What Is A Master of Arts Degree?

A Master of Arts Degree (MA) is a post-graduate degree that is a awarded to individuals who complete an education in a field of humanities or a non-scientific field. For many students, the Master of Arts degree is the next step for them after they earn their bachelor’s degree. Despite popular belief, you do not need to get your MA degree in the same field as your bachelor’s degree, unless that is your intended career field. For example, individuals who have received a Bachelor’s of Science in Chemistry are able to then get their Master of Arts degree in English, as long as they meet the university’s requirements.
Are you new to the college process and still asking, “What is a Master of Arts Degree?” While most MA degrees are accomplished after earning a BA degree, many universities offer specialized programs that allow you to earn your BA and MA within the same program. It may take a little longer, cost more, and be a more study-intensive than just a BA degree, but in the long run, these programs are worth it.

Time to Complete an MA

Most MA degrees will take two years to complete. During these two years, students will have completed 30-50 hours of coursework and completed a thesis. For those who are working full-time, an MA degree can take longer to complete, due to the limited time available to devote to school. On the other end of the spectrum, some individuals can finish their MA degree in as little as 18 months if they devote most of their time to their coursework. Some programs may limit how long you can take to complete a master’s degree, but if there are such limits, it is generally 6-7 years.

Depending on the type of MA degree, there can be a bigger time commitment required than just class time. Many classes will require well-researched essays, one on one time with the professor, and outside classroom experience and projects.


A master’s degree can cost anywhere from $30,000 to $120,000 to complete. The price difference depends on several different factors. A state university will cost much less compared to an ivy-league school. Also, a big price difference comes from in-state tuition versus out-of-state tuition. If you are a California resident planning to attend a university in Florida, you would be required to pay $10K-$20K more per year for your degree.

Online master degrees can either be cheaper or more expensive. It is important to research online master degrees to find one that is accredited and looked highly upon by employers. Remember, an online master’s degree may look costlier at first, but it saves money in the long run due to the lack of commute.

The cost of an MA degree can also depend greatly on how long it takes for someone to complete the degree. If the university charges per semester, then MA students could easily save thousands of dollars just by finishing their degree in one less semester. However, if the university charges per credit hour, then it will not matter how long it takes to complete the college degree.

Finally, remember that many employers will offer tuition reimbursement up to a certain dollar amount each year. Be sure to check with your employer about this benefit before enrolling in your MA degree.


There are several benefits in getting your master’s degree. First of all, it can open up your career options. College is a more popular choice in today’s age, which means most people will complete their bachelor’s degree. If you have your master’s degree, you have a better chance at getting a job you applied for over someone who just has a bachelor’s degree.

Another benefit to getting your MA degree is to earn more money.  For careers that require a degree in art, human resources, history, or teaching, an MA degree can earn you $10K-$15K more a year than someone with a BA. Some careers, such as a librarian or community college professor, require the minimum of a Master of Arts degree. These jobs generally pay more, as well.

One last benefit to getting your Masters of Arts degree is that you can cover up a so-so bachelor’s degree. For example, if you received your BA in English or art history and are finding a hard time getting a well-paying job, you can then continue on to a more specific MA degree in a different field. A Master of Arts degree is beneficial for those wanting to change their career path or for those wanting to look more appealing to future employers.

Types of MA Degrees

There are several types of Master of Arts degrees. Here are just a few examples of MA degrees available:

  • MA in Anthropology
  • MA in Art
  • MA in Art History
  • MA in Chicano Studies
  • MA in Communication
  • MA in Education
  • MA in English
  • MA in French
  • MA in Geography
  • MA in History
  • MA in Humanities
  • MA in Linguistics
  • MA in Mass Communication
  • MA in Political Science
  • MA in Sociology
  • MA in Spanish

Each university will specialize in different Master of Arts degree programs. It is good to pick a MA degree based on your passions and desired career field.

Professions That Benefit from MA Degrees

Most professional positions will earn more money if the employee has as Master of Arts degree. However, some professions are more profitable and beneficial than others.

Many community colleges hire individuals with a Master of Arts degree to teach or as teaching assistants. Most schools also pay better and desire teachers with MA degrees. Librarians are also required to have a master’s degree.

If you are looking to further your education and your career, then a Master of Arts degree is the right choice for you. It is essential to be able to set several hours a week aside to focus on your degree if you wish to be successful. It is also important to find the right university for you and your desired Master of Arts degree.

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