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In the Danish educational system, it is possible to enter an academic master’s programme on the basis of a professional bachelor’s degree combined with some years in the job market, for example as a social educator. These adult students share lectures with the younger university students but are challenged on several levels.
The aim of the article is to understand how adult students approach the pursuit of a second degree, using a sociological perspective. Based on biographic interviews with mature students at the Danish School of Education, an analysis of their backgrounds, the paths their lives’ follow, and the narratives on which they draw, it is shown how their endeavours can be construed as a rite of passage. It demonstrates how the individual students’ life courses include factors that influence not only the content of their studies, but also their life expectations.