Master’s degree - American EducationA graduate degree normally requiring one year of study beyond the work for a bachelor’s degree in a particular subject (for example, American history or English literature) or field (such as modern languages or education). Although a bachelor’s degree is usually required for admission into a master’s degree program, some universities permit simultaneous study (and award) of bachelor’s and master’s degrees by exceptionally gifted students. Master’s degrees are most commonly awarded in the arts (M.A.), sciences (M.S.), education (M.Ed.) and business (M.B.A.). Requirements for completion of a master’s degree vary widely according to the subject or field of studies and the particular institution. Some institutions require M.A. candidates to write a thesis, others do not. Some require candidates to demonstrate broad knowledge of their subject or field in a comprehensive examination; others simply require exams in individual courses.
Well over 400,000 master’s degrees are awarded in the United States each year, compared to about 1.2 million bachelor’s degrees and 45,000 doctoral degrees. Almost half are earned in two areas: education (M.Ed.) and business administration (M.B.A.), with 26% of all master’s degrees earned in education and 23% in business administration. Most faculty salary schedules mandate pay increases for teachers with master’s degrees, and M.B.A.s (master of business administration) generally command considerably higher starting salaries in the business world than employees with only bachelor’s degrees.