Master’s degree is the next step in getting higher education after obtaining a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. Master’s programs allow to deepen specialization in a particular professional field and after completion they give a person the opportunity to engage in research activities or teaching.
About master’s degree
Master’s degree shouldn’t be considered just as a final step in obtaining higher education. Usually a graduate student is a person who has both a degree (bachelor’s or equivalent) and some prior working experience in a particular area. This gives the person a clear idea of what skills and knowledge he/she needs to master for further professional development and career building. Therefore, the purpose of applying for a master’s program is the desire to improve the knowledge in the field significantly or obtain fundamentally new knowledge in another area.
Nowadays, a variety of master’s programs offered by universities is very versatile. For example, if a student plans to work in the banking sector, when applying for a bachelor’s degree he/she chooses a general specialization – mathematics or economics. But for master’s degree a more narrow focus will be selected, for example, a program in Securities and Banking.
However, there may be cases when previous academic education differs from the desired master’s program quite a lot. For example, a student obtained the bachelor’s degree in Humanities but has a desire to complete a master’s program in Business. In this case, the applicant is not required to obtain a bachelor’s degree for admission to the selected master’s program. It is necessary only to verify the relevant work experience, as well as motivation and clear vision for the further professional development that forces the student to choose a different speciality.
About online master’s programs
All these features are typical both for traditional and online master’s programs that are offered not only by separate universities, but also by their consortiums. For example, CanadianVirtualUniversity serves as a platform for 14 universities which offer their courses and degree programs online including complete master’s programs. The Global University Alliance combines courses and programs provided by 10 schools from US, UK, Denmark, Switzerland, China, Singapore, Japan and Australia.
But it should be noted that popular informal platforms like Coursera and Udacity (MOOC providers) offer just certificates on completion of courses without giving degrees or degree equivalents. So, in order to obtain an entire master’s degree online you should seek for a university standing behind a program rather than for a platform, although, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, 2U learning platform combines degree programs from top universities allowing students to obtain master’s degree in Teaching, Nursing, Information and Data Science and many others fields at such great universities as University of Southern California, Georgetown, University of North Carolina or UC Berkeley.
Today there are plenty of such educational institutions in US and Europe having full master’s programs available online. Thus, the answer to the main question is yes – you can get entire master’s degree online. But still, it won’t be easy to find a program which will suit you perfectly.
Some universities offer courses which can be taken completely online, while others require some course work in person in addition to learning materials provided remotely. Obviously, the choice of online programs is limited, since it is rather difficult to get a master’s degree online when it comes to lab-focused researches. So, some universities offer master’s programs for e-learning only in certain areas.
Note that it is important to find out whether an offered master’s degree is accredited since this ensures the high quality of the academic program. Also, consider all fees and funding associated with the process of getting master’s degree online because e-learning can be really cost-reducing, but still it costs something.
How fast can you get a degree?
The duration of traditional graduate programs in different universities makes up 1-2 years and depends primarily on the country, a particular institution and the program selected. For example, in the United States, Germany, the Scandinavian countries master’s programs usually take 2 years. However, in Great Britain you can get a master’s degree in 1 year.
As for online master’s programs, they can be of longer duration taking up to 3-5 years. But in fact, since the flexibility is the main advantage of online courses, a student can complete a master’s program faster than in a brick-and-mortar university. It is really possible to complete MBA degree program within 1 year if a student makes every effort and works fingers to the bone.