A master’s degree is the first level of graduate study. To apply for a master degree you usually must already hold an undergraduate degree (a bachelor’s degree).
The number of professionals with master’s degrees increased by 63 percent from 1996 to 2010. The National Council for Education Statistics projects added growth of another 34 percent by the year 2022.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Master’s Degree?
Here’s the short answer: a master’s degree program typically requires a year and one-half to two years of full-time study spanning 36 to 54 semester credits.
Is a Master’s Degree Worth It?
A master degree is good choice when you…
- Already hold a bachelor’s degree
- Know that your chosen career will require a master’s degree
- Need a graduate degree to qualify for a higher salary grade
Yes. Pursuing your master’s online is a best bet if you want to advance your career in a field where you already have previous professional experience and you hold an accredited bachelor’s degree. Certain organizations in fields like education, medicine, and engineering may even require their top level employees to have master’s degrees.
- Postsecondary educators
- Education administrators at all levels of education
- Social workers
- Counselors, such as marriage, family, rehabilitation, and mental health
- Nurse practitioners and physician assistants
- Nurse midwives
- Healthcare positions, including occupational therapists and speech pathologists
- Statisticians and mathematicians
- Historians, including archivists and curators
- Urban and regional planners
- Political scientists
Yes. If your potential salary will outpace the cost to get a degree and if the job prospects are promising, then the cost of a master’s degree is worth it.
- Business: financial, sales occupations, accountants, auditors, general and operations managers, and human resource professionals
- Education: administrators, preschool, and kindergarten teachers
- Healthcare and social service workers: physician assistants, nurse practitioners, midwives, and clinical lab technicians
- STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math): mathematicians, statisticians, computer system analysts, and computer programmers.
- Public relation specialists
- Fitness and recreation workers
No. If you career does not require that you have a master’s degree and the growth and earning potential is based on knowledge and experience not a degree credential, then a master’s may not be worth it.
How Much Does a Master’s Degree Cost?
Cost is often a make or break factor in choosing a master’s program. Before you put a halt to your education goals due to financial obstacles, exhaust all resource options, including employer tuition reimbursement, state grants, and institutional scholarships that pay partial tuition.
- Compare tuitions of post-graduate online degree programs at different schools.
- Allow for added costs when deciding between an online and on-campus program, including housing, transportation, and potential childcare expenses.
- Factor in potential financial aid opportunities, which may or may not be school or program-specific.
Consult GetEducated’s affordability rankings to view the cheapest master’s by major.
Master’s Degree Requirements
The final step is to consider the requirements of each master’s degree and narrow based on your personal needs and preferences.
- Can I commit to a full-time program or do I want to attend part-time?
- Can I commit to a year-round program or would I prefer breaks between semesters?
- Do I have the self-motivation to enroll in an accelerated degree program?
- Do I prefer to progress through a program with peers or would I prefer an individual self-paced course?
- Can I complete a hybrid program with required on-campus components or would a completely online program be a better fit?
- What internships or practicums are required?
Because graduate school involves more of an in-depth and theoretical look at its subjects, group discussion and debate are important. Today’s online discussion forums provide an inviting environment for students to engage their peers.
- Graduate Record Examination (GRE),
- Law School Admission Test (LSAT),
- Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT),
- Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).
Each one of these tests is on higher level subjects that assess the aptitude of the individuals taking them. It is also important to note that these tests have fees similar to the SAT or ACT.
Show Me an Online Master’s Program
Below is the sample curriculum (plan of required study) for a Master of Health Care Administration from Capella University. Different colleges will require different programs of study. If you decide to major in a special area, such as business or psychology, most of your courses will be in that subject. Compare degree and credit requirements at different schools carefully when selecting an online master’s degree to suit your situation.
Capella University Online Master of Healthcare Administration
Total credits required: 48 (using a quarter credits system)
Collaboration, Communication, and Case Analysis for Health Care Master’s Learners (4 hrs)
Health Care Policy and Law (4 hrs)
Health Care Finance and Reimbursement (4 hrs)
Health Care Economics and Decision Making (4 hrs)
Strategic Health Care Planning (4 hrs)
Organizational Leadership and Governance (4 hrs)
Project Management and Team Leadership (4 hrs)
Health Administration Capstone (4 hrs)
Specialization Courses (16 hrs)
Health Care Quality, Risk, and Regulatory Compliance (4 hrs)
Introduction to Health Information Systems (4 hrs)