A Master of Science, or MS, degree is a research-based degree available in a variety of fields, and it sometimes prepares graduates to pursue doctoral-level study in their chosen field. Science, medicine, engineering and math are common areas of study. Students in MS programs often complete a thesis and research in addition to taking regular courses, and they may select a further specialization.
Students usually first have to complete a 4-year bachelor's degree before enrolling in an MS program, although there are schools that offer joint bachelor's and master's degree programs. Such a joint program may take only 5 years to complete both degrees.