Master’s Degree Programs

What Is a Master’s Degree?

A master’s degree is a graduate school program you can pursue after your bachelors degree. Master’s degree classes allow you the opportunity to delve deeper into a specific field of study than you do before graduate school. Some careers require a master’s degree, while others require the master’s degree as part of a doctorate degree.

How to Get a Master’s Degree

You know you want to earn a more advanced degree — but where do you start? When you begin looking for schools and narrowing them down, you may wish for a dependable ranking system as you go about considering how to get a master’s degree. One reason no such ranking list exists is because the best school for you may not be the best school for someone else.

According to EducationUSA, more than 1,000 U.S. universities offer graduate degrees. For this reason, finding a master’s program means you should grant yourself the time you need to search, research the schools you’re interested in, then make your final choice. Give yourself between 12 and 18 months to complete this process; of course, this means that, if you have plans for promotion or a career change, it becomes even more important to choose the correct school.

How to Find a Master’s Program

Keep your priorities in mind as you look for the right graduate school. First, the schools you research should offer the degree program you need. This makes the process of eliminating schools easier, once you figure out which schools don’t have your program.

Next, think about your goals, short- and long-term. If you plan to earn a doctorate after your graduate degree, look for a university offering both degrees.

Next, refine your research so you identify which professors have conducted research which falls within your own interests. As an example, you may find a few of these professionals, but they work for universities in other states; as you are planning how to get a master’s degree, this information will help you narrow your options down.

Step 1: Identify What Type of Program You are Looking to Attend

These graduate programs are the Master of Arts (M.A.), Master of Science (M.S.) and other master programs for other disciplines.

These include business, public health, public policy and more.

Step 2: Take Graduate Entrance Exams

Colorado State University recommends that, before you sign up for a graduate entrance exam, find out which exam you need. Then, study that exam’s requirements.

Step 3: Explore Different Master’s Programs

On the internet, visit university and college websites so you are able to narrow your choices down. Or, going the old-fashioned route, attend in-person education fairs.

Master’s Degree Time Requirements

A master’s degree is typically completed in two years of full-time graduate school coursework. Unlike a bachelors degree, which combines general studies and elective courses with classes in a student’s major, at the graduate school level, students focus specifically on courses in their majors or areas of study. In a master’s degree program, students are provided the chance to expand on the general knowledge and skills learned during their undergraduate courses.

While some students complete their master’s degree full-time, others choose to work and attend school part-time either at night or through online classes. This allows them the flexibility to balance other responsibilities with their coursework. Students attending courses part-time at online school may still be able to complete their degree in the same two year frame as their full-time student counterparts because many of the online master’s degree programs move at an accelerated pace.

You should expect to spend a good deal of time completing your graduate course work, as a master’s degree curriculum is generally more rigorous than that of a bachelors degree. Your time will be spent attending classes, meeting with study groups, completing projects and conducting research in the library and laboratories.

Is a Graduate Degree Right for You?

Completing a master’s degree allows you to pursue certain careers and lets you delve more deeply into your field of study. Here are some of the top reasons why students chose to attend graduate school and earn a master’s degree:

For career advancement

Even if a graduate school degree isn’t required to get a job in your industry, you may find that you can advance farther in your career with a master’s degree. For some positions, a master’s degree is mandatory for consideration.

To earn more money

Students with graduate school degrees may be more likely to be considered for higher-paying jobs and can have an increased ability to move higher in their positions.

To change career fields

A master’s degree can help professionals gain expertise in a new area and make switching careers easier.

To become an authority in your field

Pursuing your area of study at the graduate school level can help make you an expert on that subject matter. Most master’s degrees require that students complete a thesis or research paper on a chosen subject.

To get a doctorate degree

A master’s degree is required to pursue a doctorate degree. You can either apply to a doctoral program and get your master’s degree as part of your studies or you can apply to a terminal master’s degree program and then pursue a doctorate degree when you’ve completed your master’s degree.

What Types of Students Pursue Master’s Degrees?

Students choose master’s degrees for many reasons. Some begin their graduate school studies right after completing their bachelors degrees, while others go back to graduate school after working. They may choose to complete their master’s degree in order to advance in their current careers or to change career paths.

Many master’s degree programs are designed to prepare students for a career in research. These students choose an area of their field that interests them, and spend the majority of their graduate studies conducting their research. Students seeking a master’s degree graduate with a dissertation or extensive research paper, which serves as tangible evidence of the knowledge learned during their graduate studies. Research what types of jobs are available in your industry which requires a master’s degree to get a better idea of what your degree will do for your career.

Where Can I Get My Master’s Degree?

But, this may not be a good option for you. Even after exploring and going online, no school in your state offers what you want or need. As you think about how to find a master’s program, don’t overlook anything.

Look for an online master’s degree program. This may be out-of-state. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the number of students attending college out of state has steadily grown since the early 2000s. At the state level, four regional higher education compacts were created. These allow states to protect the interests of in-state and out-of-state students’ interests.

These compacts set up the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA). If you have chosen a school participating in SARA, you may be able to attend the out-of-state college of your choice.

How Can I Find a Master’s Degree Near Me?

The easiest way to find a master’s degree program near you is via the Internet. Simply do a search in Google, and you’ll find various schools that offer master’s degrees in your area. Be certain to research what each school offers, so you can choose the program that best meets your needs.

What Type of Master’s Degree Is a Good Fit for Me?

It is becoming increasingly possible and more convenient to pursue your online master’s degree. Taking an online program allows you more flexibility in scheduling classes, because you can tailor them to your work schedule and other obligations, and while you may not have in-person interactions with professors and other students, live conferencing allows you to interact with them in real time.

Be aware that at the graduate school level, some online master’s degree programs may require you to spend some time on campus, either attending specific courses or taking exams. Review the attendance requirements at any online schools you’re considering that are located far from where you live.

Many online master’s degree programs are structured into shorter semesters, which allows you to earn your master’s degree faster. This is especially helpful if you are using your master’s degree as a means to advance in your career.

What Is an Accelerated Master’s Degree Program?

An accelerated graduate degree program is one that you can complete in a shorter amount of time than the average, which is usually around two years. In order to take this route you will need to make sure your program offers accelerated options. Accelerated degree programs can be helpful if you are already working and need to continue with your career. If your program offers accelerated options, you can generally graduate in less than two years depending on the area of study.

How Do You Find the Right Master’s Degrees?

If you’re choosing a campus school rather than an online school for your master’s degree, location may be a major factor. You will also want to take note of the type of school that best suits your needs. Some graduate students enjoy the atmosphere of a sprawling campus with seminar courses, while others crave a smaller, more intimate campus environment.

You want to look at the area of studies offered by the graduate school to make sure your intended concentration is available. Pay close attention to the details of each master’s degree program, as each school may focus on developing a different set of skills. For example, some are centered on research, while others prepare students for a teaching position.

For online schools and campus schools, cost offered by the graduate school will also help you choose the school that’s best for you. The cost of the graduate school will vary by program, location, type of school and facilities offered. If you need help funding your graduate program, compare financial aid programs at each school to determine which will give you the best deal. To significantly decrease the costs of earning your master’s degree, apply to a state school where you live, as they typically have cheaper tuition rates for in-state students. Another option to consider is applying to your alma mater because some colleges and universities offer lower costs to former students.

When Should You Pursue a Master’s Degree?

You must have a clear idea of why you want a master’s degree before you apply to graduate school. Some students are entering into a career that requires a master’s degree for entry-level positions, such as engineering. Typically, these students attend a master’s degree program directly after earning their bachelors degree. Other graduate students are encouraged to gain real-world experience before attending a master’s degree program. This ensures that you have a solid understanding of how your industry works and what role you want to play within it.

Graduate students need to have a solid background in research and a passion for the subject they are studying. A master’s degree is more than an extension of your bachelors degree, it is a program with a specific focus and it is important to know why you want a master’s degree before applying to a program.

If you are interested in pursuing an advanced degree but don’t know which one to choose, this list of Master’s degrees by program can help. Please view the list below.

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