You’ve completed your Bachelor’s degree and you have reached the moment when you have to decide what is the next level? There are over tens of thousands of Master's degree courses in the world that you can choose from and many of them are taught in English.
According to OECD statistics, yearly, more than 500,000 international students graduate from a Master’s programme. Intensive study, team projects and independent research are usually common focus points of Master's degree courses.
There are several and different types of Master's degrees out there but what does each one stand for and how can you tell which would be the perfect fit for you? Find clear answers about the types of postgraduate degrees you can earn after you finish your undergraduate studies.
Mainly, you can choose from Master of Arts, Master of Science, MBAs, Master of Research, Master of Philosophy, Master of Laws, Master of Engineering and postgraduate or graduate certificates.
Most widespread types of Master's degrees
1. M.A. degrees
Master of Arts (M.A.) degrees are some of the most easy-to-find degrees provided by universities worldwide. M.A.s are generally focused on disciplines like History, Languages, Communication, Humanities, Social Sciences.
You will find both academic and research-oriented Masters of Arts that usually last for two years.
2. M.Sc. degrees
Master of Science (M.Sc.) degrees cover the more technical side of Master’s studies. As the name suggests, M.Sc. programmes focus on scientific learning and research.
Certain fields, such as Economy, have both M.A. and M.Sc. degree courses. Sometimes, you may also find programmes from humanities or social sciences as MSc degrees, since the universities’ conventions sometimes differ. The difference is made by the style of teaching.
In the M.A. programme, you will have lectures and seminars and a final exam or a dissertation or an independent research project. However, the M.Sc. will have a stronger research component and some employers may consider these valuable skills.
Degrees leading to successful business careers
3. MBA degrees
Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees are a type of degree as prestigious as the two from the section above. This popular type of academic degree targets both Bachelor’s graduates with extensive work experience or working professionals who want to take their career to the next level.
You can either earn an MBA degree at a university or in a business school. MBAs mostly target professionals of 27–32 years and work experience is mandatory, in most cases.
4. EMBA degrees
Executive MBA degrees are especially designed for managers, entrepreneurs and various types of business leaders who seek to increase their options and skills.
5. MiM degrees
Master in Management (MiM) degrees are a fresh but promising study option which generally attracts ambitious students under 23 years old. Found mostly in European universities and colleges, the MIM is also available in Asia, Australia and Canada.
Officially known as a Master of Science, the MIM is concentrated around theory and research, except for the fact that it usually requires few years of work experience or none, compared to an MBA degree, where eligible candidates should have at least 3 years of professional experience.
Research-oriented Master's degrees
6. M.Res. degrees
Master of Research (M.Res.) degrees are strongly focused on scientific research, projects and applied studies. This is often preferred by students who prepare for a research career or a PhD degree after graduation. While research is present in other Master's degree courses as well, the M. Res. is basically about practice and applied classes.
7. M.Phil. degrees
Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.) degrees are a good option if you are looking for a research-exclusive degree. This is seen as a bridge to the PhD and its duration is between one and two years.
M. Phil. programmes are a way for universities to have better control over PhD drop-outs and for students to enjoy a preparation year until the next degree. Some students decide to abandon their PhD studies, due to their duration or difficulty, so the M.Phils. is a light continuation of the Master-level programmes.
Find more details about the difference between an M.Res. and an M.Phil.
Highly specialised Master's degrees
Both in the USA and worldwide, you can find degree programmes designed to add a deeper specialisation to regular Master studies. For example, if you were looking for a more specialised Master of Science in Nursing, you could enrol for a Master of Science in Advanced Nursing Practice.
Another example would be an M.Sc. in Bioinformatics for Health Sciences. These programmes are built around professional education and they are called “tagged degrees”. This category also includes specialised MBAs, Masters of Public Administration, the Master of Social Work, the Master of Education, and other specialised Master titles.
8. LLM degrees
Master of Laws (LLM) degrees usually last for one year and many students decide to pursue them right after the Bachelor of Laws. However, a Bachelor of Laws is not a mandatory entry requirement. Some of the most popular degrees of this kind are Master of European law, tax law, environmental law, criminal law, international law, or human rights law.
9. M.Eng. degrees
The Master of Engineering (MEng) degree is a professional training programme and in some countries, like the UK, it is a requirement for becoming a chartered engineer. Unlike most Master courses, the MEng is an integrated Master’s degree that begins at undergraduate level.
The Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) is strongly focused on creativity and performances. You will study for two–three years and the result can even be considered a terminal degree.
When you’ve decided what kind of track you prefer for your future career, also keep in mind that entry requirements vary for most of these categories. Usually, along with the strong specialization also come in-depth admission expectations.
Graduate diplomas and certificates
10. Postgraduate diplomas
The Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip/PgDip/PG Dip./PGD/PgD/PDE) is awarded, in some countries, after gaining a Bachelor’s degree. The degree stands as the first year of a two-year Master level study. You may enrol in a PGDip. if you have a Bachelor’s degree or, in some rare cases, even an advanced diploma.
11. Graduate certificates
The Graduate Certificate (GradCert/GCert/GradC) represents a specialised training programme that has the duration of a year, a term or a semester. This certificate only reflects “first-cycle” learning skills and, after you finish your chosen programme, you will have skills of Bachelor’s level. You will find the GradCert. most commonly in fields of study such as psychology, counselling, management or law.
The main difference between a PGDip. and GradCert.is that you don't need higher education qualifications in order to earn a graduate certificate.
Find out more details about the benefits of postgraduate diplomas and graduate certificates.
Ready to apply for a Master's abroad?
A Master's degree is ideal both for students who've just finished their undergraduate studies, and for people with work experience looking to change their careers or take on a management position.
While the list of Master's types appears long and a bit complicated, things clear up easily once you look into the focus of each degree type. The most important piece of advice we can offer is not to focus so much on the name and type of the academic programme, but rather on its curriculum, objectives, and the amount of practical classes and opportunities.
This will help you determine if a Master's programme aligns with your career goals and you'll end up making a great decision. Good luck!