Call Us Toll Free Call us: 1-855-225-1006

To Speak With a College Advisor. It's free.

Master's Degrees Explained

By Amber Hilton,
Staff Writer

A Master's degree can be the catalyst for career advancement.

A master's degree is a graduate degree that generally takes two years of full-time study to earn. Master's degree programs are available in various areas of study, and part-time and online options allow students the flexibility to earn a master's degree while also attending to work or family responsibilities.

Master's degrees are often considered terminal degrees, typically pursued by professionals who want to advance in their careers. Although the typical master's degree program takes about two years of full-time study to complete, some students may opt for part-time study for financial or personal reasons, which increases the time needed to complete the program. In some cases, an employer may help pay for an employee to go back to school to get a master's degree or other advanced education.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a service of the U.S. Department of Education, the most popular areas of study at the master's degree level in 2007-2008 were education and business, with 176,000 and 156,000 degrees conferred, respectively. Depending on the institution and area of study, a master's degree program may lead to a Master of Science (M.S.) or Master of Arts (M.A.). Specialty master's degrees are also available, including the popular Master of Business Administration (MBA).

Because master's degree programs are often aimed at professionals, many schools offer more flexible online master's degree programs in many areas of study. This way, students can work at their own pace without having to travel to a campus setting. Students enjoy the flexibility of setting their own schedules and the lack of a commute, which allows them the ability to juggle course work with work and family commitments. Other schools may offer hybrid programs that include a mixture of classroom labs and online coursework. Part-time master's degree programs are also available that allow students to take courses in the evening or on weekends.

Dual degree programs are yet another option, which allow students to earn their master's degree while also pursing a doctoral degree. For example, students pursing a Juris Doctorate (J.D.) degree (the degree necessary to become a lawyer) can often earn a specialized master's degree in accounting, business or political science at the same time. However, earning a master's degree while simultaneously earning a doctoral degree may take much longer than two years, from as little as four years to as many as ten.

Now that you know Master's Degrees Explained, you have the basic information needed to start considering what type of master's degree will work best for you. Remember, a variety of different options are available, so you can likely find a master's degree programs to fit with your lifestyle and budget.

Last edited: January 6, 2012, 8:02 pm EST
Advance Your Career With the Right Degree

Advance your career with the right degree.

The perfect school match in seconds