Master's Degree Programs: The Ultimate Directory in Pennsylvania

What is A Master’s Degree?

A master’s degree is an academic degree awarded by a college or university upon completion of a specific course of study. Students may obtain a master’s to further their studies in a specialized field and to gain highly developed skills in analysis and critical thinking. Also known as a second-cycle academic degree, this degree usually precedes a Doctorate or Ph.D.

Do You Need a Master’s Degree?

On average, full-time workers with a master’s degree can potentially earn up to $77,844 more per year compared to all workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Professional development, cultivating more expertise in your field of study, and potentially earning this salary increase are a among the reasons many students consider earning a masters. In some occupations you may need a  graduate level degree in your field to qualify for entry-level jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a masters may not be required but having one might lead to advancement or higher pay.  Some students may even earn a degree to continue their education at the doctoral level. Best Masters Degree Programs  in  Pennsylvania

How Long Does It Take to Earn a Master’s Degree?

Most master degree programs require 1-2 years of study, depending on the program type and enrollment. This may entail completing around 36 to 54 semester credits or 60 to 90 quarter semester credits; equivalent to about 12 to 18 graduate-level courses. Of course, program lengths and course requirements vary by school and type of master’s Degree Program. A bachelor’s degree is typically required to apply into a master’s program, although some programs combine the two degrees.

How Much Does A Master’s Degree Cost?

According to Sallie Mae, the average cost of a master’s degree was $24,812 for 2016-2017 full-time students. However, earning a masters can vary in cost based on several factors such as in state residency, out of state residency, online, blended or accelerated programs. Learn more about how much it may cost here. Many graduate schools charge a cost per credit hour instead of charging a flat fee for tuition. This unit price reflects the number of classroom hours per week throughout a term. Usually it’s 3 credits per course, and around 30 to 36 credits to earn a degree.

What is the Best Master’s Degree To Get?

The best master’s degree to get depends completely on your goals. For many it may be to increase your salary or to gain more skills in a specific area. Below are the most popular in terms of degrees awarded by subject.

7 Popular Degree Majors (according to the NCES by graduate degrees granted in 2015-2016)

Master of Science Degree

The Master of Science, or MS degree, is a type of masters degree that is typically awarded in the sciences, technology, engineering, medicine and mathematical subjects such as computer science and analytics. Generally, an M.S. degree takes 2 years of full time study and requires a thesis or research project. Admission to M.S. programs is usually contingent on the applicant having previously obtained their Bachelor’s degree which is often a Bachelor of Science.

Master of Arts Degree

The Master of Arts, or MA degree, is a type of graduate degree which includes all arts and humanities disciplines as well as some social sciences. The M.A. degree is typically awarded in English, history, communication studies, international relations, international business administration, humanities, philosophy, and social sciences. Generally, an MA degree takes 2 years of full-time study for a non-thesis program, and longer for a thesis option; the Master of Arts (M.A.) may either be entirely course-based, entirely research-based or a combination. Admission to M.A. programs is usually contingent on the applicant having previously obtained their Bachelor’s degree which is often a Bachelor of Arts.

Master of Fine Arts Degree

The Master of Fine Arts, or MFA degree, is a graduate degree usually requiring 2 to 3 years of postgraduate study after a Bachelor’s degree (Bachelor of Fine Arts). Unlike the Master of Arts, the M.F.A. centers around practice in a particular discipline and is recognized as a terminal degree in visual arts, design, dance, photography, theater, and creative writing.

Master of Business Administration Degrees

The Master of Business Administration, or MBA degree,  is a graduate degree in business administration (management) originating in the U.S. as a scientific approach to management; it is both a terminal degree and a professional degree. Core topics in MBA programs commonly cover accounting, finance, marketing, human resources, operations.

PSM Degrees

The Professional Science Master, or PSM degree, is a graduate degree intended to allow students to pursue advance training in science or mathematics at the same time as developing workplace skills. PSM programs tend to be interdisciplinary, can take about 2 years of full time study, and usually involve an internship. Often, you can find the PSM degree in forensic science, computational chemistry, applied mathematics and bioinformatics programs (STEM fields).
BY THE NUMBERS In 2017–18, over half of the 820,000 master’s degrees conferred were concentrated in three fields of study: business (192,000 degrees), education (146,000 degrees), and health professions and related programs (25,000 degrees).

Try a MicroMasters Program

MicroMasters programs are a set of masters-level online courses that help you earn professional credentials and valuable university credits. Now you can test drive a MicroMasters Program for Free! Browse MicroMasters Programs now. Some popular types of master degree programs are Master of Science (MS Degree), Master of Arts (MA Degree), Master of Fine Arts (MFA Degree), and Master of Business Administration (MBA Degree). The type of master degree awarded may depend on the school, program focus and area of study.

What Master’s Degree Degree Should You Get?

Use our subject selection filter at the top of this page or start with the list below to find some of the most awarded degrees (by subject). You will find accredited M.A., M.S., M.F.A., M.B.A., P.S.M. and other specific master degree programs with the help of our subject selection and sponsored program listings. The broad list of masters degree programs include the following subjects:

Potential Features of Masters Degree Programs

The basic premise behind earning a graduate degree is that the student has achieved a “high-order overview” of their academic discipline. This could involve the following.
  • Advanced knowledge of a specialized body of theoretical and practical topics
  • Highly developed skills in analysis and critical thinking
  • Understanding of professional application of their subject matter
  • Ability to solve complex problems
  • Independent thinking
While Masters programs vary in scope, these capabilities might be achieved through rigorous coursework, a thesis paper or final project, an internship or supervised practicum, exams and case studies.

How to Choose a Master’s Program

  1. Your degree should reflect your professional career needs as well as targeting your academic goals.
  2. Remember your M’s: MS, MA, MEd, MBA, MFA, PSM, and whether you are excited to study on campus or need the convenience of online.
  3. Read these helpful articles to help you navigate subjects like accreditation and applications.
  4. Finally, always reach out to the graduate school for full program details, especially because there are deadlines and you want to stay ahead of the class as you master your field of study!

Can I Get My Master’s Degree Online?

Yes! There are many online programs available! You can often choose between a campus and online masters program format as well as low residency formats which are mostly online but require some in-person attendance. In some cases, especially for human centered and medical fields, your options for online degrees may be limited, however a hybrid or low residency choice may be offered.
Top States for Employment for Managers, All Other
StateEmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
California53,390$125,700
District of Columbia20,010$135,970
New Jersey19,170$129,380
Florida18,960$93,970
Virginia16,740$127,100

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Top Salary Metro Areas in the United States: Managers, All Other
Metro AreaAnnual Mean SalaryEmployment
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA$148,7004,200
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA$147,27011,980
California-Lexington Park, MD$145,620490
Kennewick-Richland, WA$134,880280
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV$134,42037,550

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Top Graduate Schools with Masters – 8 Programs in Pennsylvania

  • Widener University

  • Pennsylvania State University

  • The University of Scranton

  • Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

  • Northcentral University

  • Moore College Of Art And Design

  • Edinboro University of Pennsylvania

  • Villanova University

  • Harrisburg University of Science and Technology

  • Arcadia University

  • Temple University

  • Messiah University

  • Alvernia University

  • Carlow University

  • Thomas Jefferson University