3 Things to Know Before Pursuing Your Master’s Degree

  • A thesis master's degree involves research.
  • Choosing one type of master's degree over the other will depend on your preferred working styles, your skills, personality, and career objectives.
  • Full-time students take an average of 1.5-2 years to complete their master's degree.

It can be tricky deciding on whether to pursue a masters in speech pathology, or a different field. First of all, you should know that there are two MA degrees; thesis (research-based) and non-thesis (coursework based, professional, or taught). Regardless of the MA program you choose, there are some things you need to know before committing to your finances and time. Before you apply for a master’s degree, there are three things you should know beforehand.

The number of credit hours varies by degree and institution, but most master’s degrees demand 30-60 credit hours from their students.

1. Thesis and Non-Thesis Master’s Degree

When thinking of pursuing a master’s degree, one of the most challenging things is to decide your specialization and the institution to provide it. However, some universities further complicate the issue by having the student decide if they will take a thesis or non-thesis MA degree.

A thesis master’s degree involves research. When you enroll in such a program, you will be expected to develop a research proposal and finish a thesis under the supervision of a faculty member. The length of the research varies among universities, where some demand as much as 50 pages. A thesis master’s, such as a master’s in speech pathology, also includes some coursework, but the classes mainly focus on research methods and theory. Much of the student’s time is spent reading, gathering data, analyzing results, and writing the thesis.

Non-thesis master’s degree, also known as course-based, professional, or taught masters, is delivered through seminars and lectures and evaluated based on exams, projects, and coursework.

Choosing one type of master’s degree over the other will depend on your preferred working styles, your skills, personality, and career objectives. Before you decide which to take, look at the checklist below and see what suits you best.

A thesis master’s degree is ideal if you:

  • Enjoy an in-depth exploration of a topic
  • Are inquisitive
  • Enjoy reading and writing a lot
  • Can work independently
  • Are preparing for a career in academia or research and development

A non-thesis master’s degree is ideal if you:

  • Enjoy learning about a variety of topics in your field of interest
  • Like to attend and participate in lectures and courses
  • Prefer projects and group work instead of writing
  • Have a specific career goal and want to develop specific skill sets
  • Are comfortable using what has been researched and tested

2. How Long Will it Take to Earn your Master’s Degree?

Full-time students take an average of 1.5-2 years to complete their master’s degree. Many factors may shorten or prolong this time from enrolment to graduation. For example, if you take a heavy course load, you can complete your master’s degree program even within seven months. On the other hand, part-time students who enroll in a program with many credit hours can take longer, with some completing their degree in seven years.

Consider the following factors to determine how long you will spend on your master’s degree.

Amount of Program Credits Needed

The first thing that will determine how long you take on your master’s degree is the credit hours you will be required to complete. The more credit hours, the more time it will take. The number of credit hours varies by degree and institution, but most master’s degrees demand 30-60 credit hours from their students.

Some institutions allow students to choose between part-time or full-time enrollment options.

Full-Time vs. Part-Time Enrolment

Some institutions allow students to choose between part-time or full-time enrollment options. This gives the student the flexibility to decide how fast they want to complete their master’s degree. You should understand that you will finish your master’s degree faster if you take more classes.

Online Learning Options

Most institutions expect full-time students to finish their degree programs within three years. However, not everyone can attend full-time classes; hence many universities and colleges now provide a variety of hybrid and online learning options.

3. How much will the Master’s Degree Cost?

The average cost when studying for a master’s degree is $30,000-$120,000. The cost varies by institution and the type of master’s program. The cost of the master’s program is also dependent on where you are taking the courses. For example, if you are joining a public university and paying in-state tuition, it will cost you less than going to a private institution or paying out-of-state tuition, or both.

Tracie Johnson

Tracie Johnson is a New Jersey native and an alum of Penn State University. She is passionate about writing, reading, and living a healthy lifestyle. She feels happiest when around a campfire surrounded by friends, family, and her Dachshund named Rufus.

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