Choosing between M.A. and M.S. Degree

by | Nov 5, 2020 | Education Feature

Applying for postgraduate studies is a huge decision. After graduating from college, most people are looking forward to their job hunting. While some are preoccupied with preparations for job applications, others are also busy pondering on taking further studies related to their bachelor’s degree.

A graduate degree program following a bachelor’s degree is a master’s degree. In choosing the right degree program to pursue, you should be able to explore numerous possibilities as a lot of available programs can be related to the degree graduated as well as the career you are in.

There are two kinds of master’s degrees. These are Master of Arts (M.A.) and Master of Science (M.S.) programs. To be able to move on to your master’s degree options, it is essential to know the difference between these two. Why? To appropriately apply your degree to a higher level of learning, you should have adequate information on these two. It might be enough to make you decide on a Master of Arts vs Master of Science program.

Master of Arts

A Master of Arts degree is leaning towards learning culture and arts. Like a Bachelor of Arts degree, the areas of focus are Literature, Linguistics, Communication, Languages, Philosophy, Fine Arts, and other disciplines in the Liberal arts and humanities.

In an M.A. degree, the learning approach is generally seminar type. This practice has always been the difference between M.A. and M.S. M.A. degree programs often have their class set-up as in-depth discussions relevant to the subject matter. This experience is like attending a college class with professional people as your classmates. And everyone is talking smartly of insights to theories and concepts relevant to the coursework.

Most of the majors of MA degree programs can be completed within two years when studying full-time. But when you are a part-time graduate student, the duration may be more than two years but will not likely reach four years.

When you hear about graduate studies, the most feared part of the master’s journey is the rigorous process of writing theses like dissertation papers and short research projects. While this is a usual requirement for graduate degree programs, research or thesis work is often not a requisite in majors of M.A. degree programs. This is why M.A. degrees can be completed in a shorter period than M.S. degrees. Rather than doing an extensive study, skill demonstration such as artworks and going to fieldwork with short written reports are included as final requirements.

Master of Science

Similar to Master of Arts, Master of Science is a higher level of learning with a focus on scientific skills and substantial research works. In an M.S. degree, subject types include Mathematics, Economics, Engineering, Health and Physical Sciences, and other disciplines that are most likely to be continued to a doctoral degree.

An M.S. degree is a program with a duration of two years. But for the written research requirements, it could take longer than the usual two years. Also, most students enrolling in these M.S. programs are commonly professionals who are practicing their degree of specialization from undergrad years. Hence, MS degrees are most commonly completed in 3-4 years due to brief time allocation by these professionals. Most of the time, they could only enroll in subjects that are convenient in their work schedule.

M.S. students are more exposed to laboratory work and scientific analysis. Individuals who possess proficiency in mathematics and logic are more likely to enroll in these programs. Why so? The coursework of an M.S. degree program includes subject matters that involve quantitative and qualitative analysis.

Since this is a higher form of learning, the things you have learned from college is at another level of difficulty. By this time, subjects have more emphasis on the current trends of related subjects. For example, a medical laboratory science graduate is taking a Master of Science in Public Health. The curriculum in this program entails subjects of epidemiology, current health policies, and International Health Regulations.

While an M.A. degree does not require a thesis, an M.S. degree requires you to complete a comprehensive research study that you will eventually need to defend in an assigned panel. This research study has an experimental phase and is not solely based on theories. That is why M.S. degrees require more effort and hard work to earn the prescribed units.

Which should I choose: M.A. or M.S.?

In choosing your next degree, you should be well-informed of the degree program offerings from your university choices. Have a good knowledge of the curriculum so that you will be able to visualize yourself capable of finishing the program.

When you select the degree program, whether M.A. or M.S., consider your expertise and interests. Students in the master’s program have a higher success rate in studies when the focus of the study is inclined to your profession and passion. More real-life experiences in the subject matter will provide you a better understanding of the coursework of the program you are about to choose.

What will weigh most in choosing between M.A. or M.S. is the relevance it will bring to your current career. Because a master’s degree is an advantage to your work as well as personal development, you have to be fully-determined in completing your graduate studies. Also, you have to carry out thorough research on the possibilities of having a master’s degree. Check whether the program you are about to take will open up more opportunities that will eventually make your career and life better.

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