The education sector loves acronyms, that’s for sure. When it comes to degree courses, this love of acronyms really shines through: MA, MSc, MEd, PGDip, MBA, MPhil and so on. OMG, right?
While it’s most common that students first get a Bachelor, then a Master, there are also integrated programmes that directly lead to a Master’s degree over then usually four years. Typical examples are the MSci or the MEng - more below. These programmes are often, but not always, equivalent to a Bachelor plus Master in the respective subject. (You sometimes also see the term “Undergraduate Master”.)
Such combined degrees also tend to have slightly higher admission requirements. Universities generally state that students can switch between a BSc and the respective MChem (for example) up until the second year; in practice, it is far easier to switch to a BSc than to the integrated Masters.
The Master of Arts is one of the most common degree denominations, the “bread and butter” of the academic world. You can pursue an MA degree in almost any subject – although it is more common in the Arts and Humanities, you will find it also in the Social Sciences and related fields.
Fun fact: at the Universities of Cambridge, Oxford and Dublin, an MA is actually an honorary qualification and may be awarded to all those who have completed a BA. For postgraduate programmes, these universities award other degrees, such as MPhil or MSt.
Not to be confused with the MA (Master of Arts) - the common degree for a wide range of different subject disciplines -, the MArt (Master in Arts) is a UK-specific four-year integrated undergraduate degree in Arts and related fields
The MArch is primarily a UK qualification accredited to prepare students for professional registration as architects in the country. It usually lasts two years full time at postgraduate level.
The MBA is another well-known type of degree. This postgraduate qualification is highly valued by employers and it is the go-to choice for those who want to climb the professional ladder and become managers. MBA programmes are often either tailored for students with no or little work experience, or to professionals with at least 3 to 5 years of experience - and in the second case the degree is then usually called Executive MBA.
The Master of Chemistry is another combined undergraduate and postgraduate degree course lasting four years.
The MDes is usually awarded in Design and related disciplines - in some cases for integrated four-year programmes, in others for one-year postgraduate programmes.
A master of education is one of the many degree options available to aspiring educators. While an MA may be more suited to those interested in policy or research, an MEd is more of a professionalising degree for those interested in education practice.
This degree is most commonly awarded in the UK, where it generally refers to a four-year undergraduate programme (= similar to a Bachelor’s). In other countries, this degree is generally rare, but then more likely to be attained by completing a Master’s level programme in an Engineering subject.
This is a postgraduate qualification offered in the fields of visual and performing arts, design and other creative professions. Compared to a MA, an MFA usually has more of a practical focus.
The Master of Laws is a postgraduate qualification, usually lasting one year, that allows students to focus on studying a specific area of law in more depth.
The lesser-known Master of Letters is usually found in Scotland, Ireland or at some older universities in England. It is a taught or research postgraduate degree that can be awarded in the arts and humanities.
A quite popular Business degree, Masters in Management - or MIM for short - are offered by a large number of business schools across Europe. Differences exist but the curriculum is often a mix of what you would expect from an MBA programme and an MSc in Business Administration.
This is a four-year undergraduate and postgraduate integrated degree in Maths.
The Master of Music is a specialised postgraduate qualification in the field of Music. It can be similar to an MA in Music, but an audition may be required for students to be admitted to an MMus.
The Master of Pharmacy is a four-year integrated degree in the field of pharmacy. In the United Kingdom, it is the qualification leading to professional registration as a pharmacist.
The MPhil can be taken as a standalone qualification or as part of a PhD. It is a research-based postgraduate degree of usually two years with no taught modules. In certain instances, a master’s degree is a requirement to be admitted to an MPhil.
The Master of Physics is a four-year integrated undergraduate and graduate degree in Physics.
This is the qualification for those interested in leadership positions in the public sector – often seen as an equivalent of the MBA, but for government, public service, and nonprofit organisations. It usually lasts one year and can have different areas of specialisation.
The Master of Public Health is a postgraduate degree specialising, you may have guessed it, in a range of disciplines around public health: for example, epidemiology, health policy etc. The difference between an MPH and an MSc in this case is that while a traditional Master of Science in public health will be more research-oriented, an MPH will include more practical training around applied public health and prepare graduates for a career in the field.
Quite common in the UK but not many other countries, a Master of Research is a research-based postgraduate degree. That means you complete it by doing research and research training, and not taught modules (or at least not only). It can be awarded in any subject where research can be conducted.
Alongside the MA, the Master of Science is probably the most common degree awarded at the postgrad level. An MSc degree is typically awarded in disciplines like Natural Sciences, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (or “STEM” for short), as well as related fields and subjects that to some extent rely on a scientific or mathematical foundation, like certain subjects in the area of Business; and it can also be awarded for other disciplines. The dissertation (thesis) will often be a piece of original research.
Not to be confused with the MSc (Master of Science), the MSci (Master in Science) is a UK-specific four-year integrated undergraduate degree in a scientific subject equivalent to a BSc plus MSc.
Awarded by a handful of universities, including Cambridge, Oxford and Dublin, the Master of Studies is a postgraduate master’s degree usually in an arts or humanities field. It is close to what other universities would call an MA.
The Master of Theology is a postgraduate degree in the field of Theology, which can be either general or specialised in fields such as Church Ethics or Biblical Studies.
A postgraduate diploma (PgDip) is postgraduate degree qualification which gives specialised training in a subject or professional field; typically offered by British universities. It isn’t quite equivalent to a Master’s degree as it is usually shorter and doesn’t require the completion of a thesis or dissertation to graduate.11138 Masters in Europe