Studying a Master’s abroad means you have to choose from a long list of various degree types. One of the most popular programmes is the Master of Science (M.Sc.). But what is a Master of Science, how is it different from other degree types, and why should you study one?
In this article, we’ll answer these questions and others to help you decide if a Master of Science is the right study option for you.
What is a Master of Science (M.Sc.)?
A Master of Science is a taught postgraduate degree offered by most universities worldwide. Some of the most common abbreviations are M.Sc., M.S., Sc.M., S.M., and others.
Masters of Science focus on disciplines like Sciences, Engineering, Technology, Mathematics, Medicine, and some Social Sciences, such as Finance, Psychology, Sociology, and others. To earn an M.Sc. degree, you normally have to write a scientific thesis, but this depends on the type of study programme.
You should not confuse the Master of Science (M.Sc.) with the Master in Science (MSci). The MSci is an undergraduate course, which usually takes 4 years to complete and allows students to graduate with a Master’s level degree. The Master in Science is less common than the M.Sc. and is usually associated with professional subjects.
Here are some of the most popular subjects for an M.Sc. degree:
- IT Security
- General Engineering & Technology
- Natural Sciences
- Sustainable Development
- Health Sciences
An M.Sc. will normally take 1-2 years to graduate
The length of a full-time Master of Science varies a lot depending on each country and the discipline you choose. In most European states, M.Sc. programmes take 2 years to complete. The UK and the US are the main countries where you can graduate with some M. Sc. degrees in 1 year.
The length of your Master’s programme can increase significantly if you choose disciplines like:
- M.Sc. in Medicine – up to 6 years
- M.Sc. in Engineering – up to 5 years
- M.Sc. in Computer Science – up to 4 years
You should also know that most universities don’t require a Bachelor of Science to apply for an M.Sc., but you must have a Bachelor’s degree in a related subject.
Master of Science vs Master of Arts (M.A.)
If you’re looking for a Master’s to study abroad, you’ve probably already noticed that most degrees offered by universities are Masters of Science or Masters of Arts. The main difference between an M.A. and M.Sc. is the type of disciplines on which they focus.
While Masters of Science deal with fields involving Science and Math, you’ll normally find Masters of Arts in fields that involve creativity, debating, and analysis, including subjects like Creative Writing, Languages, Philosophy & Ethics, Design, Music, etc.
Another difference is in the teaching methodology. While there are exceptions, Master of Arts students normally learn through research, class discussion, and writing essays. Master of Science students learn through analysis, lab work, and scientific research. Both types of Master’s degrees involve practice, but the amount will depend on your chosen programme and university.
Don’t let titles fool you, though. You can find the same disciplines offered as either a Master of Arts or a Master of Science. Some examples include Economics, Finance, Marketing, and Political Science.
The difference in titles can sometimes reflect a difference in the approach and focus of each programme, but this isn’t a rule. Each university is free to choose between an M.A. and M.Sc. for their programmes’ titles. Why? Because they’re weird!
There are other types of Master’s degrees you can explore if you want to see what’s the difference between them and an M.Sc.
Master of Science vs Master of Research (M.Res.)
The main difference is that an M.Sc. is a postgraduate taught programme, while a Master of Research is, obviously, a postgraduate research programme.
Postgraduate taught programmes have a similar structure to undergraduate courses. They involve seminars, lectures, and students can choose mandatory and optional modules. Taught programmes also involve research while writing the dissertation at the end of your studies.
Masters of Science are perfect for students interested in acquiring advanced knowledge in a certain field while benefiting from a structured educational approach and continuous guidance.
Postgraduate Research programmes are more independent, and they involve few if any seminars or lectures. Students’ main focus is conducting their own research with the help of a supervisor. This allows them to access research facilities and training equipment while developing their independent investigation skills.
An M.Res. is ideal for students who are interested in expanding their academic skills and looking for jobs that involve advanced research abilities.
Master of Science vs Master of Engineering (M.Eng.)
In terms of qualification and recognition, the Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) is equivalent to the Master of Science or Master of Arts.
The M.Eng. is often awarded at Universities of Applied Sciences (UAS) for study programmes that are more practice-oriented. Unlike M.Sc. degrees, which usually take 2 years or more to complete, students can finish an M.Eng. programme in 1 or 2 years.
While M.Sc. courses offer a wide range of subjects to choose from (Engineering, IT, Medicine, etc.), Masters of Engineering focus on General Engineering and various other subdisciplines, like:
- Automotive Engineering
- Chemical Engineering
- Electrical Engineering
- Environmental Engineering
- Mechanical Engineering
You can study an M.Sc. in countries offering the best education
Due to its popularity, most countries around the world offer M.Sc. degree programmes. Not all countries are made equal, though, and some offer better educational quality and resources than others.
Below you’ll find a list with top study destinations offering Masters of Science. Tuition fees for universities in these countries range from 4,000 to over 35,000 EUR/academic year.
Top universities offer affordable or even free M.Sc. degrees
You know the saying ‘you get what you pay for’? This doesn’t apply to higher education institutions, which offer low tuition fees or even free Master of Science programmes for international students.
That’s right! Your budget will only need to cover living costs, course materials, and other expenses, like travelling. You can even apply for a scholarship to reduce your costs even further.
Here are some universities offering free or low-tuition M.Sc. programmes:
- Johannes Kepler University Linz, in Austria
- University of Vaasa, in Finland
- University of New South Wales, in Australia
- Tor Vergata University of Rome, in Italy
- The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, in Hong Kong
We also recommend checking out these universities that offer M.Sc. degrees (tuition fees vary):
- Columbia University, the US
- Thompson Rivers University, Canada
- University of Leeds, the UK
- Institut Polytechnique de Paris, France
- SRH Berlin University of Applied Sciences, Germany
- University of Newcastle, Australia
Lucrative careers for M.Sc. graduates
Getting an M.Sc. degree involves a lot of effort and many hours of study and lab work, but it will pay off in the end. M.Sc. graduates enjoy lucrative careers in various fields. We’ll list some of the most popular ones with their average salary in the United States.
- Software Engineer – 91,000 USD/year
- Electrical Engineer – 78,000 USD/year
- Research Scientist – 68,000 USD/year
- Geologist – 62,000 USD/year
- Financial Analyst – 61,000 USD/year
- Mental Health Therapist – 42,000 USD/year
Is a Master of Science right for me?
While there’s no magical formula to find out if an M.Sc. degree is a good choice for you, the following are good indicators that you should consider it:
- You’re passionate about technology and understanding how it works
- You have an analytical mind, like researching problems and looking for solutions
- You’re not afraid of numbers and you enjoy doing calculations
- You see problems as an opportunity to come up with better alternatives
- Lab work or on-field research sounds more exciting than reading a novel
- 1 = 0.999999999... – This makes sense to you or at least you’re curious about what it means
All jokes aside, you can also take our personality test. There are only a few questions and at the end you’ll receive some recommendations regarding your studies.
Before you choose a Master of Science programme or any type of Master’s degree, you should always check the curriculum of the programme. Each university chooses its own priorities and focus, and that’s why you’ll find programmes with the same title, but different courses and activities.
Best of luck and have a great learning experience!