A Master is an advanced degree conferred by universities around the world for completion of graduate study in a specific discipline. Masters degree programs typically take one to two years to complete and further prepare graduates for a career in their chosen field. Obtaining a Masters degree offers numerous professional, personal and academic benefits to students who have graduated from a Bachelor program.
Masters degrees are available across various fields of study, including the Arts, Business, Engineering and Technology, Law, Humanities, Social Sciences, Biological and Life Sciences, and the Natural Sciences. Within each of those fields of study, numerous practical specializations are available within particular disciplines.
The variety of different Master programs can be overwhelming - don't let it stop you! Start your search by looking at the most popular Master degrees listed below.
Whether you’re looking to supercharge your career or just want to learn more about your profession, a master’s degree is a great investment. Masters programs are available in just about every academic discipline, and with thousands of programs world-wide to choose from, you’re sure to find a program that meets your education goals, budget, and schedule.
Although there are some specialty programs, such as the Master of Engineering (MEng) or Master of Research (MRes), most master’s degrees are either a Master of Arts or a Master of Science. Master of Arts (MA) degrees are usually awarded for studies in the humanities, fine arts, philosophy, or the social sciences. Master of Science (MSc) degrees focus on quantitative subjects such as scientific, technology, engineering and math disciplines. In addition to coursework, MSc degrees typically have a significant research component such as a major project or thesis that may be done individually or in a group, depending upon the program.
One of the most obvious benefits of a masters degree is an increase in employment opportunities. Some professions either require a masters degree for entry or rarely hire people with only a bachelor’s degree. Examples of these professions include statisticians, physician assistants, and school counselors.
Other benefits of getting a masters degree include:
Worldwide, there are thousands of master’s programs to choose from. Master’s programs typically require 1-2 years of full-time academic study beyond the bachelor’s degree. Part-time students may need more than 2 years to complete their studies.
Before deciding on a masters program, you should first determine what discipline you want to study and what related disciplines you might consider as well. Your first choice may seem obvious, but the specific degree you want may not be offered in a program that fits your needs. For example, if you are interested in business, you may want to consider masters programs in finance, economics, and human resources in addition to business management.
Once you narrow down your desired field or fields of study, the next question to answer is whether you want to attend school full time or part time. Full-time studies allow you to focus on your education and provide you the most options, but you may have to relocate and you will likely have to give up working full-time. Part-time studies offer more flexibility, but you may find some programs impossible to complete while holding a full-time job. For example, if your preferred program offers classes only during the day, you’ll need a job that allows you to take time off during the day to attend classes. Be sure to weigh all the advantages and disadvantages of full-time versus part-time studies before making a decision, including loss of income if you choose full-time studies.
Many masters programs now also offer formats other than classroom settings. Online and distance learning programs are gaining in popularity and usually take about the same time to complete as a traditional masters degree. However, online programs aren’t for everyone. They typically require more self-discipline and lack the benefits of networking and close personal contact that you get from traditional programs.
While some masters programs can take just two semesters to complete, the most typical length of a masters program is two years, and some can take as long as six years. It all depends on your field of study and on how many courses you take each semester.
The cost of getting a master’s degree varies greatly from country to country. In some countries, such as Norway and Finland, university education is generally free – including masters degrees. Most masters programs in the US cost around $20,000 to $30,000, but programs at more prestigious schools can easily be double that cost. If you are already working full-time, your employer may be willing to help defray the cost of a degree if it is work-related. Also, in addition to personal savings, don’t forget about loans, grants, and scholarships. Some grants and scholarships are specifically earmarked for graduate studies.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the fastest growth in jobs through 2020 is projected in occupations that require a masters degree, including health care and social service occupations. For example, the professions of family therapist and mental health counseling both require a masters degree.
However, even if your chosen profession doesn’t require a masters degree, you may find your career options limited without one. For example, many professions such as computer science and engineering prefer supervisors, managers, and technical experts to have masters degrees. Other professions that provide preferential treatment to candidates with master’s degrees include nursing, education, economics, music, and art.
Getting a masters degree is a very rewarding experience. You’ll gain knowledge, increase your ability to make a contribution to your profession, make friends and professional contacts, and enhance your career opportunities. Regardless of your interests, with thousands of masters programs available world-wide, you’re sure to find something that fits your needs.