|Degree Programs and Levels
Graduate degrees are available in almost any subject and come in three levels and two types. You may have the option of choosing programs outside of your undergraduate degree though some prerequisites may be required.
Two types of graduate degrees, professional and research, can be earned at the master’s, specialist, and doctoral levels, as well as a number of combinations of these types and levels. You are encouraged to research your desired career path well before selecting the discipline or program you will pursue in graduate school. Depending on the graduate school program and degree level you desire, your program requirements, length, and career outcomes will vary.
Types of Degrees
- Professional degree programs. A professional program is designed to prepare those who intend to enter a specific profession like law, medicine, college student personnel, education, and many others.
- Research degree programs. A research program is designed to contribute original research and a body of knowledge to a particular discipline like those that compose the humanities, the social sciences, the natural sciences, engineering, or communications and information, for example.
Level of Degrees
- Specialist degrees are usually earned in addition to a master’s degree and will require additional coursework, training, or internship experience. This type of degree usually prepares students for professional certification or licensing requirements (e.g., Ed.S. for school principal or credential for becoming a teacher).
- Master’s degrees are offered in many fields of study. Some are designed to lead to a doctoral degree while others are the “terminal” degree for a profession (e.g., Master of Library Science; Master of Business Administration). For full-time students, completing a master’s degree usually takes two years.
- Doctoral degrees are the highest degrees possible. They usually require the creation of new knowledge via independent research–be it basic or applied. Including the time it takes to write and defend a dissertation, this degree may take anywhere from 5-7 years to complete.