The concept of a Master’s degree has its roots in the University of Michigan in as early as the 1850s. During this time, it was being initialized as an alternative study path. However, it soon paved the way for criticism. Skeptics often found fault in the Master’s program as being almost like an alternative to a legitimate doctoral program. Therefore, it was seen as reconciliation for all those who could not complete a doctorate or for those who lacked other more ‘genuine’ qualifications. However, this was more of a misconception, if today’s demand for a Master’s degree is anything to go by.
The rising popularity of the Master’s degree
Today, statistics and facts support the immense demand for Master’s degrees in various fields of study ranging from management, finance, information technology and even healthcare, which has recently emerged as a very popular segment. Another interesting reason in the growing demand for a Master’s degree is the growth of ‘specialization’. More and more organizations are realizing that success clearly rests on specialization. A recent trend seen is the rise in the number of women pursuing a Master’s degree. Master’s degrees typically have varying durations and schedules depending on the type of degree – ranging from 24 semester credit hours to 60 semester credit hours. Recently there have been some innovative changes to the standard curriculum as was being followed earlier. Now more emphasis is being placed on balancing practical real world situations with theory. This is the primary reason for the rise in ‘practitioners’ who offer real world scenarios to implement acquired skills during the course.
Eligibility: entry criteria
To be able to qualify for a Master’s program, one needs to have a Bachelor’s degree coupled with at least 2 years of intensive study on a specialized subject of choice. This is also known as an advanced graduate study and is most often a prerequisite for gaining entry into a Master’s program. Apart from the formal eligibility criteria, one must also possess certain characteristics or skills such as strong analytical skills, evaluation skills etc. One must also be able to innovatively apply new concepts learned, to real world, unfamiliar situations. Very often, many reputed institutes these days require candidates to have prior experience in a profession that is relevant to the field of study. This again, is in agreement with the concept of having theoretical knowledge be in sync with real world scenarios.
The Master’s program
The duration of a Master’s program may vary depending on the kind of degree one has opted for. However, certain basic elements remain the same across Master’s programs, irrespective of the field of study. Some of these elements include coursework, research master’s degree program and professional master’s degree program. These usually culminate in a thesis, a scholarly paper, project or even an intensive and rigorous examination that tests everything that one has learnt in the program.
Assess yourself before joining
Before you opt for a Master’s program make sure to assess your personal and professional goals, your level of interest in the particular subject chosen as well as a mental preparation of the hurdles along the way. If these aspects are not evaluated beforehand, it can mean abandoning the course midway, feeling frustrated with below average scores or even finding a lack of direction in the way the course is headed.
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