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Four Plus One Program

Combined BA/MA (4+1) Program

The College of Arts & Science at Vanderbilt University offers students in most departments and programs the opportunity to earn both the Bachelor’s degree and the Master’s degree in a shorter period of time and at less cost than is normally the case. Exceptional students in the College of Arts & Science can obtain both degrees in an expedited period, typically within but not less than five years.

The usual period of study for both the Bachelor’s and the Master’s degree is six years. Through the 4+1 Option, the student with her or his advisor plans a five-year program of study. It is important to note that there is no provision for obtaining both degrees in a period shorter than five years. The program is intended for selected students for whom the Master’s degree is sufficient preparation for their career goals, is desirable as a goal in itself, or is viewed as additional preparation before pursuing a doctorate or a professional degree.

The areas of study available for the Combined BA/MA (4+1) Option within A&S is determined by individual departments and programs, who also determine the policies, degree requirements, and admissions criteria to be followed. Students will be provisionally admitted to the Combined BA/MA (4+1) program only by approval of the department or program.

Programs of Study

The 4+1 Option is currently available in the following departments and programs:

Students are welcome to discuss the Combined BA/MA (4+1) Option with any department or program listed above. Other departments and programs are expected to participate in the 4+1 Option at a later date.

A minimum of 30 semester hours is required for the master''s degree. This includes enrollment in at least 24 semester hours of formal didactic course work plus enrollment in 6 additional hours of did actic course work or 6 credit hours of research.

Admissions Overview

The Combined BA/MA program allows Vanderbilt University students to study for both degrees often, but not necessarily, in the same department. Undergraduates with strong academic records may apply for admission to the program through the department after the first semester of their junior year. Qualifying students are normally accepted into the program in the second semester of the junior year.

To apply for admission, students will first consult with the associate dean for post-baccalaureate programs. ( See contact information below ). At that time, the student will receive the appropriate form:  Petition to Apply to the Combined BA/MA (4+1) Degree Program.
The next steps are as follows:

  1. Meet with your Faculty Advisor and obtain signature.
  2. Meet with the Director of Graduate Studies or designee in the department or program to which you are applying. The department or program’s 4+1 Petition Committee will complete the boxed items below.
  3. The department or program will return this form to C. André Christie-Mizell, Dean of Undergraduate Education, College of Arts and Science, 350 Buttrick Hall.

NOTE: If this “Petition” is approved by the department or program’s 4+1 petition committee, the student must then separately apply at the end of the senior year to the Graduate School in accordance with the regular graduate application procedure. A copy of this approved “Petition to Apply to the Combined BA/MA” must accompany your application material.

Formal application to the Graduate School should be made with a view toward achieving graduate student status for the beginning of the fifth year of study. Applications can be completed on-line at GRE scores or additional admissions and degree requirements may be specified by the prospective department or program.

Admission to the 4+1 Option is highly selective. Generally speaking, admission for 4+1 students will occur in two stages. First, during the junior or senior year, once the department has confirmed his or her qualifications for the program, the student will be admitted by the department for its 4+1 track. Second, at the appropriate time, toward the end of the undergraduate studies, the student will submit the on-line application to the Graduate School for formal admission as an MA student for the fifth year—but graduate-student status is not established until after the student has the BA in hand. Importantly, until the student has completed the baccalaureate, she/he will adhere to A&S policies and procedures as stipulated in the Undergraduate Catalog. An accomplished academic record, a commitment to pursue graduate study, and a strong endorsement from Vanderbilt faculty are key elements to the successful applicant. Students will be provisionally accepted as graduate students, pending completion of all undergraduate requirements.


Prospective students should discuss with one of their advisers general information on the program and how this program is appropriate to their long-term goals. All students are encouraged to discuss their plans and goals with their undergraduate pre-major and major adviser. Especially in those cases where the intended graduate program differs from the undergraduate major, the student is further encouraged to seek advice from the advisers in the graduate program, too.


Students in this program must satisfy all requirements for both degrees. There is no double-counting of credits. Advanced Placements (AP) credits will often be used toward satisfying a comparable number of general curriculum requirements, for a maximum of 18 credit hours. The principal distinction between this program and the standard graduate program is two-fold: (1) students are allowed to take Master’s courses while completing the Bachelor’s degree; and (2) students are thereby enabled to complete both degrees within five years.

A minimum of 30 semester hours is required for the master''s degree. This includes enrollment in at least 24 semester hours of formal didactic course work plus enrollment in 6 additional hours of did actic course work or 6 credit hours of research.

In order to complete the program in five years, students will be expected to complete most, if not all, the requirements for their undergraduate degree by the end of the first semester of the senior year. It is also suggested that students begin taking graduate courses toward the Master’s degree in the second semester of the senior year. Most graduate programs participating in this option have a non-thesis plan of study requiring 30 graduate credit hours in addition to the requirements for the undergraduate degree. An average load per semester as a graduate student is 9-12 credit hours.

Scholarships and Financial Aid

Students who are receiving scholarship or other forms of financial aid as a Vanderbilt undergraduate are advised that such aid applies in most cases only toward the completion of the Bachelor’s degree or the first four years of their studies (which may include their taking some graduate courses during their senior year). Students wishing to pursue the 4+1 Option should seek support for their fifth year of study through student loans and other financial aid.


Additional information is available by consulting with:

André Christie-Mizell, Dean of Undergraduate Education
Professor of Sociology
350 Buttrick Hall
PMB 357803
phone: (615) 343-3141