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The Varying Lengths of Master’s Degree Programs

Higher Education Articles December 1, 2015

This article talks about the varying lengths of master’s degree programs and different options, such as on-campus, distance learning, part-time, and dual degree programs.

Lengths of Master’s Degree Programs

Full-time students typically need two years to complete a traditional on-site master’s degree program. Schools often offer these as terminal degrees, and program graduates can receive the advanced training they would need to pursue entry-level jobs or career advancement within a chosen profession. The length of a dual degree master’s degree program would vary according to the additional degree program, and students could complete these programs in a span of 4-10 years.

On-Campus Programs (2 Years)

Extensive group discussion classes or hands-on training is often in on-campus master’s degree programs that take two years to complete. Students enrolled in many programs are allowed to avail the use of high-end equipment, such as laboratory provisions, drafting materials, or broadcasting equipment. Students who lack the necessary discipline to study on their own or who learn better through face-to-face interaction with instructors and peers may find classroom-based programs attractive.

Distance Learning Programs (2 Years)

Two-year online master’s programs are available through many schools; students are allowed to study whenever and wherever they want. Some schools may offer a hybrid or blend of on-site classes/classroom lab work and distance learning.

Online forms, chat, and email are used by students to complete assignments. Professors who offer instruction and feedback daily strictly monitor student communications. On-campus, Internet-based, or proctored exams may have to be taken by online students. In graduate programs that incorporate on-site internships, coursework may be provided online, allotting a specified time-period or semester for hands-on experience. Varying by the program, the same amount of time may be necessary for distance learning as for its on-campus equivalent.

Part-Time Programs (2-5 Years)

Full-time jobs are often available to enrollees in a master’s degree program. Distance learning, as well as a part-time option, are available at many schools. Weekend or part-time evening programs may be available to students with families and working students. Within part-time programs, one or two courses are often included in the class load per semester. Students may take 2-5 years to complete such a program, with the time frame for completion extended by as many as three years, owing to the reduced regimen.

Dual Degree Programs (4-10 Years)

A secondary degree relevant or similar to the program of study may be with several master’s degrees. For instance, a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree may be sought by law students seeking careers as a lawyer. They may also wish to pursue a specialized master’s program in accounting, business, or political science. A joint master’s program may also be in many doctorate programs where concentrated studies beyond the Ph.D. curriculum are in the program.

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