MA vs MSc: Difference Between an MA and MSc degree

MA vs MSc is a topical issue for most students before they embark on their postgraduate masters journey. First, most degrees available in the English-speaking world are bachelor’s degree programs. Universities offer undergraduate study, which generally takes three years to complete. After receiving a bachelor’s, students can usually proceed to postgraduate study.

Most PhD programmes, master’s programmes and many associate’s degree programmes also require applicants to complete a bachelor’s degree and one or more additional requirements in certain subjects before being admitted. These programmes are often referred to as graduate or postgraduate degree programmes (e.g., MA or MSc).

The critical distinctions between these types of degrees include the career prospects, the field of study, and whether they lead to an advanced academic qualification that opens doors for further studies or research opportunities.

What is an MA degree?

The term MA usually stands for Master of Arts. It is a postgraduate degree and can be considered higher than a bachelor’s degree in some cases. A Master of Arts typically takes one to two years to complete and focuses on one specific subject or field of study.

What is an MSc degree?

An MSc degree (master of science) is a graduate or postgraduate degree typically science-based with several taught elements. It requires extensive coursework, usually in the field of study across several related modules. It is often used as an intermediate step on the road to PhD studies.

The critical distinctions between the MA vs MSc types of degrees include the field of study, assessment style, and whether they lead to an advanced academic qualification that opens doors for further studies or research opportunities.

Why study for an MA degree?

An MA allows students to focus on a specific topic in arts, humanities and sometimes social science where it can be studied in greater depth. An MA is typically awarded after one-two years of full-time study.

In addition to studying the core curriculum requirements of the MA programme, students may also choose to specialise in a certain topic within the discipline. For example, a student interested in linguistics might focus on phonetics, semantics, syntax, or pragmatics. A student interested in art history might concentrate on renaissance painting, baroque sculpture, or modernist architecture.

This level of education also provides more options for employment after graduation, especially compared to those who have completed only a bachelor’s degree. Students may choose to become professors or lecturers at colleges or universities, or they may find careers away from academia, such as in government agencies, media and publishing organisations, and non-profit organisations.

MA DegreeMSc Degree
Subjects include the humanities and arts, e.g., literature, philosophy, theatre arts, journalism, and politics.Subjects include engineering, accounting, computing, finance, economics, and mathematics.
Weekly contact teaching hours for full-time students: 3-6 hours per week.Weekly contact teaching hours for full-time students: 6-10 hours per week.
Jobs sectors with an MA: hospitality, human resources, education, civil services, and public administration.Jobs sectors with an MSc: banking, public health, oil & gas, construction, data analytics, web development.
MA vs MSc – Difference Between an MA and MSc degree

Why study for an MSc degree?

An MSc degree is often the next step on a long road of educational study that leads to careers in academia, science and research. It is possible for graduates to pursue further studies or research opportunities with an MSc degree. An MSc is typically awarded after one-two years of full-time study, similar to an MA.

MA vs MSc: what are the main differences between MA and MSc degree

An MSc degree, which stands for master of science, is a course of study in science. An MA degree, or master of arts, is a course of study in the field of humanities, social sciences or fine arts. Both are vital to further studies for a PhD and research opportunities. Some universities also offer both undergraduate and graduate joint degrees. For example, an MA in law might be worth pursuing after completing an undergraduate degree in humanities or social sciences.

Another distinction between an MA vs MSc is that an MA focuses on a particular subarea, whereas an MSc covers a broad range of topics. For example, think about what you’d like to accomplish with your master’s degree – a more focused look at a particular subject (MA) or a more comprehensive knowledge of an entire discipline (MSc).

Both the MA and MSc degrees are valuable when it comes to job prospects and research opportunities. Students who opt for one over the other will typically choose based on their career ambitions after graduation.

Is it better to study for an MA or an MSc degree?

There are no clear-cut answers to whether it is better to study for an MA vs MSc degree, as they both have advantages and disadvantages. One advantage of studying for an MA degree is that the course content is more personal and specialised. This makes it more suitable for those who want to focus on a particular subject and pursue a career in academia or research.

An MSc degree also offers another level of specialisation and a greater breadth of knowledge. In general, the choice often comes down to personal preference.

Related Articles