Thinking about a master’s degree? Unsure if it is something you should pursue? If you have a bachelor’s degree, you may wish to further your education. You may be thinking about career goals beyond what your bachelor’s degree allows. Master’s degree programs may be able to help you achieve this.
What Is a Master’s Degree Program?
A master’s degree is a more advanced degree program. It typically follows a bachelor’s degree. It is often provided by an accredited university after a person masters the content related to their industry or career path. These are typically well established skills and insights for the industry chosen. Many are for a specific area of an industry. This type of degree may also help students concentrate or focus in a specific area. It may help them develop key skills. That may include critical thinking skills. It may include analysis or business skills. Many people complete this degree before completing a doctorate or Ph.D. program.
A Master of Science or Master of Arts degree may provide you with a range of benefits. To do that, students may have to learn key concepts and advanced skills in many cases. Many master’s degree programs require around 40 credit hours of coursework. This could vary significantly between programs. It also depends on the field of study and the courses you decide to take. Some programs are may be very flexible. They may provide you with numerous electives. You may be able to choose what fits with your goals. Many of these graduate degree programs may require students to meet a minimum grade of 3.0. It may be a “B” grade instead. Again, some programs are more flexible. They may require fewer credits. Some may require more hands on work. Some require a much higher or lower GPA.
How to Qualify for a Master’s Degree Program
Many schools?may set their own minimum degree requirements to obtain a master’s degree. Specific graduate program courses of study may have additional requirements. For example, the school may require at least 45 credit hours. The graduate program may require 50 in one program but just 30 in another. Many may also require prerequisites to be met. Many times, students may have to have a bachelor’s degree at minimum. They then may have to apply for the graduate school or program. This may require completion of specific courses. Students may also need to meet GPA requirements to qualify for admittance into the grad program.
How to Choose a Masters Program
What do you want to do? Do you want to ?enhance your current job? You may want to pursue a new job. A master may help you do that. The first step is to determine what you want to do. Your professional career goals should be a priority. Then, research what type of degree you need to have in that field. Look at the courses. Learn about the types of programs available. Choose a master based on your long term goal. Then, determine if you want to attend an online program. Many in person programs are an option. For those still working, they could be hard to access. Online programs may provide more flexibility. Ensure the school is accredited. Some employers insist on this. Both online and in person options exist. Choose a school that feels right. Make sure to consider financial aid. Scholarships may be an option, too. Financial aid may be available to those who qualify. The graduate education you choose should interest you. You typically want to feel good about your future. You want to be excited about it. Choose a master program that lets you do that.
Types of Master’s Degree Programs
You may be able to complete a master’s degree in your current field of study. Or, choose another one that interests you. Here are a few of the most common master’s degree programs. There is a lot of flexibility in each area.
Master of Arts Degree (MA)
A MA degree focuses on areas of humanities and arts. This may include performance, communications, or English. Some also include social sciences. This may include sociology or psychology programs. Many programs focus on research and writing. Some students may need to complete a thesis or capstone project. Many career paths are possible in an MA degree. Courses may include these:
- Social Theory – The social theory class typically looks at contributors to social theory from the 19th century to current.
- Social Policy – The class on social policy may look at the practice of sociological research.
- Interpreting and Presenting Results – In interpreting and presenting results the students may learn how to get information from the research they have conducted.
- Social Policy and Planning – The social policy and planning class may offers an opportunity at learning and determining social policy.
Master of Science Degree (MS)
An MS degree typically focuses on tech and science. This may include fields like computer science or engineering. Many graduates go on to work in research based programs. Some may work as economists, political scientists, or research scientists. Some may need further licensure requirements. Others may need to complete certifications. Courses may include these:
- Topics in Political Theory – Political theory typically looks at different angles and perspectives of the political world.
- Economics and Public Policy – The economics and public policy course might covers how the economy interacts with political agendas and plans.
- Geopolitics – Geopolitics may look at how politics work on a global scale
- Public Policy – The course in public policy may look at how decisions on public policy are made and what influences them.
Master of Education Degree (M. ED)
Those in education may pursue an M. ED degree. This program may help students improve skills for classroom use. They may also require additional certifications or licensing. Many times, an M. ED degree may be based on the specific interests of the student. Some may go on to design curriculum for schools. Others may continue to doctoral study. Courses may include these:
- Designing Curriculum and Instruction – The designing curriculum class is made to help educators in having creative options when creating lessons.
- Educational Research – With educational research the goal is to learn what the best methods are for getting through to students.
- Differentiated Instruction – The differentiated instruction course is designed to help educators learn the best way to reach all students in their program.
- Learning as a Science – Learning as a science is a class that focuses on how to best approach to how to best acclimate all students.
Master of Fine Arts Degree (MFA)
This degree may have a specific field of study depending on the student’s interest. It may include writing or dance. Some focus on fashion design. Photography is another area. Students may work to complete a capstone project. Graduates may then work in areas of focus. Some may teach their concentration to students. MFA courses are different. Many are specific around the area of focus you are seeking. You may take courses in just your specialty. Other times, you may take others as well. Courses may include these:
- Acting Courses – Many students take acting courses. This may include first year classes that teach beginning acting. Second year students may take methodology and types of acting.
- Voice and Speech Courses – Communication is key. Voice and speech courses are common in an MFA program. This may include learning to communicate fully. You may learn how to project your voice. Some involve singing.
- History and Theory – History, theory, and criticism are often a requirement of an MFA degree. Students may take a film course in this area. Many may learn how to analyze performance.
- Movement – This type of course focuses on using the body in communications. It may be a common component of acting and performance MFA degrees.
Master of Social Work Degree (MSW)
Social work practice and research may require an MSW. Some may concentrate. Fields may include mental health or gerontology. Others focus on school social work or family services. Some students focus on the research in this field. Others work with patients. Courses may include these:
- Trauma Informed Care – Students learn about trauma, it’s impact, and managing it. They may also learn about advanced methods of managing trauma. Key is learning advanced concepts in this area.
- Social Work Research and Evaluation – This type of program focuses on research in the field. Student use evidenced based social work skills to advance understandings in the field. They may evaluate program effectiveness.
- Structures and Processes – This includes topics on social welfare. It may focus on areas of analysis. It may focus on advocating for policy change. They may also learn how to develop new policies.
Master of Business Administration (MBA)
In this field, students typically study advanced business topics. It may include things like finance or management. Some focus on leadership skills. Many include skills in areas such as project management or human resources. Some students obtain additional certifications in their field of study. Courses may include these:
- Marketing – This is often a research based program. It may also teach more advanced topics. Many students focus on marketing in their MBA. Others may focus on new concepts. Topics may include marketing strategy and planning.
- Financial Accounting and Management – Students may explore more advanced concepts of accounting. This includes budgeting. It may include analysis. Many times, it focuses on financial strategies. It may also focus on capital sources. Pro forma analysis and budgets are common.
- Leadership – MBA programs include leadership. This includes areas of teamwork and leadership. Students may learn how to use various leadership styles. Sustainable ethical leadership is another area.
Master of Public Administration (MPA)
A policy or administration career may benefit from this master’s program. Students may focus on areas of business or finance. Some even work in areas of healthcare, social work, or psychology. Some work in government agencies. Others may work in nonprofit organizations. They may seek positions in analysis or policy or public relations. Courses may include these:
- Nonprofit Management – This type of course focuses on governance structures. It may include developing funding sources. It also has a focus on legal and professional accountability. Students learn to think strategically.
- Public Management – This type of program focuses on skill building in public organizations. It may offer a management consulting focus. Other times it has a human resource focus. Leadership is a key component of this type of program. This includes improving managing styles.
- Policy Analysis – This type of study focuses on evaluating public programs. It may include conducting research for the public and may also focus on administrative functions. It is a skill building course.
Master of Public Health (MPH)
Graduate students in this area often seek out health concepts and trends. They may relate their degree to public health specifically. They may study topics such as healthcare policies. Others focus on crisis prevention. Many may focus on specific areas. This may include skills to work as a dietician. Some work as community series managers. Courses may include these:
- Epidemiology – This type of course focuses on disease and may include development of disease. It often focuses on frequency and distribution. It may include studies on preventing illness. Also, it may focus on the spread of disease over population.
- Public Health Systems – This course focuses on history and basic structures. It also focuses on health care delivery systems. It may discuss essential public health services. There is a strong operations focus.
- Health Policy and Management – The focus here is on setting and maintaining health policy. This is on a community basis. It may include how to develop policies. It may also discuss public health policy changes. Tools to develop these policies may also be a part of this course of study.
- Behavioral and Social Aspects of Public Health – This course focuses on social factors. It also addresses behavioral factors that relate to health. The focus is often on individual health. Population health may also be a covered topic here.
Master of Laws (M.L)
This advanced degree may help students to earn professional skills in a specific area. Some focus on education or business. Others focus on just personal injury or criminal law. It may help a student to concentrate on the services they offer. This degree program is unique. Many students choose a specific focus. The courses taken are in this specific area. This may be in health or criminal law. Courses may include a range of topics within this area. Courses may include these:
- Health Law – The focus is on protecting the rights of people in terms of health. This may include legal concepts on privacy or health care access. Students may learn about health policy creation.
- International Law – It is sometimes focused. This may include international criminal law. It may be international business law. The focus is on how these international laws impact U.S. businesses or people.
- Criminal Law – This type of course is on all aspects of criminal law. That may include advanced topics on evidence. It may include an analysis beyond the courtroom. Some areas focus on specific areas of criminal law. This may include American Indian law, for example.
Master of Engineering (MEng)
This master degree usually focuses on engineering advanced education. Much of the coursework is specific to the field of study. Many may complete a research thesis or project. Some programs are research based. Others are based on skill development in the field. Courses may include these:
- Bioengineering – This type of course focuses on biomedical engineering and design. It may include aspects of chemical and electrical components. It also wraps mechanical engineering into this.
- Mechanical Engineering – Advanced studies may include data analytics. Students may also learn topics related to robotics. This is an emerging field with various components of study.
- Product Design and Manufacturing – The focus here is on the development of new products. It may also include aspects of how to turn ideas into objects. The focus on manufacturing also includes aspects of efficiency.
What Could I Pursue with a Master’s Degree?
Enrolling in graduate education may provide new opportunities for some people. Keep in mind there is a large range of opportunity here. Your graduate study is likely to differ from what someone else studies. However, there may be many career opportunities in this field. Here are a few examples of what you may be able to pursue after completing an online master’s program or an in person program.
These people work to help others solve problems. They may also aid others in coping with problems in their everyday life. They may work in mental health clinics. Some work in human service agencies. Others work in child welfare.
Company executives typically lead organizations or businesses. They plan strategies. They create and manage policy. Their goal is to help an organization to meet its goals.
Human Resource Manager
Many start with a bachelor’s degree. Advancing to a master’s may create more opportunities to lead in human resource management. They work to help organizations manage their employees.
An economist may analyze data and evaluate economic issues. They may research trends. They typically work in companies. Some also work in businesses. A doctoral degree may further their demand.
Computer Systems Manager
Computer and information systems managers may take on leadership roles in companies or organizations. They typically plan and coordinate various activities in a company. This relates to computer related tasks. Many may work in information science. A bachelor’s degree is a starting point. Many go on to earn master’s and doctoral degrees.
Typically work to help companies improve public image. Coordinate campaigns to help bring in donations to organizations. Improve the public image of an employer or a client.
Is a Master’s Degree Worth It?
This is a personal decision for many people. There may be more benefits than just cost to taking master’s degree programs. Master’s students may benefit at a personal level. Some additional benefits of getting a master’s degree include these.
- Master’s programs teach a different way of thinking. Many may analyze or create insights. They may research areas of interest. These are advanced programs. Yet, they teach critical thinking as well as advanced info.
- Capstones are a part of many programs. This is the way many students wrap up their master’s work.
- Many students report higher personal gain from taking these programs.
- Some students may use an online master’s degree program to help with a career change. They may want to pursue a related or completely different area.
- Some people report that graduate education helps them to feel more capable of doing their job. It may also help them feel more well rounded in their field of study.
- It may get them more professional experience. This type of education may qualify for more advanced degrees. That could enhance their ability to gain professional experience in other areas.
Take a look at some of the positions students may qualify for or advance from using a master’s degree. Every path is unique. Yet, many students find it could be worth it to get a master’s degree.
Administrative Services Manager
Administrative service managers plan and coordinate a variety of tasks for organizations. They direct activities within a business or group. These service managers manage challenges as they arise. Annual Median Pay:
$96,940 per year Growth:
Human Resource Manager
The human resource manager may work to manage administrative tasks within a business. This often relates to employees. It may include hiring, training, and managing people. They may also direct others in these tasks. Annual Median Pay:
$116,720 per year Growth:
Post Secondary Teachers
Post secondary teachers work in colleges and universities. They instruct students directly. Many work in leadership roles. They often work closely in creating curriculum. Others work in research focused areas of education. Annual Median Pay:
$79,540 per year Growth:
These individuals work in a company’s supply chain. They analyze it. They coordinate various components. Many start with a bachelor’s degree. They advance into management positions with more advanced degrees. Annual Median Pay:
$74,750 per year Growth:
Advanced degrees in this field may help advanced degrees. These individuals create financial reports. They may develop plans to help a company meet their long term goals. Many handle direct investment activity with their master’s degree. Annual Median Pay:
$129,890 per year Growth:
How Long Does It Take to Earn a Master’s Degree?
Completing Earning a master’s degree may take some time. In many cases, a typical master’s degree takes 1.5 to 2 years to complete. This is for full time students. Many factors play a role in this. Part time education slows this down. The exact amount of time before graduation is dependent on the amount of work you need to do. Various factors impact the length of study. This may include:
- Program credits required: Typically this is 40 credits. It may range from 30 to 60 credits depending on program.
- Enrollment: Full time students often complete courses faster. This may include taking up to 16 to 18 credits each semester. Part time students may have more flexibility. They may be able to choose how many credits to take.
- Online programs: Some master’s degree online programs could speed up the process. This may mean students attend school strictly online.
- Additionally, accelerated master’s degree programs exist. These programs may allow students to work towards their master degree while earning an undergraduate degree. Accelerated programs may condense material into a fewer number of credits. Dual credits from undergraduate to graduate programs could help speed up education.
- Online degree options vary. Some online learning opportunities significantly reduce the length of time a student spends in school. Yet, this is very much specific to the specific field of study.
Scholarships for Online Master’s Degree Programs
You may be able to find financial aid for this type of degree. That includes for in person and online program of study. The following are some of the scholarship options to consider. You may need to take a graduate level course of study to earn them. You may also have to meet specific GMAT or other qualifications to get them. Be sure to ask the graduate school about other options. Many higher education programs offer financial opportunities for students as well. This includes loans, grants, and work study programs. Deadline:
November 30 Award:
$5,000 This scholarship is open to US students over the age of 14. There is one scholarship awarded per year and requires an essay and application form. Deadline:
November 30 Award:
$1,000 This scholarship is open to any US resident enrolled in college. There is one scholarship awarded annually and requires an application and an online review of your current college. Deadline:
November 30 Award:
$1,000 The Selfless Parent Scholarship is offered by the Capital Family Law Group and requires an essay and official transcript. It is available to those with a 3.0 GPA or higher and attending school. Deadline:
November 30 Award:
$1,000 The Allen Tittle’s Medical Malpractice Scholarship is awarded annually and to any student who is a resident of the US and is enrolled in a post secondary school with a minimum 3.0 GPA. The scholarship requires an essay and official transcript. Deadline:
November 30 Award:
$1,000 The Second Chance Scholarship is awarded annually. It is for students with a 3.0 GPA and are residents of the US.
Popular Master’s Degree Programs
Master’s Degree Salary & Employment
Top States for Employment for Managers, All Other
|State||Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
|District of Columbia||20,010||$135,970|
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Top Salary Metro Areas in the United States: Managers, All Other
|Metro Area||Annual Mean Salary||Employment|
|San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA||$148,700||4,200|
|San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA||$147,270||11,980|
|California-Lexington Park, MD||$145,620||490|
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Top Graduate Schools with Masters – 8 Programs