Master’s Degree

College Degree Finder

Master's Degree main image - adult male studying with laptop

A Master’s Degree is a post-secondary or graduate degree that typically follows the completion of a bachelor’s degree. Although much more demanding than a bachelor’s degree, which takes between 3-5 years to complete, a master’s degree can usually be completed in just 2 years. Master’s degrees are more rigorous, demanding, and fast-paced than bachelor’s degrees. The expectation for quantity and quality of work performed is also much higher. A master’s degree will involve intricate analysis, study, research, and may require a student to complete a master’s thesis or project before graduating.

The many benefits of earning a master’s degree include the following:

  • Many management and leadership positions require a master’s degree
  • More career advancement opportunities
  • Increased earning potential
  • Gain advanced skills and knowledge
  • Set yourself apart from other professionals

While there are several kinds and categories of master’s degrees the most common include the following:

  • Master of Arts (MA) – The Master’s of Arts is a post-baccalaureate degree that requires the completion of at least 30 semester hours of graduate credit, usually in the social sciences or humanities. Depending on the field of study, this degree probably will not include research and a thesis.
  • Master of Science (MS or MSc) – Like the Master’s of Arts, the Master’s of Science also requires the completion of 30 semester credit hours. However, unlike an MA degree, the Master’s of Science typically focuses on the sciences and is more likely to require extensive research and a written thesis.
  • Post-graduate Master’s Degree – The post-graduate master’s degree can be either an MA or MS degree (MA, MEng, MS, MSc, MBA, MCom, MBus and other subject specific master’s degrees). These degrees are designed for any student that already holds a bachelor’s degree.
  • Business or Management Master’s Degree (MSc, MA, MBA, MCom, MIM ) – Trying to understand these degrees can be a bit confusing at times. First, there are Masters of Science (MSc) or Arts (MA) or Commerce (MCom) in General Management. These degree programs are often referred to as MIM-programs and typically do not require professional experience as a prerequisite to program entry. Often the MSc in Management is designed for individuals with an academic degree in a humanities or social science area while the MA in General Management is for individuals with other backgrounds. These degrees are not to be confused with the more popular Master of Business Administration (MBA) which is intended for business students with at least two to three years of professional work experience and is open to individuals from any field or academic background. There are other differences between the MIM and MBA including the purpose of each program, the cost, student demographic and reputation.
  • Executive Master’s Degree (EMBA, EMS) – This master’s degree is designed specifically for executives, managers and working professionals. These programs are often offered during the evening or on weekends. Many are now offered online as well. These programs are structured very differently than the regular full-time program in regards to admissions, graduation requirements, and overall structure.

  • See the Best Jobs For Master’s Degree Holders
  • See the Most Popular Master’s Degrees

  • Most Common Types of Master’s Degrees

    • Master of Accountancy (MAcc, MAc, or MAcy)
    • Master of Advanced Study (M.A.S.)
    • Master of Economics (M.Econ)
    • Master of Applied Science (MASc, MAppSc, MApplSc, M.A.Sc. and MAS.)
    • Master of Architecture (M.Arch.)
    • Master of Arts (M.A., MA, A.M., or AM)
    • Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT)
    • Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MA, ALM, MLA, MLS or MALS)
    • Master of Business Administration (MBA or M.B.A.)
    • Master of Business (MBus)
    • Master of Business Informatics (MBI)
    • Master of Chemistry (MChem)
    • Master of City Planning
    • Master of Commerce (MCom or MComm)
    • Master of Computational Finance (or Quantitative Finance)
    • Master of Computer Applications (MCA)
    • Master of Criminal Justice (MCJ)
    • Master in Creative Technologies
    • Master of Design (MDes, M.Des. or M.Design)
    • Master of Divinity (M.Div.)
    • Master of Economics (M.Econ.)
    • Master of Education (M.Ed., MEd, Ed.M., M.A.Ed., M.S.Ed., M.S.E., or M.Ed.L)
    • Master of Engineering (M.Eng., ME or MEng)
    • Master of Engineering Management (MEM)
    • Master of Enterprise (M.Ent.)
    • Master of European Law (LL.M. Eur)
    • Master of Finance (M.Fin.)
    • Master of Financial Economics
    • Master of Financial Engineering (Master of Quantitative Finance)
    • Master of Financial Mathematics (Master of Quantitative Finance)
    • Master of Fine Arts (MFA, M.F.A.)
    • Master of Health Administration (MHA)
    • Master of Health Science (MHS)
    • Master of Humanities (MH)
    • Master of Industrial and Labor Relations (MILR)
    • Master of International Affairs
    • Master of International Business
    • Masters in International Economics
    • Master of International Studies (MIS)
    • Master of Information System Management (abbreviated M.ISM, MS.IM, M.IS or similar)
    • Master of IT (abbreviated MSIT, MScIT, M.Sc.IT, MSc.IT or M.Sc IT.)
    • Master of Jurisprudence (M.J. or M.Jur)
    • Master of Laws (LL.M. or LLM)
    • Master of Studies in Law (M.S.L.)
    • Master of Landscape Architecture (M.Arch.)
    • Master of Letters (MLitt)
    • Master of Liberal Arts (MA, ALM, MLA, MLS or MALS)
    • Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS)
    • Master of Management (MM)
    • Master of Mathematical Finance
    • Master of Mathematics (or MMath)
    • Master of Medical Science
    • Master of Music (M.M. or M.Mus.)
    • Master of Occupational Therapy (OT)
    • Master of Pharmacy (MPharm or MPharm)
    • Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.)
    • Master of Physician Assistant Studies
    • Master of Physics (MPhys)
    • Master of Political Science
    • Master of Professional Studies (MPS or M.P.S.)
    • Master of Public Administration (MPA)
    • Master of Public Affairs (M.P.Aff.)
    • Master of Public Health (M.P.H.)
    • Master of Public Policy (M.P.P.)
    • Master of Public Management
    • Master of Quantitative Finance
    • Master of Rabbinic Studies (MRb)
    • Master of Real Estate Development
    • Master of Religious Education
    • Master of Research – MSc(R)
    • Master of Sacred Music (MSM)
    • Master of Sacred Theology (S.T.M.)
    • Master of Science (M.Sc., MSc, M.Sci., M.Si., Sc.M., M.S., MSHS, MS, Mag., Mg., Mgr, S.M., or SM)
    • Master of Science in Education
    • Master of Science in Engineering (MSE)
    • Master of Science in Finance (M.Fin.)
    • Master of Science in Human Resource Development (HRD or MSHRD)
    • Master of Science in Information Systems (MSIS)
    • Master of Science in Information Systems Management (MSMIS)
    • Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT, MScIT, M.Sc.IT, MSc.IT or M.Sc IT.)
    • Master of Science in Leadership (MSL)
    • Master of Science in Management (MSc or MSM)
    • Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
    • Master of Science in Project Management (M.S.P.M.)
    • Master of Science in Supply Chain Management (SCM or MSSCM)
    • Master of Science in Teaching (MST)
    • Master of Science in Taxation
    • Master of Social Science (MSSc)
    • Master of Social Work (MSW)
    • Master of Studies (M.St. or MSt)
    • Master of Surgery (Ch.M. or M.S., as well as M.Ch. and M.Chir.)
    • Master of Theological Studies (M.T.S.)
    • Master of Theology (Th.M. or M.Th.)
    • Master of Urban Planning
    • Master of Veterinary Science (MVSC or MVSc)

    Most Popular Master’s Degree Programs by Field of Study

    Fields of Study Master’s Degrees Conferred by Postsecondary Institutions, by Field of Study

    Field of StudyPercent of Master’s
    Business24.4%
    Education19.3%
    Health professions and related programs13.6%
    Engineering6.1%
    Public administration and social services6.1%
    Computer and information sciences4.1%
    Psychology3.5%
    Social sciences and history2.7%
    Visual and performing arts2.3%
    Biological and biomedical sciences1.9%
    Theology and religious vocations1.9%
    Homeland security, law enforcement, and firefighting1.3%
    Communication, journalism, and related programs1.3%
    English language and literature/letters1.2%
    Multi/interdisciplinary studies1.1%
    Architecture and related services1.1%
    Legal professions and studies1.0%
    Parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies1.0%
    Mathematics and statistics1.0%
    Physical sciences and science technologies0.9%
    Agriculture and natural resources0.8%
    Engineering technologies0.7%
    Library science0.7%
    Foreign languages, literatures, and linguistics0.5%
    Family and consumer sciences/human sciences0.4%
    Liberal arts and sciences, general studies, and humanities0.4%
    Philosophy and religious studies0.3%
    Area, ethnic, cultural, gender, and group studies0.2%
    Transportation and materials moving0.1%
    Communications technologies0.1%
    Military technologies and applied sciences0.0%
    Precision production0.0%
    Not classified by field of study0.0%

    Best Jobs For Master’s Degree Holders

    Occupation2015 Median PayProjected New JobsProjected Growth RateOn-the-job Training
    Economists$75,000 or more1,000 to 4,9990 to 9 percentNone
    Education administrators, elementary and secondary school$75,000 or more10,000 to 49,9990 to 9 percentNone
    Education administrators, postsecondary$75,000 or more10,000 to 49,9990 to 9 percentNone
    Industrial-organizational psychologists$75,000 or more0 to 99910 to 19 percentInternship/residency
    Mathematicians$75,000 or more0 to 99920 to 29 percentNone
    Nurse anesthetists$75,000 or more5,000 to 9,99910 to 19 percentNone
    Nurse midwives$75,000 or more1,000 to 4,99920 to 29 percentNone
    Nurse practitioners$75,000 or more10,000 to 49,99930 percent or fasterNone
    Occupational therapists$75,000 or more10,000 to 49,99920 to 29 percentNone
    Physician assistants$75,000 or more10,000 to 49,99930 percent or fasterNone
    Political scientists$75,000 or moreDecliningDecliningNone
    Psychologists, all other$75,000 or more1,000 to 4,99910 to 19 percentInternship/residency
    Statisticians$75,000 or more10,000 to 49,99930 percent or fasterNone
    Anthropologists and archeologists$55,000 to $74,9990 to 9990 to 9 percentNone
    Art, drama, and music teachers, postsecondary$55,000 to $74,99910,000 to 49,99910 to 19 percentNone
    Epidemiologists$55,000 to $74,9990 to 9990 to 9 percentNone
    Genetic counselors$55,000 to $74,9990 to 99920 to 29 percentNone
    Historians$55,000 to $74,9990 to 9990 to 9 percentNone
    Instructional coordinators$55,000 to $74,99910,000 to 49,9990 to 9 percentNone
    Librarians$55,000 to $74,9991,000 to 4,9990 to 9 percentNone
    Nursing instructors and teachers, postsecondary$55,000 to $74,99910,000 to 49,99910 to 19 percentNone
    Orthotists and prosthetists$55,000 to $74,9991,000 to 4,99920 to 29 percentInternship/residency
    Sociologists$55,000 to $74,9990 to 999DecliningNone
    Speech-language pathologists$55,000 to $74,99910,000 to 49,99920 to 29 percentNone
    Urban and regional planners$55,000 to $74,9991,000 to 4,9990 to 9 percentNone
    Archivists$35,000 to $54,9990 to 9990 to 9 percentNone
    Curators$35,000 to $54,9991,000 to 4,9990 to 9 percentNone
    Educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors$35,000 to $54,99910,000 to 49,9990 to 9 percentNone
    Healthcare social workers$35,000 to $54,99910,000 to 49,99910 to 19 percentNone
    Marriage and family therapists$35,000 to $54,9995,000 to 9,99910 to 19 percentInternship/residency
    Mental health counselors$35,000 to $54,99910,000 to 49,99920 to 29 percentInternship/residency
    Survey researchers$35,000 to $54,9991,000 to 4,99910 to 19 percentNone
    Rehabilitation counselors$25,000 to $34,99910,000 to 49,9990 to 9 percentNone

    Sources: