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A master's degree is a type of graduate degree. It is earned after completion of a bachelor’s degree. Typically, a master's degree requires about 30 credits of coursework and takes 2 years of full time study beyond a bachelor's degree. However, some master’s degree programs can take longer to complete depending upon the field of study and subject matter.
Most often, a master’s degree program builds upon your undergraduate degree. So for example, if you earned a Bachelor of Arts in History and enjoyed learning about revolutionary-era France, then you could apply for a graduate level History program at a school specializing in that topic. However, some degree paths can effectively crossover. For example, if you majored in history as an undergraduate and wanted to become a classroom teacher, then you could apply for a graduate level education program, in order to master the teaching skills needed to become a classroom history teacher.
What Types of Master’s Degree Programs Are There?
There are many types of master’s degree programs to choose from. Just like bachelor’s degrees, the most common types of master’s degrees are Master of Arts (MA) and Master of Science (MS). However, there are also other master’s degree programs, including:
Again, these master’s degree programs just represent some of the ones students choose presently. Rest assured that if you were able to earn a bachelor’s degree in a certain major, chances are there is a graduate program somewhere for you specializing in the same subject matter.
What Does a Master’s Degree Entail?
Master’s degree programs are more demanding than undergraduate degree programs. Coursework usually requires more effort, and professors expect written and/or verbal arguments to be more refined, specific and comprehensive than when you were an undergrad. Additionally, most master’s degree programs also require fieldwork hours of some sort. This could be in the form of a professional internship, where a certain amount of hours outside the classroom are logged.
The other potential requirement is a master’s thesis. A thesis is a testament to your burgeoning expertise in your field of study. It is usually anywhere from 50-200 pages in length depending upon the course of study. The thesis is a unique piece of writing, and not just a regurgitated research paper. It has a very specific format, which differs between disciplines. In order to complete a thesis, you are required to find a mentor who specializes in the subject matter and is willing to guide you through the process. A thesis committee is tasked with reviewing your submission, and ultimately deciding whether or not to approve it, thus granting you your master’s degree.
What Can You do With a Master’s Degree?
The completion of a master’s degree with a professional internship usually posits you for a career once you graduate. Sometimes, interns end up getting hired by the company they interned for. Your masters and your internship combined help give you the credentials necessary to be taken seriously in your field of study. In some disciplines and schools, a master’s degree also qualifies you to become a college or university faculty member.
A successful master’s thesis can serve as the beginning of a doctorate dissertation. A dissertation is much more thorough and comprehensive than a master’s thesis. However, this can also translate to the career market should you not want to pursue a doctorate’s degree immediately or at all. Beyond potentially becoming a college or university faculty member, many companies and industries value someone who can read, write and research at a heightened academic level—whether or not you remain within your certified field of study.
No matter what you choose to do, earning a master’s degree is a wonderful way to separate yourself from the many other career candidates in your chosen field. It is also a fantastic opportunity to challenge yourself personally and academically—which allows for self-empowerment and enrichment in every way, shape and form.