As a high school student, looking into different program and major options is extremely overwhelming.

Some students know exactly what they want to do with their future – and kudos to them! For these students, the most challenging aspect is matching a program best suited for their needs, both financially and academically.

The typical formula is four years of undergrad –> receive a Bachelor’s degree –> apply to grad school –> two years of grad school–> receive a master’s degree.

However, there are some programs that permit students to receive a degree higher than a Bachelor’s degree without spending more time in grad school or a doctorate program.  Fortunately, Gannon University offers these programs for the highly motivated student.

Example: I’m admitted into Gannon University’s five year master’s program for occupational therapy. I completed four years of undergraduate school, received a bachelor’s degree in health science, and am currently completing my year in graduate school. Instead of completing four years of undergrad, applying to a grad school, and two years of a graduate program to achieve my master’s (totaling 6 years of school), I applied to GU’s OT program, complete the required five years of school, and pop out with my master’s degree in occupational therapy.

Luckily, Gannon Admissions can explain these types of accelerated programs way better than I can.

Seeing as how I’m currently enrolled in a five year master’s program, I’ve cultivated many benefits to these types of degree options. Here’s some of the benefits I’ve noted throughout my five years of school:

1. You’re immediately accepted into your major as a freshman

Some colleges require students to test into their programs. For example, you’ll spend two years as an undeclared or pre-___ major, then have to take an exam to determine if you can continue with the program. The main issue with these types of programs is always the uncertainty of what happens if you do not pass the test to get into your major. Where do you go from that point? One of my favorite aspects about these accelerated programs is that security. You’re admitted into your major immediately and can start taking relevant classes as a freshman.

2. No applying for grad school!

Ask any college senior: applying for grad school is the worst. In addition to all of the other things you have to worry about your senior year of school, you also have to take the time to look at schools and programs. This can add a lot of extra stress to your plate. Being in an accelerated program means that you’re already accepted into a built-in grad school, so no pesky applications!

3. No grad school testing

No grad school means no pesky grad school testing like the MCAT or GMAT. This means you can enjoy your senior year of school without the added stress of studying for a career-altering exam! Trust me, you’ll be busy enough your senior year without an exam date looming over your head.

4. Finished with school early

There are many benefits of finishing your entire education early. Some people choose to do this for financial reasons; four years of undergraduate school, plus two to three years of grad school, takes quite the toll on a pocketbook. Some people do it just to get started with their professional lives as soon as possible. You get to start your career two to three years earlier than a majority of your colleagues. This means you’re on the cutting edge of finding a job and earning a salary!

I won’t sugarcoat it; these types of programs are tough.

They will challenge you academically and prepare you for your professional life. You’ll be taking on a full and rigorous course load that prepares you for the real world. This means no skipping class, mandatory dress codes and professional conduct for every class.

While it’s definitely challenging, I wouldn’t have traded my decision to join the five-year OT program for anything. I’m so glad I chose an accelerated program opposed to the traditional route because this means I get to start my career in a field that I love as soon as possible!

Learn more and apply to Gannon’s occupational therapy program here.