A Master’s degree is generally attained in one to three years and usually involves both coursework and research. This degree can take numerous forms, though the three most common types are Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MS or MSc) and Master of Business Administration (MBA). Earning a Master’s degree indicates a level expertise in a given subject, and signifies that the recipient has academic and/or professional capabilities at a level beyond that required to earn a Bachelor’s degree. While there is no global system regarding the structure of the Master’s degree, it is commonly earned either in a stand-alone program, as the latter half of a first degree (formerly common to much of Europe), or as the first stage of a doctoral program (common in the United States). Following the Bologna Process and the creation of a European Higher Education Area (EHEA), the 47 participating European countries now adhere to the three degree cycle of Bachelor, Master and PhD, either in addition to or in place of previous degree structures. Courses in both the Bachelor and Master must be based on the European Credit Transfer and accumulation System (ECTS) in order to facilitate common recognition across Europe.
As the number of university graduates around the globe continues to climb, competition for positions requiring higher education is also on the rise. While many employers previously sought employees at one of two academic extremes (with positions requiring either a Bachelor’s degree or a PhD), many open positions now require a Master’s degree, placing these employees in between the two other qualification levels. Although it’s still possible to find gainful employment with only a Bachelor’s degree, earning a Master’s broadens your options and makes you more likely to maintain a higher salary and keep away from unemployment . These advantages can make a real difference in today’s job market. In order to capitalize on them, however, you should take the time to choose your program carefully and make sure it will prepare you for the right career path.
As with most academic choices, the key to finding the right program for you is to take your time and examine your options. While earning a Master’s does not require as much of an academic or temporal commitment as earning a PhD, it is a concrete step towards a career or further education, and you should be as sure as possible about which way you’d like to go. There are many diverse types of Master’s programs offered all around the world. You can study full-time or part-time, for just one year or many. Explore the other sections of this website to find information on the many options available to you.
MA The full title of this degree is Master of Arts. If you are interested in pursuing a Master’s degree in the social sciences, humanities or a related field, this is the title that will likely be awarded to you. Sometimes the Latin title might be used, Magister Artium, but both refer to the same degree. MS/MSc The full title of this degree is Master of Science. The MS/MSc generally is awarded to students of all types of science, as well as mathematics, computer science and related disciplines. As with the MA, the Latin title Magister Scietiae is used in some cases. MBA The full title of this degree is Master of Business Administration. This degree is often awarded by a business school rather than a university and does not necessarily follow a similar academic trajectory to more academically oriented MA or MS degrees. Moreover, this degree is still relatively new to many parts of the world, though course offerings in regions such as Europe and Latin America are growing quickly. MPhil This degree, whose full title is Master of Philosophy, is usually awarded in the UK, Australia and certain European countries. In these countries, the MPhil is generally achieved after two years of study and the completion of a thesis. In the United States, the MPhil may be awarded to students in PhD programs after the initial coursework is completed but prior to the completion of a dissertation. MEd The Master’s of Education degree is awarded by a large number of countries. Students are generally granted this degree following rigorous coursework and training preparing them for careers in education, be it as a teacher, school counselor or administrator. LLM The full title of this degree is Legum Magister, meaning “Master of Laws” in Latin. An LLM can be earned in numerous countries around the globe, and is generally awarded following a rigorous study of a given country’s laws. In most countries, however, a higher degree is needed in order to practice law.