Skip to main content
Vanderbilt Background Photo

Four Plus One Program

About the Combined B.A./M.A. (4+1) Program

The College of Arts & Science's 4+1 program offers the opportunity to earn both a bachelor's and a master's degree in just five years, instead of the usual six. The program is ideal for highly motivated, exceptional students who:

  • Need a master's degree to pursue a particular career
  • Want to strengthen their applications for graduate or professional school
  • Are deeply interested in their field of study and want to pursue more advanced inquiry

Compared to a traditional path to a master's degree, the 4+1 program allows students to save both time and money through an accelerated course of study.

Programs of Study

Availability of the program varies by department. Currently, a 4+1 option is available in the following areas of study:

The list of participating departments changes periodically. Students are encouraged to discuss the possibility of earning a combined B.A./M.A. with departments that are not listed above.

Admissions Requirements and Application Process

Admission to the 4+1 program is through the relevant department and is highly selective. Applicants should have an accomplished academic record, demonstrate a commitment to pursue graduate study, and obtain a strong endorsement from faculty. Prior to applying to the program, interested students should meet with their academic advisers to determine whether the 4+1 program is a suitable choice, given the student's long-term goals.

Each department sets its own admissions requirements and policies. However, the admissions process generally follows the steps below. Note that some departments require students to apply to the 4+1 program as early as the first semester of the junior year.

Typical admissions process:

  1. Download and complete the Petition to Apply to the Combined BA/MA (4+1) Degree Program.
  2. Meet with your faculty adviser to obtain his or her signature on the form.
  3. Meet with the department's designated contact (usually the Director of Graduate Studies) to discuss admission to the program.
  4. If the department admits you to its program, the DGS or designated contact will deliver your petition to the Dean's Office for approval.
  5. Following approval from the Dean's Office, apply online for admission to the Graduate School. A copy of your approved petition must accompany your application.
  6. If admitted, you will be granted provisional graduate student status until you have completed the requirements for the B.A.

Degree Requirements

All students in the program must satisfy the requirements for both the B.A. and the M.A., as determined by the department. There is no double-counting of credits. The principal distinction between the 4+1 program and the standard graduate program is twofold: (1) students are allowed to take master’s-level courses while completing the bachelor’s degree; and (2) students are thereby enabled to complete both degrees within five years instead of six. 

Generally, a minimum of 30 semester hours is required for the master's degree. This includes enrollment in at least 24 semester hours of formal coursework, plus enrollment in 6 hours of coursework or research. Most departments participating in this program have a non-thesis option for the master's degree. 

In order to complete the program in five years, students should plan to fulfill most, if not all, the requirements for their undergraduate degree by the end of the first semester of the senior year. Students should also plan to start taking graduate courses in the second semester of the senior year.

Scholarships and Financial Aid

Undergraduate financial aid generally only applies to the completion of the bachelor's degree and the first four years of study. Students wishing to pursue the 4+1 option should seek support for their fifth year of study through student loans and other outside sources.

Contact Information

Carrie Russell, Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Education
Director of Pre-Law Advising and Senior Lecturer in Political Science
350 Buttrick Hall
phone: (615) 322-5023
email: carrie.russell@vanderbilt.edu