You are here

How long is a Masters Degree and other Masters Study FAQs

Print Friendly and PDF

email share widget

Masters Study FAQs

Once you have completed your undergraduate degree, it can be attractive to take the next progression in your studies and pursue a Masters degree. But what exactly is involved in getting your Masters degree? Here are some Masters Study FAQS to keep in mind as you consider your next move.

How do I know a Masters is for me?

For some undergraduate students, a Masters is a natural step towards a PhD and eventually an academic career that might involve teaching or research. For others, focusing on specialised postgraduate studies helps connect their undergraduate experience to specific career goals. In some instances, a Masters offers time to reflect on different career options in a more professional setting and allows a student to gain further qualifications.

What exactly is a Masters degree and what is the difference between postgraduate and Masters degree?

A Masters degree is the second step towards a PhD and is pursued after your undergraduate degree. Masters programmes are self-contained courses of study concentrated on a certain area that has some independent research component.

The term postgraduate study can sometimes be used interchangeably with Masters degree; however, it ultimately depends on the university. Some certifications and degrees are post-baccalaureate, but do not constitute a Masters degree per se. It is therefore important to check with the institution and also with the general requirements of the career path that you are looking into. Different fields often have different academic requirements.

How long is a Masters degree programme?

Most Masters programmes run for one year full-time and two years part-time. Most institutions require a total of 180 credits in order to receive your Masters degree. To apply to any programme, you will require an undergraduate degree.

What is the difference between postgraduate diploma and Masters degree?

For some universities, the difference between a postgraduate diploma and a Masters degree lies in the amount of credits contained within the courses. A key difference between a postgraduate diploma and a Masters degree is that the latter frequently offers its students more credits, upon completion of the course, as compared to successfully completing a postgraduate diploma. This is another reason why employers are more likely to look favourably upon a Masters degree than a postgraduate diploma, although this obviously depends on the practices within that specific industry.

Another notable difference between postgraduate diplomas and Masters degrees is that a Masters course normally involves a dissertation or project element which is not usually entailed in the course of completing a postgraduate diploma. Overall, a Masters degree is generally considered an ‘upgrade’ from a postgraduate diploma and perhaps more academically demanding.

MA, MSc, MRes, MPhil – what’s the difference between them all?

The most common designations are the MA (Master of Arts) and the MSc (Master of Science). As their names imply, these are similar to undergraduate BA and BSc degrees. Other Masters degrees focus more on a student’s ability to do independent research tasks. These are commonly referred to as MRes (Master of Research) and the MPhil (Master of Philosophy).

An MRes programme has some taught components, but then moves quickly to research assignments. This type of degree is typically entirely research-based and involves similar work to a PhD degree. The MPhil is similar, but projects are completed in a shorter timeframe and students are not awarded the title of ‘Doctor’.

How about an MBA? What is an MBA?

An MBA (Master of Business Administration) is pursued by business professionals seeking to enhance their career opportunities. MBA students have specific goals and generally have a few years of work experience before attending business school. For this reason, many don’t seek an MBA right after an undergraduate degree.

What can I study and how can I do that?

There is a huge range of subjects for a Masters degree, including those offered at the undergraduate level, along with many specialised courses that may be new or more complex. Because postgraduate students are often mature in age, with additional family or work commitments, many universities offer flexible Masters study programmes. Programmes have part-time options and some will even give an additional option for distance learning by allowing people to enroll as an off-campus student. Regarding this aspect, there is little difference between postgraduate and Masters courses.

What else would I need?

Most institutions require additional tests to be submitted with the Masters application process. Two of the most common tests required are the GRE and the GMAT. The GRE is useful when applying to study abroad and the GMAT is specifically designed for business programmes, like an MBA.

If English is not your first language, you may be asked to submit the results of a language test, like an IELTS and the TOEFL. You’ll also have to prepare a personal statement on why you wish to enrol onto a particular programme and provide reliable references in support of your Masters application. Ensure that the personal statement is articulate and states clearly how you can benefit from your field of study and how this may contribute to the field, in general. Your references should come from professionals, either former teachers or previous employers. Funding a Masters degree is largely a personal matter, but there are many scholarships and personal loans you can access, if need be. Finally, don’t forget to include your CV with your application.

Pursuing a Masters degree can be a satisfying endeavour that will lead to a flourishing career. These tips should help you make the best decision possible for your future, and they should answer some of the questions you might have, for instance, ‘how long is a Masters’, and what the difference between postgraduate and Masters degrees really are.

Now, having hopefully had most of your questions answered, see if there are any academic programmes here which take your fancy. 

Subscribe to our Free newsletter now!

Subscribe now and get the top stories delivered directly to your inbox