Most master's degrees require two years of course work beyond the bachelor's degree. These courses tend to be conducted as seminars, discussion- and reading-intensive classes among small groups, in contrast with the lecture courses that are common for many master's degrees.
Exact requirements vary depending on the institution granting the degree and the subject in which it is offered. For most traditional academic subjects, such as in the humanities and sciences, students explore methodological and theoretical subjects specific to their degrees, such as lab techniques for chemistry or visual analysis for art history. Depending on the discipline, students may choose to specialize in a sub-field as well. For example, art history subfields include Modern and Contemporary, Art of the United States, Art of Africa and Asian Art.
After completing their coursework, most students are asked to complete a master's thesis, an original piece of research that contributes to the scholarship of their discipline. A master's thesis is usually shorter in length than a doctoral dissertation, though longer than most undergraduate writing. For master's degrees in applied programs, such as social work and clinical and counseling psychology, students usually also have to complete field training that prepares them for work in their field.