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What is the advantage of a Master of Science degree in comparison to other graduate degrees?

When I finish my bachelor’s degree in Economics, I intend to enroll in the graduate then postgraduate studies. My end goal is to become a university professor. However, I have heard talk of Master of Science degree programs having longer masters degree years than others. With so many types of masters programs in our universities, I am confused on what selection is the best for me. I would appreciate any insight on the differences between Master of Science degrees and other types of graduate degrees.

Deborah Edwards

in Higher Education

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Tara Andrews on June 7, 2018

There is no significant difference in masters degrees years. Whether the degree is in the sciences or arts, you will typically take two years to complete. When you hear of 1-year programs, it just means that you need to be enrolled full-time for that period then take another year (or at least eight months to do your research).

Another similarity is that for all graduate courses, a bachelor’s degree is a prerequisite. Since it is a specialized program for gaining particular practical expertise, you at least require basic knowledge. You acquire this knowledge by pursuing undergraduate studies.  

The most significant difference between a Masters’ of Science degrees and other categories of graduate degrees is the method of teaching. These degrees teach based on science. They may be referred to using various abbreviations for example M.S., MSc., MS, M.Sci., M.Sc., Sc.M., or M.Si. All of these titles refer to one thing.

Some good examples of these degrees include MSc. in economics, finance, accounting, actuarial science, management, information science, engineering, environmental studies, medicine, nursing, space studies among others. I'm sure there are more examples that I have not mentioned. More specialist courses are being introduced in universities every year.

However, a Master of Arts degree covers areas in the humanities. These include some of the following: geography, history, theology, social & political sciences, education, philosophy, human resources, fine arts and so forth.

Another difference between the two is that students who graduate with an MA stop at that which is to mean that an MA is a terminal degree. On the contrary, M.Sc.’s pave the way to doctorate degrees. They help a student to progress to postgraduate study.

Additionally, not all MA degrees require research. Some are purely course-based. The reason is that most humanities such a history as pure theory. MSc. Degrees require some mandatory form of research.

Remember that the same course may be an MA in one university and an MSc. in another. This difference is based on the policy of the faculty offering the program. Therefore, be more concerned with the specific faculty reputation more than the ranking or name of the university when it comes to graduate programs. There are cases where the same faculty offers the same course in a Master of Arts and Masters of Science degree. In this case, the MA focuses on a subfield while the MSc covers the whole field of study. 

Craig Stewart2 years ago

If you want to pursue postgraduate studies, i.e., a doctorate, I would advise you to take an MSc after your bachelors. Additionally, if you intend to continue specializing in economics, an MSc is your best bet.

When it comes to job prospects, the most critical difference between an MSc and an MA is what a student does after they graduate. A common misconception among those who wish to pursue Masters Programs is that an MSc makes one less employable. This perception is false.

Employers expect you to have a Masters in your specific field of study. Earning an MSc or an MA in the areas that provide both means that you can decide to pursue two options, i.e., an academic career for an MSc or a professional career for an MA degree. However, this doesn’t mean that you’ll be stuck with these two options for the rest of your career. 


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