What is a Master’s Degree?

This refers to a post-graduate degree pursued by a student who has previously received a bachelor’s degree. The master’s degree is typically conferred on a student after an additional one to two years of full-time study post-bachelor’s degree. Students graduating with a master’s degree should have advanced knowledge of a specialized body of applied and theoretical topics, a superior level of skills and techniques related to their chosen field, and an assortment of professional and transferable skills gained through highly focused and independent learning and research.

There’s a vast array of master’s degree programs on offer as almost all fields have at least a sub-specialty in which one can get a master’s. A few areas that offer a master’s degree are health sciences, education, engineering, mathematics, social services, management, business, chemical/physical/biological sciences, computer science, veterinary science, and arts and humanities. When selecting a master’s degree program, a student needs to consider its cost, the time it’ll take to complete, the wage differential for the degree, and their career goals. Ensuring that the chosen program is accredited and covers the particular curriculum that will help one accomplish their career and workplace goals is crucial as well.

Deciding whether one should or shouldn’t pursue a master’s degree is complex. There are different reasons why students are interested in earning a master’s degree. For some, it’s a way of academic enhancement, while others take it as a good investment that will help them earn better in the future. Typically, when armed with a master’s degree, a job applicant can compete for jobs with more responsibilities and higher salaries. While some professions make it compulsory to possess a master’s degree, others may not require it but still prefer it. Even if someone’s profession doesn’t need a master’s degree, there could still be a wage differential for employees that would make the degree worth the effort, time, and money.

Today, a growing trend is that professions, which earlier employed people with just a bachelor’s degree, are now looking for master’s degree holders even for their entry-level jobs. Examples are nurse practitioners, physician assistants, urban planners, statisticians, and occupational therapists, all of whom need a master’s degree today to enter their respective fields. This is called “degree inflation,” which means new workers need the degree to get the job, while already employed workers may need to get a master’s degree sometime soon to hold onto their jobs.

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