Important Considerations When Pursuing a Master's Degree

Getting a master's degree will be an incredible source of pride and help bring you professional opportunities you may not have previously thought possible. However, you need to know a few things before you get started.

Why You Want One

The most common reason that people seek a master's degree is to advance in their profession and earn more money. Others, however, go this route in order to change careers completely. For example, you may have earned a bachelor's degree in English and later decide you want to become a counselor. In that case, a master's will allow you to develop expertise in that area so you can enter a new field. This type of degree is offered in a wide range of fields, including mathematics, biology, psychology, business, social work, and many others.

How Long It Takes

It typically takes two years to obtain a master's of arts (MA) or science (MS) after getting your bachelor's. There is basically no difference between an MA and an MS other than the name; they have the same basic educational requirements. While you'll be in classes similar to those you went through to get your bachelor's, they are typically more like seminars in that they contain a great deal of discussion. In addition, you'll be expected to perform much more analysis than you've done previously.

The Workload

You can expect to do coursework full time. You'll have to take required courses at first, but then you'll be able to focus on your specific subject area later on. If you are studying a science, you will probably do a great deal of fieldwork and laboratory research. If you're in a professional program, you'll probably be required to complete an internship.

The Thesis

You will either have to complete an extended research paper or a thesis, depending on your field of study. The thesis could be a scientific experiment or a detailed analysis of a certain piece of literature. There are some programs that offer alternatives to the thesis, such as a comprehensive exam. It could be an oral test, a written one, or a combination. If you're studying in a field such as psychology or social work, you may need to perform an internship or practicum in which you learn the skills needed to perform therapy.

Choosing to pursue a master's degree is not something to take lightly. You'll need to be prepared to put in a great deal of work and may have to sacrifice some of the things you were able to enjoy while getting your bachelor's, such as time hanging out with friends and more. However, once you accomplish your goal, the benefits you enjoy could very well last a lifetime.

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