Attending a Master's Degree Program

Attending a Master's Degree Program

Learn the ins and outs of earning a master's degree.

When many people think of graduate school, they think of earning a PhD. Today, master's degrees are growing in popularity because their role has evolved into one of higher importance.

Earning your master's degree can be a ticket to a career change, a promotion or an increase in salary.

Typically a two-year program, students attend a master's degree program after earning their bachelor's degree. They may attend graduate school right after graduating from college, or they may choose to return to school after working in the field for a few years.

It is becoming increasingly common for non-traditional students, adults over the age of 25, to continue their education with a master's degree to get a promotion, or to change careers entirely. In an age when more people are having two or three careers in their lifetime, a master's degree provides the knowledge to be able to pursue that new career.

Types of Master's Degrees

There is some confusion over the difference between a Master of the Arts (MA) and Master of Science (MS) degrees. Actually, there is no difference between the two types of programs. Whether a school uses MA or MS is a personal preference.

There are also certain majors that have specialty degrees. For example, you can earn a Master of Business Administration (MBA), which leads to an advanced general business degree. Or, students interested in pursuing a career in social work would pursue a Master of Social Work (MSW).

Master's Degree Programs

Master's degree programs are based more heavily in discussion, and typically follow a seminar structure. The rest of your time spent in your master's degree program will be working toward your thesis paper, which depending on your major might be a business plan for a start-up company, or a research report on an environmental problem in your area.

A master's degree program curriculum varies by focus. A master's degree in nursing combines seminars with hands-on training in specialties such as, nursing administration or a nurse-midwife. Master's degree programs in engineering are designed for students who want to earn an advanced degree, but are more interested in learning the skills needed to start a career. A master's degree in teaching curriculum prepares students to teach in their specialty field, such as early childhood education or educational administration. In addition, teachers might have to complete student teaching hours or observations of a classroom.

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