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Masters Degree

Find masters degree programs and learn how a masters degree can help you pursue your career goals and increase your salary.

What Is a Masters Degree?

A masters degree is a graduate school program you can pursue after your bachelors degree. Masters 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 masters degree, while others require the masters degree as part of a doctorate degree.

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See All Online Masters Degree Programs

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Masters Degree Programs at Online Schools

Online colleges offer masters degrees in a broad variety of academic areas. If you're eager to specialize in your field or master a new area to expand your career opportunities, an online program may provide you with benefits you may not find on a traditional campus. Among them: autonomy and an increased ability to manage how quickly you complete your degree. Learn more about online masters degrees.

Masters Degree Time Requirements

A masters 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 masters 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 masters 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 masters degree programs move at an accelerated pace.

You should expect to spend a good deal of time completing your graduate course work, as a masters 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 masters degree right for you?

Completing a masters 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 masters 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 masters degree. For some positions, a masters 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 masters 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 masters degrees require that students complete a thesis or research paper on a chosen subject.
  • To get a doctorate degree.
    A masters degree is required to pursue a doctorate degree. You can either apply to a doctoral program and get your masters degree as part of your studies or you can apply to a terminal masters degree program and then pursue a doctorate degree when you've completed your masters degree.

What types of students pursue masters degrees?

Students choose masters 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 masters degree in order to advance in their current careers or to change career paths.

Many masters 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 masters 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 masters degree to get a better idea of what your degree will do for your career.

Should you pursue a masters degree at an online school?

It is becoming increasingly possible and more convenient to pursue your online masters 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 masters 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 masters degree programs are structured into shorter semesters, which allows you to earn your masters degree faster. This is especially helpful if you are using your masters degree as a means to advance in your career.

How do you narrow down my choice of schools that offer masters degrees?

If you're choosing a campus school rather than an online school for your masters 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 masters degree program, as each school may focus on developing a different sets 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 masters 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 masters degree?

You must have a clear idea of why you want a masters degree before you apply to graduate school. Some students are entering into a career that requires a masters degree for entry-level positions, such as engineering. Typically, these students attend a masters degree program directly after earning their bachelors degree. Other graduate students are encouraged to gain real-world experience before attending a masters 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 masters 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 masters degree before applying to a program.

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