What Is a Graduate Degree?

Graduate school includes both master's and doctoral-level degree programs. These advanced academic degrees are available to individuals who already have completed bachelor's degree programs and wish to further their education. Some popular types of graduate degrees include the Master of Business Administration, Juris Doctor and Doctor of Philosophy. Continue reading to learn more about graduate degrees.

Understanding Graduate School

Though many students pursue graduate studies in the same field in which they received their bachelor's degree, undergraduate and graduate degrees don't have to match. For instance, if you earned a Bachelor of Arts (B.A) in Psychology, you can pursue a Master of Arts (M.A.) in English or even a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.). Similarly, if you earned a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Engineering, you could choose to pursue a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Theology.

Most graduate degree programs exclusively feature courses specific to their fields of study, rather than including numerous general education requirements, as in associate's and bachelor's degree programs. Ph.D. programs, however, usually include courses from a wide study range.

Important Facts about Graduate Degrees

Common Courses Accounting, taxation, aeronautics, public health, neuroscience, social work, nursing, music, industrial engineering
Degrees Master of Science, Master of Arts, Doctor of Philosophy, professional degrees
Online Availability Growing number of resources
Possible Careers Educator, financial manager, mechanical engineer, public health officer, software engineer, psychologist, accountant, art director
Median Salary (2018)$78,470 (Postsecondary Teachers)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)15% growth (Postsecondary Teachers)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Types of Graduate Degrees

Master's degrees are designed to denote mastery of a specific field of study or professional practice. A master's degree can take anywhere from one to four or more years to complete. Many institutions also offer joint master's-bachelor's programs that allow you to complete both degrees in as little as five years. The following are the most common types of master's degrees in the U.S.:

  • M.B.A.
  • Master of Science (M.S.)
  • Master of Arts (M.A.)

A doctoral degree, the highest level of graduate degree, is achieved by a little more than one percent of the population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Most students complete doctoral degree programs within ten years, although some finish in as little as four years.

The most common type of doctoral degree is the Ph.D. The Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) is also well-known. Another popular graduate degree is the Juris Doctor (J.D.), which is a professional doctorate in law. A J.D. is required to practice law in the U.S. and many other countries.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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