What is a Masters Degree?

What is a Masters Degree?

What is a Masters Degree? A masters degree is a graduate level degree earned through the completion of a postgraduate educational program with a college or university. It is a highly focused course of study which prepares an individual to work in a specific field or discipline. Dependent upon the discipline of focus, a masters degree program can consist of concentrated study lasting anywhere from one year to six years.

While colleges and universities offer PhD or doctorate programs, many also offer masters degrees. Both of these options are legitimate educational goals which can bring about specific career opportunities. The required minimum education in many professional fields – such as social work, engineering and accountancy, to name just a few – is a masters degree.

Even just a few decades ago, there were a limited number of masters degree programs available. Contemporary educational options for obtaining a masters degree are almost limitless though. The primary reason for the increased number of programs now available is the elevation of minimum education expectations within the employment market. There are more and more jobs that now call for a postgraduate degree and in response to this need, many more colleges and universities now offer masters degree programs on campus, online and through other distance education.

Choosing to Pursue a Masters Degree

What is a Masters Degree?

New bachelors degree holders have several options available to them. They can go straight into the job market, beginning their career in an entry level position. They may also decide to enter a masters program as a full time student. Others may decide to begin their career while also attending a graduate school as a part time student and the number of flexible graduate programs now available from colleges and universities makes this a prominent choice.

Your class schedule and course load will be determined by the kind of program you choose. The length of the program will be based on your full time or part time student status and the discipline you’re studying. There are many masters degree programs which are only a year or two in length for full time students. Many colleges and universities also offer accelerated degree programs for working professionals, making it easier than ever for you to earn a masters degree.

Masters Degree Varieties

Masters degree programs are classified as either Master of Science or Master of Arts. Under these primary categories, programs are available in hundreds of more specific disciplines. The degree conferred depends on the area of your academic focus and you’ll select that focus based on your career goals.
 
Some masters degrees prepare individuals for working in a highly specialized field, as is the case for those who earn a Masters in Social Work. Others are designed to prepare individuals for working a range of positions, like the Masters of Science in Management, for example. As there are so many different schools now offering postgraduate programs, masters degrees are now available in most any field you may wish to study.

Making the Decision to Get a Masters Degree

The majority of students who decide to pursue a masters degree do so in order to advance their career and open up new employment opportunities. That being said, many also find a great deal of personal satisfaction and feel a significant level of personal achievement from furthering their education.
 
Not only can a masters degree make promotion in your current career more likely, it can also make it possible for you to begin a new career in a field specifically related to the degree you earn. Changing careers with a masters degree is more practical as holding an advanced degree will make you a more desirable and impressive candidate to employers.

Prerequisite Requirements for Masters Programs

Every college and university sets its own admittance standards and requirements for entry into a masters degree program. In order to know the specific requirements for any program with a particular school, you will need to review the school’s literature or speak with a representative with the program.
 
While the admittance criteria vary from one program to the next, there are some general prerequisites required at all schools. These include holding undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university, completion of the Graduate Records Examination (GRE), strong academic performance in program-specific prerequisite courses, and the presence of a strong personal essay and several letters of recommendation in your application.

What is a Masters Degree? – Common Masters Degrees

As previously mentioned, there are many different masters degrees now available to students and the degree you choose to pursue will depend on your own personal interests and career goals. There are however, a few degrees which are among the most common and versatile, particularly within the business world. These include the Masters of Accountancy, Masters of Management and the Masters of Business Administration (MBA). Of these degrees, the MBA is perhaps the most common and the most useful in the widest range of career ventures.

For more answers to what is a Masters Degree questions, read about secondary education here.

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