Arts > Science > USA


I hope you are all doing great, and appreciate you taking time to read this thread.

I have come here to seek advice, so please excuse me talking about myself.

I will state my case as briefly as possible, then if anyone kindly responds to this initial post, I shall expand if necessary.

Here goes...

I already have been educated in the Arts at University, with no qualifications in Mathematics or Science gained since leaving high school.

Though, I have made the effort to learn Mathematics, and I am an amateur Astronomer.

However, I want to explore and learn more about the universe, and hopefully even discover or invent something and help someone.

I'm 25, a UK citizen, and since temporarily working in the United States, I've wanted to return to the US permanently.

I would ideally like to go straight to studying Science in US, though funding for international students seems non-existent, and applicants for undergraduate with a previous degree seem to be frowned at.

Through internet research, I have found the Natural Sciences Tripos at Cambridge University here in UK to be a very interesting course, as one can pick and choose areas of Science to study, then specialize in one.

Does anybody here have any experience with this course?

The aim after graduation would be to go to the United States to further study, work, or perhaps develop an entrepreneurial venture of some kind (time and hard work will tell).

Is studying for a second undergraduate degree in Science possible?

Would I need to go back down the educational ladder even further and study A Level Mathematics and Science first?

Please let me know your thoughts.

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I will just make some general comments.

First of all, it is always possible to go back and get a second degree in another field, including math or science. There's no stigma with this in the USA. However, you may be a little bit older than your classmates (obviously).

Second of all, I should like to point out that mathematics and science are very "incremental" fields. My meaning is that you have to start from the very bottom, and then work your way up to the top. It is just the nature of science, and especially mathematics, that the learning process works almost like ascending a ladder. If you did indeed come to the US, I would recommend applying to universities and colleges with the expectations of 4 years of work to earn another undergraduate degree.
One can't help but wonder how you plan funding such an undertaking.
How did you get an undergraduate degree without taking any science or math classes? Pretty much every university in the U.S. requires all students to take "core classes" in math and science.
How did you get an undergraduate degree without taking any science or math classes? Pretty much every university in the U.S. requires all students to take "core classes" in math and science.
Went to Uni here in the UK?

We specialise right off the bat.


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Science Advisor
I'm not sure what Cambridge's policy with respect to mature students is: i.e. whether you would need A levels or not. However, the natural science tripos is pretty competitive, so you'd need to somehow "shine out" above the rest. You would also definitely need to take a STEP exam ( [Broken]) and so you should have enough mathematical knowledge to be able to answer those sorts of questions. Your best bet is to probably look at the department's website, and look for its policy on mature admissions.
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Thanks for your replies.


It seems it is not always possible to obtain a second undergraduate degree.

eg. Berkeley international admissions, states that most (if not all) departments will not consider undergraduate applications from graduates. Please correct me if I'm wrong, really please do, as I'm specifically keen to study there.

As stated, my proposed idea was to get a second undergraduate degree here in the UK, then continue education in the US in a graduate position.

Which brings me onto funding...


Both money and time (as with most other people) are at the forefront of my concerns for this educational transition.

I have read on the Cambridge site that they offer a bursary to students from low income households, which I'm fairly sure I would qualify for the full amount. This combined with freelance work I do, or/and a part time job should hopefully keep me alive.

As for a move to the US afterwards, time would be spent whilst here applying for funding and scholarship opportunities.

eg. Fulbright


I got an Arts undergraduate degree by completing an Art Foundation further education course after school, and presenting a portfolio of work to the University. After successfully completing my undergraduate degree, I started an Arts graduate degree, then left as it was not suitable.

None of these steps required further education in Mathematics and Science.


I don't understand.


Thank you. I have examined the Cambridge site prior to posting my initial message, though was unaware of the STEP exam. I found the mature student policy to be slightly contradictory at times, if not confusing.

However, it is very likely that only Cambridge themselves can answer any questions involving such matters.

One thing I am sure of is that the stated deadlines for 2009 have passed.

If anyone either knows anybody on the Natural Sciences Tripos, or is on it themselves, I would appreciate any kind of first hand insight. Please get in touch.

Alternatively, does anyone know of a graduate conversion course in Natural Sciences?

Any suggestions for steering myself into Science and the US, would be welcomed with open arms.

Thanks again, and have a great weekend.
I looked at the Berkeley website, and it does indeed say that international applicants with the equivalent of a U.S. Bachelor's degree will not be admitted to most of their colleges. You pretty much have zero chance of gaining admission there.

What kind of qualifications do you have? Have you taken the ACT/SAT or an SAT Subject Test? They're required by many universities, including Berkeley. It's going to be an uphill battle to get accepted as an international student with almost no science or math background.
Check out Birkbeck College in London, they specialise in mature students with "unusual" backgrounds. You can do a part time degree there, if you need to earn money to fund yourself. The Open University is another possibility. Talk to the admissions officers in these institutions first to see if they think taking A levels is a good idea.

Hoops such as SAT feel like a few life times a go now, is that really still relevant?

As for my qualifications, I have a BA, and started an MA, though never completed it, as previously mentioned.


I have skim read the Birkbeck site previously, seems like a useful place. Also, the OU is definitely somewhere worth keeping in mind.

Thanks for bringing these places back to the forefront of my thoughts.
Who else read the thread name as an inequality and felt confused?


Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Hoops such as SAT feel like a few life times a go now, is that really still relevant?
In the US, the SAT is a standardised test taken before university, and is required for admittance to university. Over here, however, the SATs (which are different tests, and taken in lower years) are pretty irrelevant once you've left school!

Thanks for the information, I have looked into USA SAT.

Does being a Mensa member count for anything?


You really are on top form with your suggestions, thank you.

Though, I'm looking for something with a bit more bite, joining the quest to get to the bottom of everything we call the universe.

I want to help explore and experiment, and personally get to grips with Mathematics a lot more.

One example of work I currently find fascinating, amongst many, is that carried out by V.S. Ramachandran.

There is only so much more I can read, look at, and listen to about what others both have achieved and are achieving to advance our understanding. I just want to 'muck in', so to speak.

To those of you that are already doing such things, my full admiration is with you.

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