NUS Concurrent Degree Programme: What is it?

Hi everyone! I am back once again with a new article for you all! This time, it’s about something called a concurrent degree programme (or CDP).

What is a CDP?

Now, if you’re wondering what exactly a CDP is, don’t worry. I’ll explain. A CDP, or a concurrent degree programme, is a special degree option for NUS undergraduate students. Under this degree, a student can obtain both a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree in just five years. Generally, a Bachelor’s would take four years, and a Master’s would require approximately two years of study. This means that the CDP cuts short your total time by a full year! But don’t worry; even with a shortened time frame, the academic rigour is still maintained. Both the quantity and the quality of your learning will match that of a regular Master’s programme.

Not a bad deal, right?

The catch is that you will likely have to start taking Master-level modules in year four of your undergraduate degree. Also, CDP programmes probably require you to take modules that are known for being difficult — for example, the CDP offered by the Department of Psychology requires me to take psychometrics, a module where the average is approximately a C. I am only familiar with the CDP for psychology, and other degrees will likely have different requirements. However, I think all CDPs are academically rigorous in their own way, and the demands of a CDP programme would likely be relatively high regardless.

How Many CDPs Are There?

If this offer sounds tempting, I’m sure you’re wondering whether your degree offers a CDP. Well, NUS has a website listing all the available CDP programmes. It outlines both the Bachelor’s degree and the Master’s degree, so feel free to check if it is relevant to you. After finding the appropriate programme, you can google it to see more details, such as the requirements for graduation.

My potential CDP is the Bachelor of Social Science and Master of Social Sciences in Psychology. I googled ‘NUS CDP psychology’, and found the website listing the requirements, the application process, and the modules I need to take. It also lists additional requirements, such as attending workshops on research and attending departmental seminars. You can look around to get a better sense of the programme’s expectations, and to see the potential benefits offered.

CDP: How to Apply

And now we reach the crucial question: how exactly does one apply for a CDP? Well, the unfortunate part is that you can’t. Well, that’s not entirely true. It depends on where you are in your academic journey and what CDP degree you are applying to. There are three CDPs (link to website here) that you can only be admitted into after a period of study, i.e. you are already studying at NUS, and were invited to apply.

If you have not applied to NUS, you can apply to the CDP programmes directly, but do note that they can be competitive given the rigorous nature of the programme. Additionally, the CDP is not subsidized by the government, meaning that you will have to pay full fees. It can be expensive, so do take note.

Some factors I would consider is whether you even need a Master’s degree for your course. For example, in psychology, if you are not going into clinical psychology or research, you don’t really need a Master’s. You can get your Bachelor’s and find a job. So perhaps think about why you want the Master’s, and whether the cost justifies the degree.

If you are already in NUS, unfortunately, you cannot apply for the CDP. So, how exactly do you get in? Well, you actually have to be invited. In year three semester 1, the NUS Psychology Department sent out an email to students who meet certain criteria, and invited them to apply. The criteria for psychology CDP specifically is listed on the CDP website, but some things to note include the grade requirements (i.e. need an average grade of A- for PL2131, PL2132 and the lab module, need psychology GPA above 4.3). Only when you get this email invitation can you even apply for the program. If you are aiming for a CDP, feel free to search up your own CDP course and check your degree-specific requirements.

CDP Application Process

Let’s say you’ve been invited. How do you apply?

Well, first, you have to submit certain documents. Again, each CDP is degree-specific, so the requirements for a psychology CDP might not apply to a business CDP, for example.

But, for psychology majors who are interested, the website does state the specific requirements, so I’m not going to repeat them. What I will do instead is give advice. I was personally unprepared for the CDP — I did not think they would ask me, and I was actually on exchange at the time. This was difficult for me, because for the CDP application, you need two letters of recommendation by professors. As a student on exchange, it was significantly harder because I wasn’t really under any NUS professor, and while my exchange professors technically can write a letter for me, they barely knew me at the time (I was two months into my exchange).

And so, what I will say to all possible CDP candidates is: start building good relations with your professors. I know it can be hard, because tutorials are generally taught by TAs. But do your best. Of course, TAs can technically write your letter of recommendation, but all things being equal, it is best to find a professor.

I was very lucky to have taken a lab module under Professor Steven Pan before I left for exchange. A lab module consists of three-hour seminars each week, and the professor interacts directly with students. The number of students is also limited (unlike a normal lecture), which makes interacting with professors significantly easier. I asked Professor Pan for a letter, and formed close connections with my social psychology professor at Boston University, who agreed to write my second letter of recommendation.

Another factor that helps in your CDP application is if you find a supervisor early on. I had already planned to follow up with Professor Pan after my sem at BU and to do a UROP/IRP with him, so it was only natural that he would become my potential supervisor. For all CDP applicants, I highly suggest that you work closely with a professor in year two sem two, so that you can have a possible candidate as a supervisor.

I think you can do this in a few ways: you can either do a UROP/IRP with someone in year two, or take a laboratory module with them. It is preferable to be under them in the second semester of year two, so that they still remember you when the CDP invitation arrives in the first semester of year three. Regardless of how you go about it, I strongly suggest you make a connection with at least one professor before year three.

One final thing to note is that there is likely an interview, although it does take a while before they get back to you. I submitted my CDP application around the end of October 2023, and only had my interview in January of 2024. The outcome of my CDP application is still pending, and I will only know the result in May 2024. So, it can take a long time and it can be difficult to plan. I recommend that you make two study plans, one for a normal Bachelor’s degree and one for the CDP programme. That way, regardless of whether you get in, you meet the requirements for your undergraduate degree in case of rejection.

Anyways, that’s all the pertinent information you need about CDP and the application process. Feel free to leave any questions or comments you might have below! See you next time!

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