Master's Degree: Is it Right for You?

By: Mike King

A master's degree is a rigorous post graduate degree program that is designed to give students the opportunity to conduct original research on a particular subject matter, form a thesis, and objectively argue for its findings.

Master's Degree: Is it Right for You?

Traditionally, a master’s degree was pursued to exhibit competence or mastery in a subject area beyond the bachelor’s degree. Programs are approved when they are supervised by a PhD level supervisor. This PhD mentor will have an approved staff that monitors candidates in the program and helps them choose an appropriate thesis. In addition, monitors supervise the master’s candidate and helps him choose a committee who in turn must approve the thesis.

Among these mentors or tutors are chosen professor assistants who teach undergraduates and grade papers. This releases the PhD supervisor from the classroom so that he/she may publish and do research, and participate in networking and administrative tasks such as the budget. The latter chores are usually handled by the department chair, who is responsible for the master’s program.

The master’s program will usually take at least two years to complete. It will consist of classroom and seminar experiences, teaching the subject matter to undergraduates, and the research paper or master’s thesis. Some programs have eliminated the thesis requirement and require a project and satisfactory scores on a written exam. In all masters programs a grade under a “B” is not considered up to masters level standards. Students who fail to maintain standards face sanctions, including dismissal from the program.

The highest of standards is required for completion of the thesis. Great weight is given to originality, content and form. When the candidate is finished writing the thesis he tells his supervisor. The committee will get together with the candidate and discusses the outcome of his research. They are looking for strict objectivity, depth and relevance of the thesis and what it proved or disproved.

The whole process can be difficult and some candidates never finish. Others use the masters degree as a stepping stone to the PhD program. Candidates may pursue both the masters and PhD simultaneously. Most masters programs are about two years, the PhD from three to five. Some students have their goals clearly set and will go right on through to completion of the PhD program.

Paperwork and tests are required. School transcripts, letters of recommendation, and proof of participation in community activities may be necessary. Along with test scores and transcripts, an essay is usually a requirement.

A good online master’s program will graduate students who have displayed competence in writing, research, teaching, and administration. They display high levels of motivation and apply rigorous standards of excellence to their work and to those whom they supervise. The degree is valued by business, government, non-profit sectors, and education. Those who earn the degree are paid more and looked up to by their peers and the community.

By Mike King, a writer at