Everyone's needs for a Bachelor's program are different – so how do you find a course with the right options for you? Here are some things to consider when searching for a flexible Bachelor's program.
Flexibility in time commitment: Part time versus Full time
In some countries, such as the UK, the vast majority of Bachelor's students are full-time. Some courses have part-time options which are good for those who want to work while they study, or for those who have other requirements on their time. But these courses are relatively uncommon, and universities are generally set up to be more focused on full-time students. It is usually expected that Bachelor's students should graduate in three to four years.
However, this isn't the case everywhere. In Germany, for example, it's very common for Bachelor's students to work while they study. Students may choose to take between one and four units per semester, depending on how much time they have. They gradually accrue completed units until they have enough for graduation. Therefore, it's common for Bachelor's students to take five years or sometimes more before they graduate, giving more flexibility.
So if you know you want to do a part time course, the availability of such courses might depend on the country that you're in. Take time to look around at the offerings of different universities and see how common it is for them to have part-time students. You might find an institution like Birkbeck, University of London, which specialises in part-time study and offers many more flexible courses than other more traditional universities.
Flexibility in subject matter: Interdisciplinary subjects, dual degrees, and more
But what if you're not sure which subject to choose? The good news is that there can be flexibility here too. It's increasingly common to find interdisciplinary Bachelor's programs such as those in Cognitive Science, Interdisciplinary Engineering, or Interdisciplinary Arts. These kind of programs will bring together knowledge and skills from several disciplines to give you a more rounded education. They give you the chance to study many different subjects, so you can find which approaches and methods are most appealing to you.
However, although such interdisciplinary programs are becoming more common, they are not offered by every university. But there are other ways that you can study a diverse program for your Bachelor's degree. You can always do a dual degree, in which you choose two majors or a major and a minor, such as Mathematics and Music, or History and Art. Be aware that studying two totally different subjects can be a big challenge though! It's very interesting to get the perspective of two different fields, but it means that you need to know twice as much about methods and the basic essentials of a subject. Dual degrees can therefore be quite a challenge.
Another option which is available at some universities is a very broad course, such as an Interdisciplinary Studies degree. With these courses, you can pick any units from any subject to make up your Bachelor's degree. This can be tremendously fun and a great way to learn about many different topics. However, be aware that these degrees are often not as well respected as a single subject Bachelor's, and may not be taken as seriously by employers or by higher education institutions if you want to keep studying. An exception to this is a US-style Liberal Arts course, which is fairly common in that country and is generally well-respected.
A further option is you are looking for a flexible course of study is to take a single subject course, but to do additional units from other subjects. Some universities have a flexible policy where each year you have to take seven units from your main subject, for example, and one unit from any other subject. This allows you to learn flexibly while staying within a structured program.
Finally, don't forget that you can always change your course if you find that you don't like it. For example, you might start out studying a dual degree in Mathematics and Physics, but find that you're more interested in the maths than in the science – so you could drop the physics and convert to a single-subject degree in mathematics. Or you could move from one subject to a related one – from a Psychology degree to a Sociology degree, for example. It's worth asking the universities you are thinking of applying to about their policies for transferring subjects to know how much flexibility there is available to you.
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