here.


jocadl's picture

Hello, Calpron,

like others before, I really don't see how this could be a problem.

Today, you are a guy with zero degrees (no master, no bachelor). Soon, you could be a guy with one degree (no bachelor but master). That's one more accomplishment, whichever way you see it.

Of course, someone might construe a problem or hurdle from your lack of a Bachelor's degree. But that's their choice based on their negativity, and nothing you could possibly do anything about. If you try to please them and skip around this issue, they'll find something else to blame.

Just my two cents, of couse. I might be totally off.


DelGray's picture

Here is an irony - I am from the UK and for everyone that does not know the system:

GCSEs - basic stuff you do when you are 16, most people that go to university will get 8 of these at least.

A Levels - bit advanced  you do when you are 18, anywhere from 2 to 4 of these - 3 is standard.

BSc - 3-4 year unversity course;  MSc - 1-2 year Masters Course; PhD - anywhere from 3 to 6 years research, not a course though.

I have 3 degrees (BSc, MSc and PhD) - but one of  my A Levels  is not as good as I would like (or it should be) - I think in the US this would be like having a poor-ish GPA.

My poorest subject was maths, but now having done 3 degrees in physics - with much more advanced maths than my A Level and having over 12 years industry experience I kinda think that a couple of low level exam result could be forgiven, if not fogotten.

Yet, almost all consultancies still say what are your A Level grades and then proceed to not interview me based on this single answer (which I freely give).

It maybe looked at as a little odd you will have a masters but no bachelor degree, but the irony I am getting to is that I expect not having a BSc would of hurt me LESS than having a poor A Level (the other 2 are OK).  If you were English, I would just say I hope your A Levels (GPA) is ok, because it seems 8 years of study and 12 years of professional service counts for zip against a couple of days one summer 20+ years ago.

OK roll out the story of there are dozens of candidates with 3 degrees, we have to be able to sift them somehow - but really, based on the A Levels - this is the choice of how, not the list of work based relevent acheivements on the CV - A levels - that is what is chosen - "you must be smoking crack if you think that is a relevent measure".

ALLFORONE's picture

What college or university is offering a PhD degree without an undergrad? Please. Thanks.

naraa's picture
Training Badge

 That is crazy to me.  Study is one thing and work is another.  I don't disagree some people without a degree through experience can get as much or more knowledge as someone who studies.  But if this is the case then you should take some test and some university recognizes your knowledge, you would perhaps need to take a few more credits and get a bachelor degree before doing a master.  To me that would make more sense.  But then it all depends on the reputation of the course you are considering.  I would really look into the programs reputation.  Not knowing about it i risk guessing that you could perhaps benefit more from getting a bachelors degree recognition from a good college.

Delgray your story is also crasy.  Just goes to show how ridiculous it has all become that we base the evaluation of people on a grade, and kids as low as 6 years old are stressed out from too much study and too little sleep.

I have to say i live in South america, só it maybe different than in the us, but here a person without a bachelors degree in Business would not pass the screening process for a position that requires a Higher education degree, even holding a master on it, it would look suspicious.



Aaronsmith's picture

yes , you get master without bachlor's .


but it depends on your program .




dhdvikas's picture

i think  its not compulsory to do bachelor first . you should do it with open university many of the open university provide this program of degree and then you can do master i think its not big issue.

rohan_bhargav's picture

Thinking this way is pessimism 


mikestanley's picture

I've worked in IT in higher-ed for 16 years.  While I could see the Masters w/o Bachelors thing possibly raising some eyebrows at a university, I can't imagine it would anywhere else.  You're going to list the highest degree you've achieved, and if anybody asks about undergrad work, then you can explain the situation.