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Types of Masters Degree

There's a wider range of courses available at postgraduate level. The way that you can study is also much more varied. Generally, there are three types of Masters degree.

Taught Masters such as Master of Arts (MA) and Master of Science (MSc) degrees include a series of modules delivered in classrooms or laboratories followed by a final dissertation. Research Masters such as Master of Research (MRes) and Master of Philosophy (MPhil) degrees focus on independent project work rather than seminars and lectures.

More professional and vocational qualifications includes Masters of Business Administration (MBAs) as well as postgraduate teacher training, law and pre-registration nursing courses. These involve more practical placements and accredited training.

The guides here explain all of these types of Masters degrees and other postgraduate courses in much more detail. You can also jump straight below to a comparative list of Masters degrees and a short summary video.

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What can you get a Masters in?

Taught Masters degrees involve studying a set schedule of lectures and seminars. Although they share plenty of similarities with undergraduate programmes, they involve a much greater level of independent study than you’ll be used to at Bachelors-level.

These are the main types of taught Masters degree and other postgraduate qualifications delivered by coursework:

Research Masters degrees are even more independent in nature than taught programmes. Students on these courses will typically focus on their own research work rather than following a set timetable of modules.

The main kinds of research Masters degrees are:

Professional Masters degrees are vocational courses aimed to prepare students for a career in a particular sector.

These are some of the most popular professional postgraduate qualifications:

Looking for a quick way to compare different types of Masters degree, side by side? Check out our list of degrees below.


Postgraduate Qualification Types
Degree Full Title Type Length Subjects
MA Master of Arts Taught 1-2 years Arts, Humanities & some Social Sciences
MSc Master of Science Taught 1-2 years Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics & some Social Sciences
MRes Master of Research

Taught

-

Research

1-2 years All subjects
MPhil Master of Philosophy Research 2 years All subjects
MFA Master of Fine Arts

Practical

-

Professional

1-2 years Arts
MArch Master of Architecture

Practical

-

Professional

2 years Architecture
MLitt Master of Letters

Taught

-

Research

1-2 years Arts & Humanities
LLM Master of Laws

Taught

-

Research

1-2 years Law
LPC Legal Practice Course Professional 1-2 years Law
GDL Graduate Diploma in Law Professional 1 year Law
MBA Master of Business Administration Professional 1-2 years Business & Management
MIM Masters in Management Professional 1 year Business & Management
MEng Master of Engineering

Taught

-

Professional

4 years Engineering & Technology
MSW Master of Social Work

Taught

-

Professional

2 years Social Work
PGCert Postgraduate Certificate

Taught

-

Professional

1 term All subjects
PGDip Postgraduate Diploma

Taught

-

Professional

2 terms All subjects
PGCE Postgraduate Certificate in Education Professional 1-2 years Teaching
PGDE Professional Diploma in Education Professional 1-2 years Teaching

Please note that individual degree programs can vary and it’s possible that a specific course at a given university might be slightly different to the typical guidelines above.




Last Updated: 17 December 2021