What Is a Masters Degree – Frequently Asked Questions 

A lot of students think about whether they need to get a Master’s degree. Some of them want to get a Ph.D. and consider receiving a Master’s degree as one of the steps to the goal. Others think of getting it to start a certain career. And all of them want the Master’s degree to gain an extra qualification and receive professional training. 

Certainly, all the students who want to receive a Master’s degree have a lot of questions about it. In this article, we are going to cover them all. 

What is a Masters degree, and other frequently asked questions

  • So what is a Masters degree?

Do not think that this question is silly. A lot of different postgraduate programs are offered today, and not all of them are Master’s degree. Therefore, you need to know that Master’s programs are independent study courses that are proposed at the second-cycle stage, between the first cycle of undergraduate study and the third cycle of PhD study. 

  • What is the difference between M.A., MS, MRes, MPhil, and M.B.A.?

Master’s programs fall under a number of titles, but even though they have different names, they still have a similar program structure. However, it is significant that Master’s degree also has taught programs and research programs. 

Taught programs are referred to the majority of Master’s degrees. Under these programs, students take a number of lessons over two semesters, and then they have to do a research project or write a dissertation. MSc (Master of Science) and M.A. degree (Master of Arts) are the most popular taught programs. 

Research programs are, logically, focused on a student’s self-regulating research skills. The most popular programs here are MPhil (Master of Philosophy) and MRes (Master of Research). The MPhil is completely based on independent research, and it requires a student to do short projects. In the meantime, the MRes commonly starts with taught programs and then moves to independent research. Both of the programs allow the student to pursue Ph.D. after completion. 

Let us also discuss what M.B.A. (Master of Business Administration) is. This program is designed for those, who want to become professional in business. Usually, the students with specific career goals pursue this degree. 

  • How are postgraduate study and undergraduate study different?

Some students think that taught Master’s programs and undergraduate programs are very similar. In a certain sense, it is correct, because students need to select a course and take lessons from faculty members. In fact, this structure makes the transition from undergraduate study to Master’s programs smoother. But, of course, there is a substantial difference between them. Mostly, it is about the student’s ability to do independent research that does not only include preparing the dissertation but also involves the classes, for which students need to study more expansively. 

  • How can I apply for a Master’s degree?

Most likely, you need to apply directly though the university. But in some cases (for example, if you want to get a degree in law or education), applying through UCAS or other national application portals is better. 

Mind that universities can have a different set of criteria for applicants, but most of them require you to start the application process a year before the commencement of the Master’s program. The application process is likely to involve: 

  • Personal statement submission
  • References from former employers or tutors
  • CV and academic transcripts
  • Interview with the board

To make sure that you know all the criteria and deadlines set by a particular university, contact them and ask all questions you have. Of course, you can apply for Master’s programs in several universities. 

  • How long does it take to get a Masters degree? 

It depends on whether you want to study at a taught program or at a research program. To get an M.A. degree or MSc, usually you need to study for one or two years. The exact length of the program is determined basing on your course type and intensiveness of study. For the MRes, it also takes about one or two years to complete the degree, but for the MPhil, it is at least two years.

  • What qualifications are needed?

Usually, the basic requirement is having a Bachelor’s degree with a minimum level of 2.1. Even though the chances are limited in case you have a lower grade, you can still try to apply. If you show enthusiasm for getting a degree, it is likely that you will be accepted. 

  • How to get a Masters degree if I need funds?

Sometimes, Master’s programs are rather expensive, so some students need to be funded to study. But it is not a problem, because usually students are provided with loans for their postgraduate study. Besides, a number of private organizations and charitable bodies also offer funding for students. So seek and you shall find your funding!

  • How many credits is a Masters degree and how are they graded?

Usually, there are three levels of Master’s degree: “Pass” (over 50%), “Merit” (over 60%), and “Distinction” (over 70%). Some universities have slightly different grades, for example, 40% for “Pass” and 80% for “Distinction.” The overall grade is determined similarly as in undergraduate programs.

  • Is a Master’s degree worth it in terms of employment?

According to a research, people with a Master’s degree have more chances to find a job and get high wages, compared to those, who do not have this degree. However, getting a Master’s degree does not mean that you will be employed immediately after completion. You still need to demonstrate to your employer that you are a worthy candidate. 

  • Will I need a Masters to do a Ph.D.?

Even though it is not a requirement (as even students with a Bachelor’s degree can pursue Ph.D.), most people decide to receive a Master’s degree before getting to a Ph.D. level, because it allows developing a number of useful skills.