Master’s Degrees – Postgraduate Academic Degrees

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Almost every discipline that offers a degree program in the US and UK also has some form of Master’s degree. These are typically two-to-three year programs designed to take the basic training and knowledge provided in a Bachelor’s setting and shape it into a specialised and more nuanced understanding of a specific focal area within the discipline. For example, taking an English degree further, by specialising in rhetoric, literary interpretation, masters in anesthetics, ms in Canada or creative writing.

What is a Master’s Program?

At its core, a master’s program is designed to strengthen the student’s skill set and elaborate that student’s knowledge in a particular discipline and to teach that discipline’s established professional methods. Because of that, it can be difficult to pin down a single program description that holds true across all master’s programs. After all, degrees in the sciences, arts, fine arts, and specialised programs like business, all have very different needs and focuses, and this means that they will be specifically formulated to reflect the kinds of work done in those disciplines.

There are a few key features to master’s programs overall that are worth noting, especially to students who do not know what to expect from an advanced degree program:

  • No general education requirements: As an add-on to a bachelor’s program, most master’s programs do not require you to start at the basic educational level. Rather, they build on the things you have learned and go deeper from there. Although you may have prerequisites for your specific area of study, there are no general education requirements once you have completed your Bachelor’s degree.
  • Better student/teacher ratios: The program is intended to take people with an established base of knowledge in the field, whether it be from a Bachelor’s degree or the equivalent field experience, to the next level. As there may be fewer students with such a solid base, postgraduate classes tend to be smaller, with more direct student/teacher contact.
  • Project opportunities and experiential learning: Whether it is through internships and assistance programs or through opportunities to engage with research, professional projects and on-the-job opportunities make up a larger portion of graduate instruction than they do in undergraduate programs. This means you get more hands on approach in your chosen field.
  • Methodology and enculturation: Many master’s programs are the building blocks for a PhD, or serve as the terminal degree in a field. This means that the programs are a more in-depth look at the philosophy of the field, and you have more opportunities for creative thinking and broader boundaries for research during your course of study.

What are the Benefits of Getting a Master’s?

Getting a master’s gives you the primary benefit of a more specialised skill set that makes you more competitive within the field. For many career areas, this does not necessarily translate to an automatically higher pay grade or title, but it does provide one with the toolkit necessary to advance more quickly, especially in practical fields like business. For some employers and positions, a master’s is absolutely necessary, and students will find themselves unable to advance without it.

It is also important to note that the master’s degree is the minimum requirement for teaching in most disciplines at the college level, which means that students whose career goals include an eventual professorship or time spent as a lecturer will find the master’s degree to be absolutely essential. It is also commonly viewed as a prerequisite to a doctoral program, and many PhD programs in the US and UK will place special emphasis on accepting candidates who not only have high test scores, but also have previous postgraduate degrees. This is true even when the master’s degree and the PhD program are not in the same discipline.

What Kind of Career Can You Expect with a Master’s?

Students who successfully complete a master’s within their desired discipline can expect advantages and opportunities that allow them access to more specialised and highly skilled jobs within their careers. These jobs are the difference between being on the line and in management in some areas like Engineering. In other fields, they are necessary steps toward becoming an independent practitioner or toward a teaching career.

Whether the master’s degree represents the end of your educational career or a middle step as you approach a full professional degree, it is a rare achievement that marks you as the bearer of a certain set of skills, one that requires more attention and more direct practice than the skills usually symbolised by a Bachelor’s credential. As such, a candidate holding a master's degree will often be iinterviewed first for positions of higher responsibility within an organization, even when it is not a requirement for the job.

University of California - Irvine

Irvine, United States

  • 83SchoolApply Rank
  • USD 28,000Average Tuition
  • 30%Acceptance Rate

The University of California - Irvine is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities with a campus in Irvine; a suburban area in California, U.S.A. Through its faculties, the university offers over master’s degree programs....

University of Buckingham

Buckingham, United Kingdom

  • 89SchoolApply Rank
  • USD 19,321Average Tuition
  • 0Acceptance Rate

The University of Buckingham (UB) is one of UK’S oldest private universities located in the city of Buckingham, England. Through its 14 academic schools, the university offers master’s programs in a wide variety of disciplines....

Cardiff Metropolitan University

Cardiff, United Kingdom

  • 90SchoolApply Rank
  • USD 16,716Average Tuition
  • 0Acceptance Rate

Cardiff Metropolitan University (Cardiff Met) is a UK public Institution with two central campuses located in Llandaff and Cyncoed in Wales, United Kingdom. Through its 6 academic schools, the university offers master’s programs in a wide range of disciplines....

Leeds Arts University

Leeds, United Kingdom

  • 96SchoolApply Rank
  • USD 18,755Average Tuition
  • 0Acceptance Rate

Leeds Arts University, established in 1846, is a small, specialist arts and higher education University located in Leeds, UK. The University offers two Master of Arts degrees....

University of Gloucestershire

Cheltenham, United Kingdom

  • 105SchoolApply Rank
  • USD 17,415Average Tuition
  • 0Acceptance Rate

University of Gloucestershire (Gloucestershire) has multiple campuses across Gloucestershire and Cheltenham, United Kingdom. Students at Gloucestershire are offered a wide range of master’s degree programs through its 8 academic schools, including: School of Art and Design; School of Liberal and Performing Arts; School of Natural and Social Sciences; and the School of Media....

University of West London

London, United Kingdom

  • 117SchoolApply Rank
  • USD 14,013Average Tuition
  • 0Acceptance Rate

University of West London with campuses in Ealing and Brentford in London, UK offers undergraduate and postgraduate studies through its eight schools: the London School of Film, Media & Design; Claude Littner Business School; School of Computing and Engineering; London College of Hospitality and Tourism; Ealing Law School; London College of Music; College of Nursing, Midwifery and Healthcare; School of Psychology, Social Care and Human Sciences....

University of Chester

Chester, United Kingdom

  • 118SchoolApply Rank
  • USD 14,563Average Tuition
  • 65%Acceptance Rate

The University of Chester is one of the oldest universities in the UK. Founded in 1839, it is a public university situated in Chester, England. The University has dedicated faculties, through which it delivers master’s degree programs to local and international students. ...

Trinity College Dublin

Dublin, Ireland

  • 122SchoolApply Rank
  • USD 14,342Average Tuition
  • 0Acceptance Rate

The Trinity College Dublin (TCD) is located in Dublin, Ireland. Situated in the multicultural European Capital, TCD offers undergraduate courses in a wide range of disciplines that come under the faculties of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; Engineering, Mathematics and Science; and Health Sciences. ...

Bath Spa University

Bath, United Kingdom

  • 124SchoolApply Rank
  • USD 16,869Average Tuition
  • 89%Acceptance Rate

Bath Spa University (Bath Spa) has campuses located in Newton Park and Sion Hill, Bath, United Kingdom. Bath Spa also has a campus located in the market town of Corsham. Bath Spa offers over a 100 master’s degree programs across its 4 academic schools, namely: Bath Business School; Bath School of Art and Design; College of Liberal Arts; and the Institute for Education....

St Mary's University London

London, United Kingdom

  • 125SchoolApply Rank
  • USD 17,552Average Tuition
  • 0Acceptance Rate

St Mary’s University London (St Mary’s) is located in Twickenham, London. St Mary's offers over 50 master’s degree programs across its 4 academic schools, namely: Arts and Humanities; Management and Social Sciences; Education, Theology and Leadership; and Sport, Health and Applied Science....