What is a Master's Degree?

A Masters degree is a academic qualification granted to post graduation level students. Learn more about what is a master's degree, types, programs, list of colleges and more

Updated by Kritika Pathak on 20th October 2020

What is a Master’s Degree? Is it just another level of degree? Which are the different programs available? Why should I earn a master’s degree? There might be several questions concerning a master’s degree. 

A Master's degree is an advanced graduate degree that offers specialized coursework in the field of your choice by offering 36-54 credits in a full-time program. It takes about 2 years long to earn a master's degree and this includes research, case study, and formal education.

You might have heard from your professor or parents or your well-wishers that a master’s degree will help you be in a better position. But we are certain they wouldn’t have clearly explained why. 

Thus, we are presenting you with an article answering your question- “What is a Master’s degree?” and all the necessary information required for this degree to know why to earn this degree.

Table of contents

What is a Master’s Degree?

A Master’s Degree is a post-graduate degree. The degree provides specialization in any subject you choose. The graduate studies can be pursued after completing a Bachelor’s Degree.

You may be thinking, how many credits for a Master’s degree are required? For a semester-based system, around 36-54 credits are required and for a quarter-based program, 60-90 credits are required. 

The individual pursuing a degree would gain knowledge about the subject chosen, along with other interdisciplinary areas. Master’s Degree would help you gain technical expertise and skills for the workforce environment.

Students learn how to work independently and also gain high learning skills.

The course structure and curriculum are designed in a manner that would teach the students about the research and innovation needed in the world.

Here are a few important facts about master’s degrees that are necessary for you to know - 

  • If you’re interested in a particular subject, it is a perfect degree for you. It provides specialization in the subject and also prepares you for the research on that subject.

  • The job opportunities increase after completing a Master’s Degree as you become specialized in a particular subject. It helps in career development and can advance you to top positions in an organization if you have the relevant skills.

  • The degree can impress employers. If you wish to change the subjects which you’ve studied for an undergraduate degree, this would be a perfect chance for you. 

  • Masters degree programs are diverse and can help you gain a lot of potentials.

How long does it take to get a Master’s degree?

The degree can be completed in 1-3 years, depending on the course and the educational institution.

If the student is enrolled in a master’s degree online, he/she can complete it before the time frame as the online master degree programs can be accessed at any time of the day and you can enroll in them if you’re a working professional or don’t want to go to college.

Some of the best master’s degrees are available both on-campus and online.

Eligibility to enroll in a Master’s Degree program

To register for a master’s degree, you will have to satisfy certain important eligibility requirements which are as follows.

  • You must hold an undergraduate degree

  • Minimum GRE or GMAT score requirements must be met

  • Official transcripts of the college must be presented

  • You must acquire all the required credits in the course

  • Essay and letters of recommendation

  • TOEFL or IELTS scores must be presented (in case of international applicants)

Types of Master’s Degree

Masters courses involve studying a set schedule of lectures and presentations. Below is the Master’s offered by every university or a college:

1. MA or Master of Arts 

It is a degree with a focus on the subjects of fine arts, social sciences, and humanities mostly. The students receive lectures and seminars on various topics concerned with the subjects.

Masters of Arts degree can be completed in two years. Some of the courses offered in the degree are MA in International Relations, MA in History, and many others. It would provide you with the potential to pursue a career with the desired subjects.

2. MS or Master of Science

The degree focuses on the subjects which are science or mathematics-based.

The subjects included in the course are mostly technical and emphasizes labs, research, and analysis. It can be completed in two-three years depending on the course.

Some of the courses which are included in the degree are MS in Computer Science, MS in Psychology, MS in Biochemistry, and many others.

The students learn the skills of critical thinking and research methodologies.

3. LLM or Master of Laws

This is a course taken up after graduating with an undergraduate degree in law.

Some of the topics included in the degree are Administrative Law, American Democracy, Bankruptcy, Environmental Law, and many others. 

If you want to practice law, then no need to pursue this course but for advanced training, you have to choose this course.

4. Masters of Education or MED

If you want to be unique from everyone and succeed in the world, then choose to study MeD and become a teacher to help upcoming generations into colleges.

Pursuing a degree in education makes them teach and earn a good income. The teaching field nowadays is the fast-growing field wherever they may teach.

Other important and specialized Graduate degrees

Special Masters's degrees are employment courses aimed to make students for a career in a specific area. Here are some of the most popular courses.

1. MBA or Master of Business Administration 

It is awarded to the students who have completed their graduation in Master of Business Administration.

The program focuses on subjects such as finance, organization management, accounting, and many others.

2. MPA or Master of Public Administration

It is awarded to the students who have completed their graduation in Public Administration.

Some of the topics covered in this subject are Comparative Politics, Management and Leadership, Public Policy, and many others.

3. M.Arch or Masters in Architecture 

It is a graduate degree awarded in the field of architecture. The students pursuing architecture course as the Master's degree are awarded M. Arch.

It deals with subjects such as construction design, ornamentation, designing, and many others.

4. MPH or Master of Public Health 

It is awarded to the students who have graduated with a degree in Public health or related fields. Some of the topics covered in the course are Epidemiology, Health Policy, Environmental Health, and many others.

5. MSW or Masters in Social Work

The students pursuing a graduate degree in Social Work are awarded this degree. Some of the topics included in this subject are Human Behaviour, Social Environment, Social Work practices, and many others.

6. Masters in Accounting

The degree focuses on finance and economics. It helps in teaching the students about managing and analyzing the accounts, making a balance sheet, and keeping an eye on the little monetary and fiscal details of the organization.

7. Masters in Information Systems 

This degree can help you to develop information systems in the various governmental or non-governmental settings. The program helps analyze, design, and repair information systems. It is a technical subject.

8. Masters in Biology

The course includes subjects like Microbiology, Bio-Chemistry, Human Anatomy, and other subjects. It studies living organisms.

9. Master’s in International Relations

The subject revolves around the policies, relationships, and dependency of the nations across the world. It analyses international affairs and provides foundational knowledge for the same.

10. Master’s in Graphic Designing

The course includes subjects like Web Designing, Typography, Colour Theory, Digital Design Studio, and many others.

Why earn a Master’s Degree?

Before knowing about universities offering this degree, it is important to know why should you earn a Master’s degree. Aren’t you curious to know why it is considered as an important degree for a better future? So let us now discuss “why should anyone earn a master’s degree” in every aspect.

1. Real-time experience

  • The course provides application and practical-based knowledge and training to the students. There are many professions which would require you to have a Master’s degree such as lawyers or doctors

  • If you’re enrolled in a graduate degree program, it automatically means spending more time in school and making connections or networks 

  • This would help you to know other professionals in your sector and help you in the long run. It may even help you to find better job opportunities in the future and guide you towards a fruitful path

  • Practical applications are necessary for any careers which are used for tackling critical issues and analyzing problems

  • A Master’s Degree provides that knowledge and turns out to be beneficial for an individual’s career. If the degree isn’t practical, then there is no point in pursuing it.

2. Interests in the field would be known

  • People pursue a master’s degree to specialize in a field they love and are eager to learn more about. It is something that an individual is passionate about and would want to continue expanding their knowledge and skills of the subject

  • Knowing more about the subject would only help them advance in their professional life. It also offers plenty of experiences, as compared to the associates or bachelor degrees. It would help you get knowledge others are not aware of

  • Since the degree provides an in-depth knowledge of the course, you will learn whether you are passionate about the course or not. It would require you to do indulge in highly academic and research work to complete the degree

  • For instance, a person who has completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science might choose Public Administration as the subject for the master’s degree

  • Public Administration falls under Political Science, so the student would have a grip on public administration along with political science. You can take up other specializations in your further studies.

3. Provides a basis for research and development

  • The program would provide opportunities to learn research-based techniques and methodologies, especially if it is a science-related field. Other fields also have fieldwork and research

  • You can pursue research on any topic which interests you in that subject. Lab opportunities are given to provide skills to the students and improve their learning

  • The colleges also provide high technology gadgets as the tools to use in the research work. These tools are not provided when you’re enrolled in an undergraduate degree, hence the practical knowledge is more here than the undergraduate degree provides

  • Since you would become familiar and trained in the techniques and tools needed for the subject, it would help you reach a good position in your career, and would provide great career opportunities. Since research and innovation are needed in the market and for jobs, it would help you achieve your goals steadily.

4. Value-based accomplishment

  • For many, finishing a Master’s Degree in an accomplishment and a challenge. It doesn’t come easy. It can help in increasing your worth and self-esteem as the amount of effort you put into completing the master’s degree finally becomes fruitful after completing it

  • It works as an enhancer for individuals wherever they’re facing difficulties in life. It would motivate you to not give up and overcome any obstacle just as you would do while pursuing a master’s degree

  • High self-esteem can help individuals develop and grow in their careers. It would a problem if a person has low self-esteem, as they won’t be able to work properly and hence lose credibility.

5. Gives a respectful and strong image of an individual at the workplace

  • Organizations look at individuals with a Master’s Degree as the ones with more knowledge and capabilities. It helps enhance an individual’s personality. The employers are aware that obtaining a Master’s Degree is a respectable thing and it also proves that the individual is capable of achieving the set goals and obtaining the said results

  • It provides credibility to the individuals and proves that they’re equipped with all the qualities needed for the work. Not just in work, it also provides respect in personal life.

6. Tuition Costs

  • In many countries, students are paid for pursuing graduate studies which would help the students reduce their tuition cost up to some extent, if not fully

  • It is a great way to grab a degree without being in debt or consulting financial aids agencies for that matter. You must keep up with your coursework to complete the degree

  • The stipends are usually paid in return for the students to indulge in research and apprenticeship programs. It means you’ll be getting paid to get a real-time market experience and improve your research skills

  • It provides a great impression for your Resume or a CV as it would show your eligibility and skills as an individual.

7. Diverse job opportunities

  • You would find many job opportunities after completing a Master’s Degree. When an employer looks at your qualification, they would have a better impression of you

  • The degree sets a standard for your capabilities and provides better job opportunities

  • You can get high positions at any organization after completing the degree if you have the relevant skills and knowledge

  • It gives opportunities that wouldn’t be provided to you otherwise with any other degree.

8. Career Change

  • If you’re not satisfied with the courses you’ve taken up in college while pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree, you can always change those subjects in the master’s degree

  • You may find any specialization interesting in the bachelor’s degree and you can further take it up as your major subject for post-graduate studies

  • The subjects taken up in a Master’s degree course can provide you job opportunities not only in the sector directly related to it but also in other inter-related sectors

  • It can be helpful for a career change. This happens because students learn a variety of subjects and the employers are usually aware that the student would be aware of many topics and subjects. Versatility exists in the degree program.

9. Provides better wages

Since the degree is more specialized and the individuals learn plenty of skills to do the job efficiently, they’re paid more than students with a Bachelor’s or a high school degree.

Colleges/Universities offering Master's Degrees

Here is a list of a few colleges and universities offering master’s degrees.

Colorado State University

Capella University

Liberty University

Grantham University

Arizona State University

Walden University

Kaplan University

DeVry University

Lewis University

Georgetown University

Highest Paying Jobs for Master’s Degree Holders

By now, it is understood that there is a high career growth for the students with a master’s degree. Here are the top 15 highest paying jobs for master’s degree holders along with average salary.

Job Role

Average Income

Nurse Anesthetist

$146,354

Chief Financial Officer

$131,314

Engineering Manager

$115,204

Pharmacist

$112,999

Petroleum Geologist

$109,740

Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

$100,041

Investment Banker

$98,826

Data Analyst

$95,988

Information Technology Manager

$87,513

Management Consultant

$87,130

Nuclear Engineer

$86,939

Aerospace Engineer

$82,724

Operations and Supply Chain Manager

$81,412

Project Manager

$73,439

Financial Manager

$72,380

Conclusion

Since we have reached the end of the article, we are hoping you have received all the necessary information about a master’s degree. Here are a few key points to conclude. 

  • There are various courses under a master’s degree program. It is better to make the right choice about the program you choose based on your interests and career goals.

  • This degree will not only provide you knowledge but also a wide variety of job opportunities with higher career growth. 

  • The degree can be a factor of the career change for the better. Also, the earning potential is very high based on your performance and skills.

  • This degree will earn you responsibility and respect at the workplace.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • 1.What is the duration for completing a master's degree?

    The degree can be completed in 1-3 years, depending on the course.

  • 2.How many credits are necessary for completing a master's degree?

    36-54 semester credits and 60-90 quarter credits, depending on the type of course. 

  • 3.Is financial assistance available for Master's Degree?

    Yes. Financial Assistance is available for the courses. You can apply for Grants, Loan, and Scholarships.

  • 4.Are the online master's degree accredited and is it necessary to take admission for an accredited degree?

    You should always check the accreditation status of the college before enrolling in a course. It is necessary and tells about the educational standards of the colleges. Online courses are accredited, however, few exceptions may exist. 

  • 5.How to know which course is right for me?

    You should look at the course which interests you. After that check its curriculum, career opportunities after completing the course, colleges which offer the degree, financial aid facilities, and its availabilities. 

  • 6.Can I transfer my online college credits to other schools?

    Yes. In most of the cases, credits are transferable because the degrees are accredited. But in some cases, it can't be. You should check with the college and how many credits it can transfer.