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Encyclopedia > Master's

A master's degree is an academic degree usually awarded for completion of a postgraduate or graduate course of one to three years in duration. In the UK it is sometimes awarded for an undergraduate course whose final year consists of higher-level courses and a major research project. In the recent standardized European system of higher education diplomas, it corresponds to a two-year graduate program to be entered after three years of undergraduate studies and in preparation for either high-qualification employment or for doctoral studies. A degree is any of a wide range of awards made by institutions of higher education, such as universities, normally as the result of successfully completing a program of study. ... Quaternary education or postgraduate education is the fourth-stage educational level which follows the completion of an undergraduate degree at a college or university. ... A graduate school is the school that a college student may attend after completion of his or her undergraduate education in order to obtain a degree higher than a Bachelors degree. ... The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a country in western Europe, and member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the G8, the European Union, and NATO. Usually known simply as the United Kingdom, the UK, or (inaccurately) as Great Britain or Britain, the UK has four constituent... A doctorate is an academic degree of the highest level. ...


North America


The Master of Arts (Magister Artium) and Master of Science (Magister Scientiæ) degrees are the basic type in most subjects and may be entirely course-based, entirely research-based or a mixture. The master's degree is intermediate between a bachelor's degree and a doctorate. In some fields, one customarily earns a master's before a doctorate; in others, work on a doctorate begins immediately after the bachelor's degree. Some programs provide for a joint bachelor's and master's degree after about five years.-1... A doctorate is an academic degree of the highest level. ...


In the United States and Canada, a Master of Philosophy or MPhil degree is sometimes awarded to ABD (all but dissertation) doctoral candidates who have completed all coursework, passed their written and oral examinations, and met any other special requirements before beginning work on the doctoral dissertation. This article is about the thesis in dialectics and academia. ...


Coursework and practica leading to a Master of Arts in Teaching degree is intended to prepare individuals for a teaching career in a specific subject of middle and/or secondary-level curricula (i.e., middle or high school). The MAT differs from the MEd degree in that the course requirements are dominated by classes in the subject area to be taught (e.g., foreign language, math, science, etc.) rather than educational theory. Work toward most MAT degrees will, however, necessarily include classes on educational theory in order to meet program and state requirements. Work toward the MAT degree may also include practica (i.e., student teaching).

Professional Degree

MBA, or "Master's in Business Administration", and MPA, or Master's in Public Administration, are the highest professional-oriented degrees (see professional degree. Master of Business Administration (MBA) is a tertiary degree in business management. ... Professional Masters degrees are awarded by a university and require that a candidate already has been awarded a first degree, normally a bachelors degree to matriculate into the program. ...


Master of Education degrees are similar to MA, MS and MSc where the subject studied is education. Education encompasses teaching and learning specific skills, and also something less tangible but more profound: the imparting of knowledge, good judgement and wisdom. ...

In the United States some states license teachers with a bachelor's degree but require a master's within a set number of years as continuing education. In education, teachers are those who teach students or pupils, often a course of study or a practical skill. ...

United Kingdom

Undergraduate Masters

(MSci, MChem, MComp, MEng, MMath, MPhys, etc.) In the UK, many universities now have a four year undergrad programme in science courses, with a project in the final year. The awards for these are named after the subject, so a course in mathematics would earn a Master of Mathematics degree, (abbreviated to MMath), or have a general title such as MSci (Master in Science at most universities but Master of Natural Sciences at Cambridge). Although these degrees reflect a higher level of achievement than the traditional bachelor's degree, some are generally considered to rank below postgraduate master's degrees such as MSc and MA. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a country in western Europe, and member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the G8, the European Union, and NATO. Usually known simply as the United Kingdom, the UK, or (inaccurately) as Great Britain or Britain, the UK has four constituent... Mathematics, often abbreviated maths in Commonwealth English and math in American English, is the study of abstraction. ... -1...

Postgraduate Masters

(MSc, MA) These can either be "taught" degrees, involving lectures, examination and a short dissertation, or "research" degrees (though the latter have largely been replaced by MPhil and MRes programmes, see below). Taught masters' programmes involve 1 or 2 years of full-time study. The programmes are often very intensive and demanding, and concentrate on one very specialised area of knowledge. Some universities also offer a Masters by Learning Contract scheme, where a candidate can specify his or her own learning objectives; these are submitted to supervising academics for approval, and are assessed by means of written reports, practical demonstrations and presentations.

Until recently, both the undergraduate and postgraduate master's degrees were awarded without grade or class (like the class of a bachelor's degree). Nowadays however, masters degrees are classified into the categories of Pass, Merit and Distinction – commonly 50+, 60+, and 70+ percent marks, respectively. (UK)

MPhil and MRes

The Master of Philosophy is a research degree awarded for the completion of a thesis. It is a shorter version of the Ph.D. and some universities routinely enter potential PhD students into the MPhil programme and allow them to upgrade to the full PhD programme a year or two into the course. The Master of Research degree is a more structured and organised version of the MPhil, usually designed to prepare a student for a career in research. For example, an MRes may combine individual research with periods of work placement in research establisments. Doctor of Philosophy (Ph. ...

Like the PhD, the MPhil and MRes degrees are awarded without class or grade.

MAs in Oxford, Cambridge and Dublin

The universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Dublin award master's degrees to BAs without further examination, when a certain number of years after matriculation (7 in the case of Oxford and Cambridge) have passed, and upon payment of a nominal fee. It is commonplace for recipients of the degree to have graduated several years previously and to have had little official contact with the university or academic life since then. The only real significance of these degrees is that they historically conferred voting rights in University elections, and certain other privileges e.g. the right to dine at high table. For the purpose of comparison, they are considered equivalent to BA/BSc degrees of other universities. The MAs awarded by Oxford and Cambridge are colloquially known as the Oxbridge MA. The University of Cambridge also offers an MA to senior staff both academic and non academic after five years employment with the university. The University of Oxford, situated in the city of Oxford in England, is the oldest university in the English-speaking world. ... The University of Cambridge is the second-oldest university in the English-speaking world (after Oxford). ... The College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Queen Elizabeth near Dublin or more commonly Trinity College, Dublin (TCD) was founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I, is the only constituent college of the University of Dublin, Irelands oldest university. ... Matriculation refers to the formal process of entering a university, or of becoming eligible to enter by acquiring the required prior qualifications. ...

Until the advent of the modern research university in the mid 19th century, several other British and American universities also gave such degrees "in course".

Scottish MA

Although the science faculties of Scottish universities award the BSc degree, the standard first degree in Arts faculties (at the four ancient universities) is the Master of Arts (MA). This is equivalent to a BA from an English university. The Ancient universities in Scotland comprise: The University of St Andrews (founded 1413) The University of Glasgow (1451) The University of Aberdeen (1495) The University of Edinburgh (1583) Uniquely, the Ancient Universities award a Masters degree for Arts Undergraduate courses (known as Scottish MA); the degrees are equivalent to...

European Union

In order to facilitate the movement of students between European Union countries, a standardized schedule of higher education diplomas, also known as the Bologna process, was proposed: a 3-year undergraduate degree called licence or bachelor's degree, then a two-year diploma called master, then a doctorate, meant to be obtained in 3 years. Because of these indicated schedules, the reform is also referred to as 3-5-8. The purpose of the Bologna process is to create the European higher education area by harmonising academic degree standards and quality assurance standards throughout Europe. ... A doctorate is an academic degree of the highest level. ...


In France, a traditional diploma was the maîtrise (which translates literally as "master's qualification") after 4 years of studies. This diploma becomes the first year of the Master's program, often referred to as M1. Because of this change, legal texts specifying a maîtrise (for instance, those defining the conditions for the external agrégation) had to be amended. The Master's programs subsume the former DEA, (research-oriented 1-year degree) and DESS (industry-oriented 1-year degree). The French Republic or France (French: République française or France) is a country whose metropolitan territory is located in western Europe, and which is further made up of a collection of overseas islands and territories located in other continents. ... In France, the agrégation is a civil service competitive examination for some positions in the public education system. ... In France, a DEA (full name: diplôme détudes approfondies, or diploma of advanced studies) is a (now former) postgraduate degree. ...


In Poland a master's degree mean completion of higher education - 5 years programme in science courses at university or other similar institution, with a project in the final year called "magisterium" (it can be translated as Master of Arts thesis) that usually require making research in given field. MA degree is called "magister" (or "mgr") except of medical education where is called "lekarz medycyny" (what should be mean as rights for physician title usage) or "lekarz weterynarii" in veterinary field. Completion of higher engineering education is called "inżynier" (engineer) degree and can be completed with MA diploma usually in the same year, and it will be called "magister inżynier" (or "mgr inż."). The Republic of Poland, a democratic country with a population of 38,626,349 and area of 312,685 km², is located in Central Europe, between Germany to the west, the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south, Ukraine and Belarus to the east, and the Baltic Sea, Lithuania and...

The Netherlands

In the Netherlands the traditional acadamic degrees were doctorandus (drs.), ingenieur (ir.) and meester in de rechten (mr.) after 4 or 5 (6 years for Medicine) years of studies. Even though universities have adopted the master's and bachelor's degree system, the old titles drs., ir. and mr. are still used (and the use of them is protected by law). The doctorandus (literally meaning "he who has to become doctor") degree is comparable with the MA degree (sometimes MSc). The ingenieur (engineer) degree is comparable with an M.Eng. or MSc degree. In the Netherlands an MSc degree replaces the ingenieur degree. Finally, the mr. degree is comparable with the LL.M degree.

Hong Kong

MA, MSc, MSocSc, MSW, MEng, LLM

These are taught masters' degree that require one years of full-time coursework.


As in the United Kingdom, MPhil or Master of Philosophy is a research degree awarded for the completion of a thesis, and is a shorter version of the PhD.

See also

-1... Professional Masters degrees are awarded by a university and require that a candidate already has been awarded a first degree, normally a bachelors degree to matriculate into the program. ... Master of Business Administration (MBA) is a tertiary degree in business management. ... An academic degree called a licentiate or one of its cognates exists in various European countries, representing different educational levels. ... An engineers degree is an academic degree which is intermediate in rank between a masters degree and a doctorate; it is occasionally to be encountered in the United States in technical fields. ... A doctorate is an academic degree of the highest level. ... Abbreviations are normally used to specify a degree, rather than spelling out the name in full. ... This article concerns the Degrees of Oxford University. ...

External links

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