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Master's Degree

Prove Your Knowledge Mastery With a Master’s Degree

Once you’ve laid a solid foundation of knowledge with your bachelor’s degree, you may want to consider the focused curriculum that makes up a master’s program. This is the first degree that one can earn in what’s known as graduate studies, and will firmly establish your position as a subject matter expert in your field. The three main reasons people choose to pursue a master’s are: 1. She or he already holds a bachelor’s degree. 2. She or he knows the chosen career path will require a master’s degree, and 3. To qualify for a promotion or higher salary.

The average time to complete a master’s degree is two years, though there are many factors that influence this. Sometimes, life experience can be translated into credits, shortening the amount of time spent in school. On the other hand, many working professionals work toward a master’s while maintaining their full-time job, knocking out one class a semester and one or two during the summer. No matter your time frame, expect to earn between 36 and 54 credits, which converts into 12 to 18 classes.

Many people treat their master’s program as an extension of their undergrad studies, but this is not always a requirement. There are many master’s degrees that simply require you to have earned a bachelor’s. For example, most schools that offer a Master of Business Administration, commonly known as the MBA, do not focus on prerequisites: instead, they offer conditional admissions that require you to successfully complete a specific number of classes successfully. However, because of the advanced and specific nature of master’s programs, it might be very difficult to obtain a master’s in a completely different topic altogether. You wouldn’t want to go from a communications undergrad to a philosophy master’s, for instance, because you would lack the foundational knowledge in philosophy to support graduate coursework.

Master’s degrees have grown in popularity in recent years. The National Council for Education Statistics reported a 63 percent increase in the number of working professionals who had earned their master’s. This number is expected to move up to 90 percent by 2022. This is partly due to the number of popular careers that now require a master’s degree. Social workers, librarians, statisticians, historians, urban planners, political scientists, and economists are all expected to complete master’s-level studies. One of the benefits of this higher demand is that if you decide to study for a master’s degree, you will likely have an online option. The amount of financial assistance available for master’s students is increasing as well, with employer tuition reimbursement, state grants, and institutional scholarships filling in where undergrad financial aid leaves off.

Now that you’re armed with the appropriate knowledge, we recommend reflecting on these questions before choosing an accredited master’s degree program. Doing so will dramatically improve your chances of success:

  • Can I legitimately handle being a full-time student, or do I need to continue working?
  • Can I handle the rigor of year-round studies, or should I take summers off?
  • Am I a self-starter who can handle the responsibility of driving my own education?
  • Will I function better in a peer-based classroom setting or a self-paced online course?

Knowing the answers to these questions will ensure you get your program off on the right foot, and enjoy the process of becoming a master of knowledge.

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