Master's degree

Master's degree

A master's is an academic degree granted to individuals who have undergone study demonstrating a mastery or high-order overview of a specific field of study or area of professional practice.[1] Within the area studied, graduates are posited to possess advanced knowledge of a specialized body of theoretical and applied topics; high order skills in analysis, critical evaluation or professional application; and the ability to solve complex problems and think rigorously and independently.[1]

In some languages, a master's degree is called a magister, and magister or a cognate can also be used for a person who has the degree. There are various degrees of the same level, such as engineer's degrees, which have different names for historical reasons. See List of master's degrees.

There has recently been an increase in programs leading to these degrees in the United States; more than twice as many such degrees are now awarded as compared to the 1970s. In Europe, there has been a standardisation of conditions to deliver the master's degrees and most countries present degrees in all disciplines.



The two most common titles of master's degrees are the Master of Arts (M.A.) and Master of Science (M.S., M.Si., or M.Sc.); these may be course-based, research-based, or a mixture of the two. Some universities use the Latin degree names; because of the flexibility of word order in Latin, the Master of Arts and Master of Science may be known as magister artium or artium magister and magister scientiæ or scientiarum magister, respectively. Harvard University and MIT, for example, use A.M. and S.M. for their master's degrees. More commonly, Master of Science often is abbreviated MS or M.S. in the United States,[2] and MSc or M.Sc. in Commonwealth nations and Europe.

Other master's degrees are more specifically named and include the Master of Music (M.M. or M.Mus.), Master of Communication (M.C.), Master of Physician Assistant Studies (M.P.A.S.), Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.), Master of Engineering (M.Eng.), and the Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.); some are similarly general, for example the M.Phil. and the Master of Studies. See List of master's degrees.


  • Full time post-graduate master's degree (MA, MS, MBA, and other subject specific master's degrees) is designed for anyone who holds a bachelor's degree.
  • Executive master's degree (EMBA, EMS) is a master's degree designed specially for executive professionals. Admission, graduation requirements, and structure of executive master's degrees differ from that of the regular full-time program.[3]


There are a range of pathways to the degree, with entry based on evidence of a capacity to undertake higher degree studies in the proposed field. A dissertation may or may not be required, depending on the program. In general, the structure and duration of a program of study leading to a master's degree will differ by country and by university.


In some systems, such as those of the USA and Japan, a master's degree is a strictly postgraduate academic degree. Particularly in the US, in some fields / programs, work on a doctorate begins immediately after the bachelor's degree, but the master's may be earned along the way as a 'Master's degree "en route"', following successful completion of coursework and certain examinations. Masters programs are thus one to six years in duration.

By contrast, in some cases, such as the Integrated Master's Degree in the UK, the degree is combined with a Bachelor of Science, as a 4 year degree . Unlike a traditional MSc, the fourth year finishes at the same time as undergraduate degrees in the early summer, whereas traditional MSc students typically spend the summer vacation completing a dissertation and finish in September. Examples include MMath (see also Part III of the Mathematical Tripos at Cambridge), MEng and MSci (not to be confused with an MSc).

In the recently standardized European System of higher education (Bologna process), a master's degree corresponds to 60 - 120 ECTS credits (one- or two-year full time postgraduate program) undertaken after at least three years of undergraduate studies. It provides higher qualification for employment or prepares for doctoral studies.


In countries in which a master's degree is a postgraduate degree, admission to a master's program normally requires holding a bachelor's degree, and in the United Kingdom, Canada and much of the Commonwealth, an 'honours' bachelor degree (citation needed). In both cases, relevant work experience may qualify a candidate. In some cases the student's bachelor's degree must be in the same subject as the intended master's degree (e.g. a Master of Economics will typically require a Bachelors with a major in economics), or in a closely allied, "cognate", discipline (e.g. Applied Mathematics degrees may accept graduates in physics, mathematics or computer science); in others, the subject of the bachelor's degree is unimportant (e.g. MBA) although, often in these cases, coursework in specific subjects may be required (e.g. some M.S.F. degrees require credits in calculus for admission, but none in finance or economics).

Comparable European degrees

In some European countries, a magister is a first degree[disambiguation needed ] and may be considered equivalent to a modern (standardized) master's degree (e.g., the German and Austrian university Diplom/Magister, or the similar 5-year Diploma awarded in several subjects in Greek, Spanish, Polish, Portugal, and other universities and polytechnics).

  • In Denmark the title candidatus or candidata (female) abbreviated cand. is used as a master's equivalent. Upon completion of for instance, a engineral master's degree, a person becomes cand.polyt. (polytechnical). Similar abbreviations, inspired by Latin, applies for a large number of educations, such as sociology (cand.scient.soc), economics (cand.merc., cand.polit. or cand.oecon), law (cand.jur), humanities (cand.mag) etc. A cand. title requires the obtainment of a bachelor's degree. In Finland and Sweden, the title of kand. equates to a bachelor's degree.
  • In France, the previous equivalents of master's degrees DEA and DESS have been replaced, following the Bologna Process, by both a Research Master (Master Recherche) and a Professional Master (Master Professionnel). The first was said to prepare for a PhD and the second one for professional life but the difference between these two masters tends to disappear and one would only speak about a "Master". A Research or Professional Master is a 2-year postgraduate training usually accomplished after a 3-year training, the Licence. The first year of the Master is called a "Master 1" (M1) and the second year of the Master is called a "Master 2" (M2).
  • In Italy the Master's degree is equivalent to the 2-year Laurea Magistrale, whose courses start after earning the 3-year Laurea Triennale (roughly equivalent to a Bachelor's degree). Architecture, Law, Pharmacy and Medicine faculties have not adopted these two degrees (commonly called "tre più due", i.e. 3+2) and are still earned after 5-year and 6-year Laurea Magistrale courses respectively.
  • In the Netherlands the titles ingenieur (ir.), meester (mr.) and doctorandus (drs.) may be rendered, if obtained in the Netherlands from a university, after the application of the Bologna process, as: M.Sc. instead of ir., LL.M. instead of mr. and M.A. or M.Sc. instead of drs. This is because a single program that led to these degree was in effect before 2002, which comprised the same course load as the Bachelor and Master programs put together. Those who had already started the program could, upon completing it, bear the appropriate title (M.Sc., LL.M. or M.A.), but alternatively still use the old-style title (ir., mr. or drs.), corresponding to their field of study. Since these graduates do not have a separate Bachelor’s degree (which is in fact – in retrospect – incorporated into the program), the Master’s degree is their first academic degree. Bearers of foreign Master's degree are able to use the titles ir., mr. and drs. only after obtaining a permission to bear such titles from the Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs. Those who received their mr., ir. or drs. title after the application of the Bologna process have the option of signing like A. Jansen, M.A., or A. Jansen, M.Sc., depending on the field in which the degree was obtained, since the ir., mr. and drs. titles are similar to a Master's degree, and the shortcut M.A. or M.Sc. may officially be used in order to render such title as an international title.[4][5][6][7]
  • In Switzerland, the old Licence or Diplom (4 to 5 years in duration) or a the postgraduate DEA is considered equivalent to the master's degree.[8]
  • In Slovenia, all Academic degrees awarded after a minimum of 4 years of university studies and a successful defence of a written thesis are considered equivalent to the master's degree.

See also


  1. ^ a b The Australian Qualifications Framework
  2. ^ Google search for "MS PhD"
  3. ^ Interview with Head of USI Executive Master of Science in Communication
  4. ^ Welke titel mag ik voeren? Dutch-Flemish Accreditation Organization.
  5. ^ Opleidingen en titels Dutch Department of Education, Culture and Science.
  6. ^ Burgervragen Citizens' questions letter from Dutch Department of Education, Culture and Science.
  7. ^ Drs. A Jansen, MBA? OnzeTaal.
  8. ^ Rectors' Conference of the Swiss Universities


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Поможем решить контрольную работу

Look at other dictionaries:

  • master's degree — master s degrees also Master s degree N COUNT A master s degree is a university degree such as an MA or an MSc which is of a higher level than a first degree and usually takes one or two years to complete. Syn: master s …   English dictionary

  • master's degree — late 14c., originally a degree giving one authority to teach in a university; from MASTER (Cf. master) (n.) in its general sense of “man of learning” (early 13c.), “a teacher” (c.1200) …   Etymology dictionary

  • master's degree — noun an academic degree higher than a bachelor s degree but lower than a doctor s degree (Freq. 1) • Hypernyms: ↑academic degree, ↑degree • Hyponyms: ↑Master of Architecture, ↑MArch, ↑Master of Arts, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • master's degree — UK / US noun [countable] Word forms master s degree : singular master s degree plural master s degrees a university degree that students get if they study for one or two years after their first degree …   English dictionary

  • Master's degree — see master s degree …   English dictionary

  • master's degree — magistras statusas T sritis Švietimas ir mokslas apibrėžtis Asmuo, baigęs magistrantūros studijas ir gavęs magistro diplomą. atitikmenys: angl. master s degree pranc. titulaire du diplôme de maîtrise, m; titulaire du diplôme d études approfondies …   Aiškinamasis kvalifikacijų sistemos terminų žodynas

  • master's degree — master s de.gree also master s informal n a university ↑degree such as an ↑MA, ↑M.Sc., or ↑M.S., that you can get by studying for one or two years after your first degree …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • master's degree — master s de,gree noun count a university degree that students get if they study for one or two years after their first degree …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • Master's degree in Europe — This page refers to types of Master s degrees in Europe. Please see Master s degree for more information. In order to facilitate the movement of students between European countries, a standardized schedule of higher education diplomas, also known …   Wikipedia

  • Master's degree non-Euroamerican — This page refers to Master s degrees outside of Europe and North America. For more information, please see Master s degrees. Contents 1 Hong Kong 1.1 MArch, MLA, MUD, MA, MSc, MSocSc, MSW, MEng, LLM 1.2 MPhil 2 Taiwan …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”