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Master of Science (MS) Master's Degree

In graduate school, a number of options exist for a potential master's degree program in the sciences. This article gives you a preview of the many choices you will face when selecting a master's program and includes online format options along with potential career paths when you earn a master's degree.

What is a Master of Science Degree?

The Master of Science (M.S.) degree title is earned after completing a science-based master's program in graduate school, after completing your undergraduate degree.

You should be able to earn your M.S. degree in 2-3 years, but this may vary depending on the school you attend.

Master's programs typically include lecture and research courses, with an independent thesis required for graduation. Examples of areas that offer a M.S. program include:

  • Biology
  • Psychology
  • Journalism
  • Education
  • Health management
  • Administrative justice
  • Finance
  • Communication
  • Sports studies

Program LengthTwo to three years
Areas of StudyBiology, psychology, communications, education
Program FormatOnline or on-campus
PrerequisitesBachelor's degree, GRE scores, GPA from undergraduate studies
Median Salary$74,568 for those with a master's degree in 2018

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

How Do Online Programs Work?

M.S. programs are also available online and offer greater flexibility in scheduling and when you can complete your coursework. You will generally need access to a high-speed Internet connection, e-mail and a word processor. Your interaction with course professors and classmates will be done using a variety of methods, including a course management system, video conferencing and online discussion boards.

What Are the Requirements?

Most programs require you to hold a bachelor's degree. Some M.S. programs only admit students who have an undergraduate degree in fields related to the area they will be studying. For example, if you would like to earn a Master of Science in Psychology, you might need to study psychology or a related field, such as sociology, as an undergraduate. Admission to a master's program can be competitive, and many schools base their decisions on GPA, GRE scores, research experience and letters of recommendations.

What Can I Do With My Degree?

Earning your master's degree can benefit you in multiple ways. In 2019, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that individuals over the age of 25 with a master's degree earned a median weekly salary of $1,434, while the same age group with a bachelor's degree earned $1,198 (www.bls.gov). In addition to enhancing your career opportunities, earning your master's degree can also prepare you for a doctoral degree program if you wish to continue your education and research experience.