What Is the Difference Between an M.A. and an M.Sc.?


An M.A. is a master's degree in the arts, humanities and social sciences, while a M.Sc. is a master's degree in the sciences. A master's degree is a postgraduate degree that is usually worked for after an individual has obtained a bachelor's degree and before attempting a doctoral degree.

Typically, an M.A. covers disciplines such as communication, music, education, literature, languages, linguistics, history and geography. Disciplines embraced by an M.Sc. include engineering, statistics, health, chemistry and biology. A subject such as economics may be classed as either an M.A. or an M.Sc.

Depending on which educational institution the student is enrolled in, it usually takes one to three years to complete a master's degree and involves:

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Examinations and/or
  • Dissertation

To be accepted for a master's degree program, a person needs to have a bachelor's degree, have obtained a certain grade point average or pass mark and usually have majored in the same or similar subject as the intended master's degree. For example, an M.Sc. applicant probably needs to have a bachelor's degree in one of the sciences, that is, a B.Sc. Practical work experience in a relevant field may also be a qualifying factor.

An individual working for a master's degree needs to be dedicated and have good research abilities. Obtaining a master's degree may increase chances of getting employment and is sometimes a prerequisite when applying for certain jobs.

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