Whether you’re trying to qualify yourself for a certain career path, still have the desire after already graduating to learn or simply out of interest, Masters Degrees may be the token to get you to where you want to be. With so many varying options and variants among variants, from one year of study to more than three it can be mind boggling. This article hopes to clear up some of that confusion.
Beginning with the type most similar to what graduates will be used to, the MA and the MSC. Similar to undergraduates’ degrees, they are more or less an extension on your academic profile. The degrees typically have a large taught focus with your own research project similar to a dissertation making up as much as half of the qualification in some cases. Not all universities will refer to these degrees as MA and MSC either, as it can often be dependent on the course content or university naming protocol.
Perhaps you don’t have the time, money or need for such an undertaking, in which case a Post Graduate Certificate (PGcert) or a Post Graduate Diploma (PGdip) might be more suited to your needs. A PGcert or dip usually costs less than a full Masters Degree. Neither are recognised as an equivalent to a masters as both courses are solely taught with no research project included. A PGcert course will have less and possibly more specific modules than a PGdip. Both options can be completed in both full time and part time courses.
Thinking about a career in research? Does learning for yourself inspire you or are you just looking to step up to that PHD? An MRes might be what you’re looking for. A Masters of Research is specifically taught around the discipline of research. The MRes is similar to an MSc, so much so that many universities will refer to it as an MSc with the main difference being varied teaching to research ratio; MRes Degrees place much more emphasis on a larger research proportion of the course.
You might have already graduated in Law, however a Legum Magister (LLM) or Master of Laws in modern English is often a desirable qualification for those looking at practising law, especially in other countries across Europe where it is an essential prerequisite. The LLM does not automatically qualify the graduate to practise law. LLMs often offer students a choice of modules for specialisation.
Mphil degrees often serve as a precursor to a PHD. The Masters of Philosophy is regarded as the next best thing to a PHD and in some cases can completed as part of a PHD in universities that allow a conversion or upgrade (often after its completion). This presents many benefits to both the university dropout rate and those students enrolled on a Mphil run into monetary issues at the end or simply lose interest. Employers will usually regard an Mphil as an equivalent to Masters Degree.
An MBA is one of the more recognised masters of the lay and has received much more notoriety in recent years. Whilst costly and requiring several years of professional practise prior to study, the intensive course consistently produces some of the most rounded and successful business leaders of today.
Want to call yourself Dr but need to stay in work? An alternative and often equivalent Professional Doctorate will require the individual carry out their own research in their professional field whilst still working, focusing on a particular professional field, however courses such as engineering may involve full time study and more emphasis on taught areas.
Finally, the big cheese of qualifications; once made as a licence to teaching at University, the Doctorate of Philosophy is as good as it gets in the academic world. A PHD usually entails masses of independent research and very little in the way of taught areas, if at all. As a stand-alone the PHD will typically take 3 years, however many courses will require an extra year’s masters or other research supplement prior. The coolest part being you are officially regarded as a Doctor of Philosophy, has a certain ring to it doesn’t it?