What is a master’s degree?
A master’s degree is earned through completion of a graduate program beyond a bachelor’s degree. Through work to earn a master’s degree, students gain expertise in an academic discipline through intensive coursework and the preparation of a culminating project or thesis. Master’s degrees are awarded in most disciplines and at a variety of institutions, including public, private and online schools. Those pursuing a master’s degree should have strong commitment, a specific academic direction they wish to pursue for their degree, and an understanding of how the degree will benefit their future.
What degrees must a student have to pursue a master’s degree?
In order to pursue a master’s degree, a student must complete an undergraduate Bachelor degree. Some universities offer a Bachelor/Master combination degree, which is typically a 5-6 year program.
How long does it take to complete a master’s degree?
Traditional master’s degrees take 2 years to complete, with the first year focused on classwork and the second working on advanced research and a final project. Nontraditional programs offer flexible schedules, longer or shorter completion times, and a variety of culmination requirements, including testing and creative projects. Students should carefully determine the program that fits both their schedule as well as their future career prospects when choosing a master’s degree program.
How much does a master’s degree cost?
Master’s degree programs come in a wide variety of formats, which carry different costs. Experts suggest that students should take less money in student loans than they will earn in their first year of working post-degree. Students should have a strong understanding of what jobs their master’s degree will produce and how much total cost they will incur, including living expenses. Public and online institutions can offer cost-effective programs for most master’s degrees. While private schools retain higher costs, they may offer a variety of programs particular to a student’s needs, smaller class sizes, or other amenities.
Those pursuing a master’s degree who can afford to attend school full-time and take out loans to pay for tuition and supplies should consider a smaller private institution or a public school with a full time program. For those who cannot afford both school and living expenses should consider online schools or a program with flexibility. Most online programs allow students to work concurrently with coursework, allowing them to advance careers and not take out loans for living expenses.
What are some popular master’s degrees?
Some of the most popular master’s degree programs include:
Master of Business Administration: The MBA is a versatile degree that gives a student a strong basis in all areas of business, while allowing them to focus their studies in a particular area of interest. While most MBA degrees offer lucrative career advances, finance concentrations offer particularly good potential. Some concentrations include:
- Human Resources
- Health Care
Master of Engineering: Most engineering careers require the knowledge obtained in a master’s degree in order to continue advancement. A variety of concentrations exist, with computer and software being the most popular and having the best long-term job prospects. Other master’s in engineering focuses include:
Master of Education: Earning a master’s in education or a master’s in teaching is required by most states to earn a permanent teaching credential. To sway costs, many school districts assist teachers with tuition, or offer programming locally. Some concentrations include:
- Elementary Education (K-5)
- Middle School Education (5-8)
- High School Education (9-12)
Master of Nursing: Nurses require constant continuing education credits to keep active licenses, so many earn a master’s degree in the process. Graduates of nursing master’s degrees can hold positions with great autonomy and far higher pay ranges. Master’s degrees in nursing include:
- Nursing Management
- Health Systems Leadership
- Nursing Education
- Nurse Practitioner
- Nursing Informatics
Master in Finance: Job prospects in this field are expected to grow significantly over the next decade, and positions are generally stable. Popular concentrations for master’s in finance include:
- Actuarial Services
- Finance Education
What are some things a student should look for in a master’s degree program?
Students should take many different factors into consideration when choosing a master’s degree program, including:
- Program Goals: What is the mission statement? Does the program focus on academic work or real-life applications?
- Faculty: Who teaches the courses? What kind of contacts will you make in the program?
- Accreditation: Where is the school/program accredited through?