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The master's degree is designed to provide additional education or training in the student's specialized branch of knowledge, well beyond the level of baccalaureate study. Master's degrees are offered in many different fields, and there are two main types of programs: academic and professional.

Academic Master's: The Master of Arts (M.A.) and Master of Science (M.S.) degrees are usually awarded in the traditional arts, sciences, and humanities disciplines. The M.S. is also awarded in technical fields such as engineering and agriculture. Original research, research methodology, and field investigation are emphasized. These programs usually require the completion of between 30 and 60 credit hours and could reasonably be completed in one or two academic years of full-time study. They may lead directly to the doctoral level.

Professional Master's: These degree programs are designed to lead the student from the first degree to a particular profession. Such master's degrees are often designated by specific descriptive titles, such as master of business administration (M.B.A.), master of social work (M.S.W.), master of education (M.Ed.), or master of fine arts (M.F.A.). Other subjects ofprofessional master's programs include journalism, international relations, architecture, urban planning, public administration (M.P.A.), and public policy (M.P.P.).

Professional master's degrees are oriented more toward direct application of knowledge than toward original research. They are more structured than academic degree programs, and often require that every student take a similar or identical program of study that lasts from one to three years, depending on the institution and the field of study.

Professional degree programs usually require completion of between 36 and 48 units (one to two years of full-time study), and usually do not offer a thesis option. They do not always require that the bachelor's degree be in a specific field, but they may recommend a certain amount of prior study or coursework in the subject area.

Doctoral Degrees :  The doctoral degree is designed to train research scholars and, in many cases, future college and university faculty members. At the doctoral level, the Ph.D. (doctor of philosophy) is the most common degree awarded in academic disciplines. Other doctoral degrees are awarded primarily inprofessional fields, such as education (BEd.D. or doctor of education) and business administration (D.B.A. or doctor of business administration). Doctoral programs involve advanced coursework, seminars, and the writing of a dissertation that describes the student's own originalresearch, completed under the supervision of a faculty adviser.
 

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