This is an academic qualification that is given to students who have displayed a mastery of a particular field of study and who complete a few years of advanced postgraduate study beyond the bachelor’s degree. You can only enrol for a masters degree after a Bachelors degree has been attained.

Masters degrees are awarded in all fields and are an acknowledgement of an individuals advanced understanding of a particular subject and of professional practise. They are also a recognition of extensive expertise in a specific academic discipline or professional field of study.

They are most beneficial to graduates who have clear career goals or employed people who want to gain additional skills, knowledge and accreditation in their field. Many studies have shown that going the extra mile of taking a masters degree can lead to better career prospects, salary and future earning potential.

In the UK their popularity is steadily increasing, driven partly by the demand of industry for more professional and better skilled workers. Although a masters degree may only end up as a line or two on your CV, they are highly valued and can make all the difference in getting invited to a job interview.

How long does it take to earn a masters degree
This really depends on the course and the field of study. However as a general rule it can take anything between one to three years more on top of what it has taken for a bachelors degree.

Masters degree course structure and content

For the majority of your first year you will be required to participate in normal class activities, after this (during your second year) you’ll be involved more in projects or research. Seminars tend to include more discussion and analysis than normal undergraduate classes. Overall these degrees include intensive course work and are very much focused on sizeable research assignments and projects rather than conventional classes. Students have to;

  • Prepare and forward independent course work which is normally submitted as a dissertation.
  • Complete a extended research paper or a master’s thesis, although some programmes offer a option of taking comprehensive exams.
  • Show that they can think rigorously and independently.
  • Focus on a professional field of study.
  • Demonstrate that they can solve complex problems.
  • Make preparation of a culminating project or scholarly paper etc.
  • Express critical evaluation.

Masters degree letters and abbreviations

  • Master of arts (MA)
  • Master of science (MS)
  • Social work (MSW)
  • Art (MFA),
  • Master in Mathematics degree (MMath)
  • Master of Biomedical Siences (MBiomed)
  • Master of Research (MRes)
  • MBiochem
  • MChem
  • MComp
  • MPharm
  • MEng
  • MMath
  • MPhys
  • MInf
  • MML
  • MDes

Entry and prerequisites
Candidates must first posses a bachelors degree, although this does not have to be in the exact field as the proposed masters course it should be in one that is closely related.

More facts about masters degrees

  • In some languages they are also known as a magister.
  • A few undergraduate master’s courses do not require a dissertation for completion, instead attainment is measured by examination, or a combination of testing and short written coursework.


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