Types of Professional Masters Degrees


Professional masters degrees are often more specialized as they focus on career development in a particular profession. If you would like to advance in your career or better still gain more knowledge applicable to the real-world setting, then a professional masters degree suits that purpose.

Usually, the degree awarded at the end of a professional master’s degree is terminal. What this means is that it is applicable in the real world, but not relevant in the academic world and as such, you cannot further.

A professional master’s degree is awarded after 1-2 years fulltime studies depending on the institution and also, entry requirements vary across universities and schools of business where professional master degree courses are taken. While some might require an amount of work experience especially courses that have to do with management positions,  some do not require any work experience.

Types of Professional Masters Degrees

There are professional masters degree programs in a number of fields which include but are not limited to the following:

Master of Business Administration (MBA)

A masters of business administration is a degree obtained either at a university or a business school. Such degree provides theoretical and practical training to help graduates gain a better understanding of general business management functions with a general or specific focus in fields such as accounting, finance, marketing, and business law.

Most universities and colleges provide MBA programs with a duration of 2years and applicants are usually required to take an admission test and can be accepted by the program based on its selection criteria.

Master of Public Health (MPH)

The master of public health is a professional master’s degree that enables one to gain advanced skills as regards to the public health field. The duration for this degree type is two years and a bachelor’s degree from science and sometimes social sciences is required prior to commencement of the master’s degree program.

The curriculum generally includes a focus on epidemiology, public health administration policy, biostatistics, and environmental health such that graduates with a master of public health degrees can apply their skills in organizing health sensitization programs for communities, conducting public health studies, data analysis and interpretation.

Master of Social Work (MSW)

The master of social work is a degree in the field of social work.  Students are taught and are expected to implement skills that improve the quality of life for both individuals and the whole community at large.

Background knowledge of sciences or sociology or a BSc degree in social work is required and the duration for this program is usually two years. Medical doctors and public health practitioners also can take this course for further knowledge on improving life in communities.

Master of Public Administration (MPA)

The master of public administration program is a professional degree that is similar to a master of business administration but it is designed more for the public sector.

This degree involves a focus on policy analysis and management thereby preparing individuals to be able to work as managers, executives and policy analysts in the various positions within the government, in non-governmental organizations and non-profit sectors.

Master of International Affairs (MIA)

A master’s degree in international affairs is designed for students who desire a knowledge of international affairs ranging from international law, politics, international economics, business to trade. Students who take part in this program have a broad and better knowledge of issues in the international arena thereby they are able to profer solutions to existing problems.

A prior undergraduate degree in international relations or art-related courses is a requirement for application into such a program. Graduates with a master’s degree in international affairs go on to explore careers in conflict resolution, development, and diplomacy.

Master of Urban Planning (MUP)

The master of urban planning (MUP)  equips students with deep intellectual grounding and advanced skills and techniques such that they are able to give good designs for pieces of land that are to be used in an urban, industrial or regional capacity. The duration for such course spans from 2-5 years depending on the institution and also depending on if it would be taken full-time or part-time

Master of Education (M.Ed. or Ed.M.)

A master of education degree is awarded in various universities around the world. It is designed for people who want to advance further in the education sector. The areas of focus for this degree type include curriculum planning and instruction, counseling, educational psychology, educational leadership, and administration.

People with this degree are able to involve themselves in the day to day running process within an educational institution, some also go on to work alongside ministries of education at various positions so as to improve the educational standard of the cities and communities where they belong. To get accepted into a master’s in education it is required that one has a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university. The duration of a master’s degree in education is 2-3years.

Master of Engineering (M.Eng.)

The master of engineering program is of two types, it includes the academic master’s degree or the professional master’s degree in engineering. For the purpose of this article, the emphasis would be laid on the professional master’s degree program in engineering.

The professional master’s degree in engineering is designed for engineers and technical professionals in the development of their careers and to provide the expertise needed within their businesses and in the industrial environments. It is usually a part-time or fulltime program depending on the institution and a requirement for admission into this program includes a BSc in any related engineering course.

Master of Architecture ( M.Arch.)

The master of architecture is a professional degree in architecture, that enables the graduate to move through different stages of accreditation that results in receiving a license. Depending on the school, there are different routes to obtaining a master’s degree in architecture.

Some schools offer it in a combined form of( 4+2 ) years which involves taking undergraduate courses for the first 4 years and an immediate transition into the postgraduate program which leads to the award of a master’s degree in architecture( M.Arch.).

Another route involves applying directly to graduate school for a master’s degree in architecture the duration is usually between 3-3.5 years depending on the university. An advantage of the former route is that it accommodates people with science-related backgrounds to become professionals in the field of architecture hence the need for a longer duration of the study.

Master of Medicine (MMed)

Master of medicine is a postgraduate degree awarded by medical schools to physicians following a period of instruction and examination. It is useful for medical doctors who want to further specialize in a particular field in medicine. The degree is awarded by both surgical and other sub-specialties in medicine and it usually includes a dissertation component which also involves original research.

Master of Nursing (MN)

The master of Nursing is a program that is designed to ensure that graduates are well prepared to assume advanced practice roles. Graduates of this program usually demonstrate in-depth knowledge in advanced nursing practice, participate in activities that influence health and healthcare policy, they also understand the interaction of the nursing profession with social, political, economic, and historical forces.

Master of Law (M.L. or LL.M.)

A master of law is a degree pursued by those holding an undergraduate degree in law or any other related field. Most programs require students to write a thesis and some might be research-oriented. This degree is suitable for people who want to gain more expertise in a particular area of law. Pursuing a masters degree in law may also allow law students to build a professional network within each other

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

The master of fine arts is a degree suitable for work in Art, Design and other creative professions. It is more of a practice-based profession and its duration is between 1-2 years. Requirements for this degree would be to have appropriate undergraduate qualification and demonstration of sufficient practical skills. Some of the fields which award a master of fine arts include creative writing, art, and design,  drama, fashion, photography, textiles film production, or digital design.

Master of Economics (M.Econ. M.Ec)

The master’s degree in economics may be either academic or professional. The duration of this program includes 1-2 years and graduates of this degree are equipped with a better understanding of certain principles that are required in the financial world. Entry requirements into this program usually include a bachelor’s degree in economics or any related filed.

Masters in Strategy and Innovation

The M.Sc in strategy and innovation is ideal for people interested in developing the skills needed to identify and solve operational problems that various organizations face. It is usually a one-year course (fulltime) which helps students develop a blend of individual competencies necessary to be successful managers, including teamwork, communication, and leadership skills. One would also learn how firms can design strategies and innovate to deliver value for customers.

It is suited for recent graduates interested in developing a graduate management career and experienced managers and entrepreneurs interested in developing the skills and capabilities necessary to develop and implement strategic initiatives.

Master in Project Management (M.P.M )

The masters in project management is a professional degree which offers opportunities in consultancy, evaluation of investment projects, business analysis, business development, and general education revolving around business organization. At the end of such programs, the graduates are equipped with skills and ability to lead and manage businesses effectively. Duration is for 1 or 2 years and one might be required to write a thesis at the end of the program.

Finally, Although professional masters degree programs are terminal in nature , it is important that one has a proper understanding as to how the selected degree suits their need in the professional world such that they are placed in at a career advantage when compared to other colleagues in their field.


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