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Types of Master’s Degrees: What Way to Continue Your Postgraduate Studies

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John Milovich
John Milovich
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Former college customer turned freelance writer, shares insider insights on the essay industry.

Education is a long path with lots of forks. Now you are standing at the beginning of another one and need to choose what you should do next after your undergraduate studies. Before you read our extensive list of types of Master’s degrees (there are more than 100 items), let us clarify how they are distinguished.

All the “titles” are divided into two groups: taught and research Master's degrees. The prevailing number are taught and delivered through course-based classes. It means you are required to attend lectures and seminars, do laboratory works or other activities to complete modules. It resembles undergraduate studies. But the story is totally different with the research-based program. You are more independent in your education. As a rule, you set your timetable by yourself and focus your learning abilities on one or several projects. It does not mean you have turned adrift. A supervisor will direct and advise you, but most of the time you will be involved in your own project in a field of study you are specialized in. Research programs are usually more extended in time than course-based.

As a rule, a student is required to complete education on the bachelor’s level to apply for a master’s degree program. But there is also an option to do this right after high school. This is called an integrated master’s degree and lasts a year more than earning an undergraduate qualification. Such a choice is usually available for scientific and technological subjects.

Making a Choice between a Taught and Research Master's Degree

First, determine your career goals and academic interests and then decide what type of Master's degree suits you. If you are on a mission to gain a deeper qualification before starting looking for a job, or there is a specific profession you dream of, pay attention to a taught course. If you see your future in the academic field, or if research skills are vital for your profession, apply for a research-based course. Consider also Ph.D. programs for your scientific career.

Types of Taught Master's Degrees

The titles of Master's programs are given depending on their subject area. The three most common taught degrees are the Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MSc), and Master of Business Administration (MBA).

You can get the MA in Arts, Humanities, and related subjects, such as communications, languages, literature, linguistics, education, history, geography, and music. Students attend a series of lectures and seminars, pass an exam, and complete a dissertation on a chosen topic. The MSc is an equivalent of the MA in Science & Technology subjects, such as chemistry, health, engineering, and statistics. The MBA is designed for business leaders and managers and focuses on practical work, study, and training. A lot of MBA programs require having professional experience to apply for.

Do you want more details of the MA, MSc, and MBA? They are compared in this video:

Types of Research Master's Degrees

The most common research Master's programs are the Master of Research (MRes) and the Master of Philosophy (MPhil). However, they are less “popular” than taught courses. While getting the MRes degree, you learn how to be a researcher. You are required to complete several independent projects or to write a longer thesis than you would write for MA or MSc. While the MRes may include taught units, the MPhil is a pure research degree. The Master of Philosophy is a step towards the Doctor of Philosophy (the Ph.D.) degree for the majority of students.