College is supposedly the time to find ourselves, but I would argue that after college is really the era of our lives where you find your true passions — and that means going to graduate school for something completely unrelated to your undergraduate major. If you’ve never asked, “Can you go to grad school for a different major?”, this is why you should.
Most of us start college as a teenager and leave in our 20s. What you want as a teenager is vastly different from your 22-year-old mind. I chose my major based on the clubs I did in high school, what I grew up familiar with, and inspiration from older friends. Don’t get me wrong — I love my major, but I would be lying if I said it was everything I expected it to be.
Now, it’s time for graduation, which means many college students are currently figuring out what they want to do with their lives, or at least the next two to four years. The process of choosing a major in undergrad is often rushed and overwhelming. Now you’re telling me you have to learn more about a major in graduate school that you picked when you were still a teenager after four years of learning about it? Count me out.
If you need a real-life example of an unrelated grad school path working out, TikToker Anna Sitar exemplifies this. She went to undergrad for engineering, but just graduated from grad school with a Masters in film and TV production, and has amassed an online following of 11.7 million on TikTok, making a career for herself out of video content creation — not engineering. Grad school is the next step to your future career, so it only makes sense to explore a field where your true passions lie. Individuals who end up in the “wrong” job caused by the failure to know their interests and potential can lead to low levels of engagement and high levels of burnout in their careers, according to the Harvard Business Review. Attending grad school for a field directly related to your interests sets you up for success because it nurtures curiosity and motivation to gain expertise.
The expertise gained from your undergraduate major combined with the additional skill sets learned in graduate school can expand your experience and broaden the qualities you have to offer to future employers. Grad school is a time to explore something you always wanted to try, but were maybe too scared to commit to in undergrad because it was different, you weren’t familiar with it, or it wasn’t a “sufficient” career path.
Grad school has no time limit, no specific start or end dates, and no box you have to fit into. You are no longer bound to the stereotypical “college experience,” so why not create your own path? The major you studied as an undergraduate was just a stepping stone to your future, not your final destination. In fact, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York only 27% of employees with a college degree work in a field related to their major.
There is this misconception that your chances of getting into graduate school are lower if you’re pursuing something unrelated to your Bachelor’s degree. However, graduate schools look more at how you did in undergrad rather than what you studied. According to U.S. News, grad school admission offices look at students’ leadership, aptitude, community engagement, and academic performance over where or what they studied. There are many Masters programs that don’t require any specific Bachelor’s degrees such as Master of Arts in English and Humanities, Education, and Interior Design or Master of Science in Forensic and Legal Psychology, Information Technology, Mental Health Counseling, and Business Administration.
Your whole life has been a culmination of life experiences that were already mapped out for you. At age seven, you start elementary school. At age 12, middle school. At 18, you graduate high school. Then, you go to college for four years. What about a time of your life where you are in charge of your next step or where your time is spent? View grad school as a redemption round — an opportunity to do what you want, not what you thought you should do.
Listen, you don’t have to go to grad school for something completely different or unfamiliar. Instead, think of it as a chance to build on what you already love and know rather than confining yourself to one field.