5 Types of Master’s Degrees You Need to Know About

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These 5 types of master’s degrees should help ease your future academic decisions!


Why do people go to grad school? Some want to advance in their existing careers. Others are looking for a fresh start and a new career direction. Whatever the reason, choosing between different types of master’s degrees requires careful thought and consideration.


There are vast differences between undergraduate and graduate degrees to be considered when choosing a program. Typically, the classroom size in graduate programs are smaller than those in undergraduate programs. This enhances both specialized group discussions as well as overall attendance. The focus of graduate degrees, however, is often outside of the classroom. While undergraduate courses center around exams and class participation, graduate programs tend to focus more on developing research and communication skills and less on regularly scheduled lectures and exams.


When choosing your next career direction, consider these 5 types of master’s degrees:



1. MBA

Master of Business Administration degrees target those already somewhat advanced in their careers and looking for a professional boost. Still, some may choose to enter an MBA program before starting a career, which often leads to fields such as finance, economics, or management.



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Some common benefits of completing an MBA program include:



Higher employment rates:


MBA graduates enjoy greater job security by learning a skill set marketable to employers in the long-term. In an annual poll of employers conducted in 2016, 96% of responding employers reported that hiring graduates from business programs adds value to the organization as a whole.



Increased earning potential:


Research shows that the average pay of an MBA graduate increased by 50% upon completing the master’s program. Earning a master of business degree will signal to employers a commitment to professionalism and, often, to successful management.



Degree specialization:


While MBA programs are often broad in the scope of their subject, specializations are often offered as well. Courses focused on a particular industry or concentration give students the opportunity to sample possible career paths before actually entering the workforce. Marketing, innovation, business analytics, or management, for example, are common specialties students can focus on while earning their graduate degree.



Expanded professional network:


Your peers in business school will introduce you to different industries, business practices, and cultures; and expanding your professional network might present you with unexpected opportunities later in your career.



2. Master of Arts

Typically between 2 and 4 years, the M.A. is one of the most accessible degrees for students. Master of Arts degrees often cover the field of social science, including sociology, political science, psychology, anthropology, and can be either research or academic-based degrees.


While business degrees and more specialized master degrees often present particular career pathways, Master of Arts degrees nurture a broad set of social and professional skills.


MA degrees are socially-centric, meaning that from a sociological or anthropological perspective, students consider complex theories and their long-term and short-term implications.



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So, how can this theoretical knowledge improve your practical career prospects?


Employers want to know why your M.A. degree sets you apart from the other candidates. During your interview, be sure to mention the transferable skills you learned, courses relevant to the position or company, final projects, and group assignments. Emphasize your will to learn and improve, and how that motivation will translate into your next role.



3. Master of Science

M.Sc. degrees share a philosophical approach to M.A. degrees, although they are typically more technical in their career orientation. A computer science degree, as an example, presents specialized knowledge related to technology and can increase your access to career opportunities and salary prospects.


For those already working in the technology sector, an M.Sc. can expand your specialized skills, for example, in the areas of artificial intelligence, network security, or software.


Among those newer in their careers, an M.Sc. provides a foundation for research and development, introducing students to various technology industries.



4. Master of Education

Many current and aspiring teachers pursue a Master of Education for various reasons. Most commonly, the goals of graduate education students include obtaining official certifications, making a career change, establishing a specialty, and enhancing earning potential.



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Advanced teaching degrees often attract those with a love for learning and the desire to influence and affect change. To increase the amount of highly skilled teachers around the world, University of the People and the International Baccalaureate have launched a tuition-free online Master of Education program.


Designed to train students for dynamic careers in education, UoPeople’s Master of Education uses a multi-disciplinary approach, including human development, teaching and learning theory, behavior management, and assessment of learning.


The program offers two specializations: Elementary/Middle School Education and Secondary Education. The academic year is split into five (5) nine-week terms, and can be completed either full-time or part-time. In certain cases, students may be permitted to use an accelerated track.


Our M.Ed. program aims to develop highly developed teaching skills, equipping each student with the ability to set classroom learning goals and objectives, identify instructional needs of individual learners, create and maintain an effective learning environment, employ instructional approaches and activities, and engage in continuing professional development.



5. Alternative Degrees

While graduate school provides a wide range of economic rewards and career opportunities, there are many non-financial benefits as well. Going back to school can renew your energy to learn, it offers the opportunity to finally make a career change, and it expands cognitive development.


For those who have been thinking of going back to school and are having trouble choosing a master’s degree, the following programs may be of interest:



Master of Public Administration


Similar to a public policy degree, an MPA focuses on the public sector, with specialties in areas such as international administration, science and technology, and the environment.



Master of Social Work


The MSW degree prepares students for careers in political advocacy and community organizing, focusing on improving the quality of life among both individuals and communities.



Master of Laws


Many law graduates pursue a Master of Laws, or LLM, degree to narrow down their interests or to switch specialties. If you have already completed an academic degree but feel that you did not get the specialty right the first time, the LLM might be the right next step in your career!



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Make sure to select a graduate degree that connects with your existing professional achievements and sets you up for a successful career going forward. Remember that whether you have just completed your undergraduate degree or have already advanced in your career, the decision should not be made lightly.


Ask yourself the question: Why do I want to earn a Master’s degree? Consider the length of the degree and its financial investment. Though it can seem daunting, the decision can be made easier with proper research of various programs available to you. Check the program’s requirements for admission, assess your own strengths and weaknesses, and practically assess your own qualifications against each of the programs.


Many universities will provide students with academic counseling, providing support and guidance throughout the academic journey. Each student who enters an academic program with University of the People will be connected with a Program Advisor who will remain a source of support until graduation.


Find out more about UoPeople’s tuition-free graduate degrees here.