Master's Degree Programs: The Ultimate Directory
Table of Contents
What Is a Master’s Degree?
A master’s degree is an advanced academic award that follows after someone finishes their bachelor's program.
Search Master's Programs, MA, MS, MBA, MSN, MSW, MPA
It often takes two years to earn, and it may allow you personal enhancement in your career as well as academic success at graduate school or within the field of study for which they were trained or educated.
When looking to enhance your career, earning an advanced degree may give you that competitive edge. In 2020 the Bureau of Labor Statistics found those with master's degrees were median weekly earners at $1,545 and unemployment rates of just 4%. If this sounds like your dream then consider getting started on obtaining one today!
Coursework for a master's degree can be tough. Some programs may require as few as 40 credits, while others might want 60 or more and some aren't even limited by the number of courses you take but rather what they entail in terms learning goals - so there is no set amount on this front! One thing that all these varying requirements typically have in common though? They aim to make sure your education reflects both theory-based knowledge (what we teach) versus applied skillset development like critical thinking which could help prepare YOU better than anyone else just sitting around reading books all day long ever could.
The minimum GPA for most master's degree programs is 3.0 or “B-” on the grade scale, but some schools may require higher GPAs than this while others might be more flexible with your academic performance in order to meet their requirements. A student should contact each individual school they are applying towards before determining what kind of degrees he/she wants pursue.
How to Qualify for a Master’s Degree Program
Many schools require prerequisites like having a bachelor’s degree with some kind of minimum GPA. However, other schools may place an emphasis on exams like the GRE or GMAT or even related academic or professional experience. Students may then need to submit specific application materials to the program.
How to Choose a Master's Degree Program
If you want to choose the "right" master's degree program
, then first you must determine what you want out of a master's program. Firstly, decide on what you want your professional and career goals to be. Secondly, research the degree you need to have for the field. Finally, learn about the specific programs and courses available.
Make choose a master's degree based on your long term career goal. Then, determine if you want to attend an online program or in person. For example, working full time may be incompatible with an in person program. As a result, online programs may provide more flexibility. Finally, always ensure the school is accredited. Some employers insist on this. Make sure to consider financial aid and scholarships. Generally, both may be available to those who qualify. In effect, pick a master's degree program aligned with your career goals and interests you.
Types of Master’s Degree Programs
Here are a few of the most common master’s degree programs available
. Degree programs have a range in titles, so no standardized naming convention exists. Make sure to keep in mind degree titles will vary.
Master of Arts Degree (MA)
A MA degree focuses on areas of humanities and arts. Chiefly, this includes performance, communications, or English. Some MA degrees include social sciences, such as sociology or psychology. Many of these MA programs focus on research and writing. Finally, some students may need to complete a thesis or capstone project. Altogether, an MA degree may open the door to many careers. Courses may include:
- Social Theory - A social theory class typically looks at contributors to social theory from the 19th century to current.
- Social Policy - A class on social policy may analyze at the practice of sociological research.
- Interpreting and Presenting Results - The students may learn how to get information from the research they have conducted.
- Social Policy and Planning - The social policy and planning class may offers an opportunity at learning and determining social policy.
Master of Science Degree (MS)
An MS degree focuses on tech and science. Consequently, this includes fields like computer science or engineering. Some graduates may go on to work in research based programs. Others go on to work as economists, political scientists, or research scientists. Further, some may need to complete further licensure requirements or certifications. Courses may include:
- Topics in Political Theory - Political theory typically looks at different angles and perspectives of the political world.
- Economics and Public Policy - The economics and public policy course might covers how the economy interacts with political agendas and plans.
- Geopolitics - Geopolitics examines how politics work on a global scale
- Public Policy - Public policy courses may look at how decisions on public policy are made. what influences them.
Master of Education Degree (M. ED)
Those with an educational career in mind may pursue an M. ED degree. M. EDs aim to help students improve skills for classroom use. This program may require additional certifications or licensing. Additionally, an M. ED degree is based on the specific interests of the student. Some may go on to design curriculum for schools. Others still, may continue to doctoral study. Courses may include:
- Designing Curriculum and Instruction - This class is designed to help educators in having creative options when creating lessons.
- Educational Research - With educational research the goal is to learn what the best methods are for getting through to students.
- Differentiated Instruction - The differentiated instruction course is designed to help educators learn the best way to reach all students in their program.
- Learning as a Science - Learning as a science is a class that focuses on how to best approach to how to best acclimate all students.
Master of Fine Arts Degree (MFA)
Depending on a students interests, an MFA degree may have various fields of study. For example, the degree may include writing or dance. Others may focus on fashion design. Photography is another instance of a program. Students may work to complete a capstone project. Certain programs have students teach their concentration to other students. MFA courses are different. Many are specific around the area of focus you are seeking. You may take courses in just your specialty. Other times, you may take others as well. Courses may include:
- Acting Courses - Many students take acting courses. This may include first year classes that teach beginning acting. Second year students may take methodology and acting.
- Voice and Speech Courses - Communication is key. Voice and speech courses are common in an MFA program. This may include learning to communicate fully. You may learn how to project your voice. Some involve singing.
- History and Theory - History, theory, and criticism are often a requirement of an MFA degree. Students may take a film course in this area. Many may learn how to analyze performance.
- Movement - This type of course focuses on using the body in communications. It may be a common component of acting and performance MFA degrees.
Master of Social Work Degree (MSW)
Social work practice and research may require an MSW. Concentrations can include mental health or gerontology. Additionally, other programs involve school social work or family services. Some students may focus on the research in this field. While others work with patients. Courses may include these:
- Trauma Informed Care - Students learn about trauma, it’s impact, and managing it. Some topics could include advanced methods of managing trauma.
- Social Work Research and Evaluation - These programs focus on research in the field. Student use evidenced based social work skills to enhance understandings in the field and evaluate program effectiveness.
- Structures and Processes - This includes topics on social welfare. It may focus on areas of analysis, policy change and how to develop new policies.
Master of Business Administration (MBA)
MBA students typically study advanced business topics like finance or management. Some even focus on leadership, project management or human resources strategies. Some students may obtain additional certifications in their field of study. Courses may include these:
- Marketing - This is often a research based program. It may also teach more advanced topics. Many students focus on marketing in their MBA. Others may focus on new concepts. Topics may include marketing strategy and planning.
- Financial Accounting and Management - Students may explore more advanced concepts of accounting. This includes budgeting. It may include analysis. Many times, it focuses on financial strategies. It may also focus on capital sources. Pro forma analysis and budgets are common.
- Leadership - MBA programs include leadership. Students may learn how to use various leadership styles. One example is sustainable ethical leadership.
Master of Public Administration (MPA)
A policy or administration career may benefit from an MPA program. Students focus on areas of business or finance. Some even work in areas of healthcare, social work, or psychology. Some even work in government agencies or nonprofit organizations. Graduates may seek positions in analysis or policy or public relations. Courses may include these:
- Nonprofit Management - These courses course focuses on governance structures. It may include developing funding sources. It also has a focus on legal and professional accountability. Students learn to think strategically.
- Public Management - This program may focus on skill building in public organizations. It may offer a management consulting focus. Other times it has a human resource focus. Leadership is a key component of this type of program. This includes improving managing styles.
- Policy Analysis - In a course like this, focus on evaluating public programs. It may include conducting research for the public and may also focus on administrative functions. It is a skill building course.
Master of Public Health (MPH)
Graduate students in this area often seek out health concepts and trends. They may relate their degree to public health and healthcare policies. Others focus on crisis prevention. Many may focus on other specific areas like dietician or community series managers. Courses may include these:
- Epidemiology - This type of course focuses on disease and its development. It often focuses on frequency and distribution. It may include studies on preventing illness.
- Public Health Systems - This course focuses on history and basic structures. It also focuses on health care delivery systems. It may discuss essential public health services. There is a strong operations focus.
- Health Policy and Management - The focus here is on setting and maintaining health policy. This is on a community basis. It may include how to develop policies. It may also discuss public health policy changes. Tools to develop these policies may also be a part of this course of study.
- Behavioral and Social Aspects of Public Health - This course focuses on social factors. It also addresses behavioral factors that relate to health. The focus is often on individual health. Population health may also be a covered topic here.
Master of Laws (M.L)
This advanced degree may help students to earn professional skills in a specific area. Some focus on education or business. Others focus on just personal injury or criminal law. It may help a student to concentrate on the services they offer. This degree program is unique. Many students choose a specific focus. The courses taken are in this specific area like health or criminal law. Courses may include a range of topics within this area. Courses may include:
- Health Law - The focus is on protecting the rights of people in terms of health. This may include legal concepts on privacy or health care access. Students may learn about health policy creation.
- International Law - It is sometimes focused. This may include international criminal law. It may be international business law. The focus is on how these international laws impact U.S. businesses or people.
- Criminal Law - This type of course is on all aspects of criminal law. That may include advanced topics on evidence. It may include an analysis beyond the courtroom. Some areas focus on specific areas of criminal law.
Master of Engineering (MEng)
Master of engineering degrees usually focuses on engineering enhanced education. Much of the coursework is specific to the field of study. Many may complete a research thesis or project. Some programs are research based. Others are based on skill development in the field. Courses may include these:
- Bioengineering - This course may focus on biomedical engineering and design. It may include aspects of chemical and electrical components. It also wraps mechanical engineering into this.
- Mechanical Engineering - Advanced studies may include data analytics. Students may also learn topics related to robotics. This is an emerging field with various components of study.
- Product Design and Manufacturing - The focus here is on the development of new products. It may also include aspects of how to turn ideas into objects. The focus on manufacturing also includes aspects of efficiency.
What Could I Pursue with a Master’s Degree ?
Enrolling in a master's degree program may provide new opportunities. Remember to keep in mind the range of opportunity here. Your graduate studies may likely to differ from what someone else studies. However, there may be many career opportunities in each field. For example, here is what you may be able to pursue after completing an online master’s program or an in person program
Social workers help others solve problems. They may also aid others in coping with problems in their everyday life. Social work can offer you work in a variety industries. For example, they may work in mental health clinics, human service agencies or child welfare.
Company executives typically lead organizations or businesses. They plan strategies, create and manage policy. Their overall goal is to help an organization to meet its goals.
Human Resource Manager
Many start with a bachelor’s degree. Moving to a master’s may create more opportunities to lead in human resource management. They work to help organizations manage their employees.
An economist may analyze data and evaluate economic issues. They may also research trends. They typically work in companies. Some also work in businesses. A doctoral degree may further their career.
Computer Systems Manager
Computer and information systems managers may take on leadership roles in companies or organizations. They may plan and coordinate various computer related tasks. Additionally, many may work in information science or a similar field. A bachelor’s degree is a starting point for the job. However, many go on to earn master’s and doctoral degrees.
Working in PR means to help companies improve public perception. In a practical sense, this means coordinating campaigns to generate positive "buzz" and good will towards organizations.
Is a Master’s Degree Worth It?
This is a personal decision for many people. By the numbers, the BLS, found in 2020 those with a master's degree earn a median weekly salary of $1,545 in 2020 and have a median unemployment rate of just 4.1%. However, there are more benefits than just income when earning a master's degree. Master’s students may benefit at a personal level. A few of the benefits of obtaining a master's degree include:
- Master’s programs help develop logical thinking skills. As a result, many may excel in analyzing or creating insights.
- Some students may use an online master’s degree program to help with a career change. After which, students may want to pursue a related or completely different area.
- Some people report that graduate education helps them to feel more capable of doing their job. It may also help them feel more well rounded in their field of study.
- It may help earn more professional experience. Ultimately, this enhances their ability to gain professional experience in other areas.
Take a look at some of the positions students may qualify for or pursue from using a master’s degree. While every path is unique, many students find it could be worth it to get a master’s degree.
Administrative Services Manager
Administrative service managers plan and coordinate a variety of tasks for organizations. They direct activities within a business or group. These service managers manage challenges as they arise.
- 2020 Annual Median Pay: $98,890 per year
- 2020 - 2030 Job Growth: 9%
Human Resource Manager
The human resource manager may work to manage administrative tasks within a business. In a practical sense, this often relates to employees. Common tasks may include hiring, training, and managing people. They may also direct others in these tasks.
- 2020 Annual Median Pay: $121,220 per year
- 2020 - 2030 Job Growth: 9%
Postsecondary teachers work in colleges and universities. Some instruct students directly. While others may work in leadership roles. Overall, they often work directly in creating curriculum. Others work in research focused areas of education.
- 2020 Annual Median Pay: $80,560 per year
- 2020 - 2030 Job Growth: 12%
Logisticians work in a company’s supply chain. They analyze the chain while coordinating various components. Many start with a bachelor’s degree. Typically, individuals move into management positions with more advanced degrees.
- 2020 Annual Median Pay: $76,270 per year
- 2020 - 2030 Job Growth: 30%
Advanced degrees in this field may help financial managers. These individuals create financial reports. For example, they may develop plans to help a company meet their long term goals. Moreover, many handle direct investment activity with their master’s degree.
- 2020Annual Median Pay: $134,180 per year
- 2020 - 2030 Job Growth: 17%
How Long Does It Take to Earn a Master’s Degree ?
In many cases, a typical master’s degree takes 1.5 to 2 years to complete. This is for full time students. Many factors play a role in completion time like enrolling part-time. Generally, how long it takes to earn a master's degree is dependent on the amount of credits you must earn and how many courses you are willing to take at once. However, many factors play a role in completion time like enrolling part-time and the amount of credits you must earn. Other factors impacting the length of may include:
- Program credits required: Typically this is 40 credits. It may range from 30 to 60 credits depending on program.
- Enrollment: Full time students often complete courses faster. This may include taking up to 16 to 18 credits each semester. Part time students may have more flexibility. In fact, they may be able to choose how many credits to take.
- Online programs: Some master’s degree online programs could speed up the process. This may mean students attend school strictly online.
- An accelerated master’s degree programs are an option. Accelerated degree programs allow students to work towards their master's while earning an undergraduate degree. Further, these programs condense material into a fewer number of credits. Finally, dual credits from undergraduate to graduate programs could help speed up education.
- Online degree options may vary. For instance, some online programs reduce the length of time to complete a program. This is very much specific to the specific field of study.
Scholarships for Online Master’s Degree Programs
You may be able to find financial aid for online master's degrees. This scholarship list includes in person and online programs of study. You may need to take a graduate level course of study to earn them. Remember to read each requirement for the scholarships listed. Additionally, you may have to meet specific GMAT or other qualifications to get them.
Finally, be sure to ask the graduate school about other options. In effect, many higher education programs offer financial opportunities for students. This includes loans, grants, and work study programs.
- Deadline: December 30
- Award: $1,000
The Good Samaritan Scholarship is open to all undergraduate, graduate, and law school students, as well as incoming college freshmen. Applicants must be enrolled at an accredited U.S. educational institution. The candidate must be in good academic standing with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.
- Deadline: December 31
- Award: $1,000
To be eligible for this scholarship, applicants must be enrolled in college, graduate school, or be a GED holder who are about to attend college; they also must show good academic standing by holding a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
- Deadline: November 30
- Award: $1,000
The Second Chance Scholarship is awarded annually. It is for students with a 3.0 GPA and are residents of the US.
How do I Choose a Masters Program?
When choosing the right master's degree you must determine what you want to do. Your professional career goals should be a priority. Next, research what type of degree you need to have in that field. Finally, learn about the types of programs and courses available.
List of Popular Master's Degree Programs
Graduate schools with Master's Degree Programs
Master's Degree Salary & Employment
|State||Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
|District of Columbia||20,010||$135,970|
|Metro Area||Annual Mean Salary||Employment|
|San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA||$148,700||4,200|
|San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA||$147,270||11,980|
|California-Lexington Park, MD||$145,620||490|
GradSchools.com offers 2269 Graduate Schools with Master's Degree Programs
Wake Forest University
The University of Arizona Global Campus
Colorado State University Global
Grand Canyon University
Western Governors University
California State University, Northridge
Full Sail University
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology