How many credit hours do you need for a master's degree?

Updated April 17, 2017

A master's degree is an advanced degree in a specific field of study or professional practice at least 30 credit hours beyond the undergraduate degree. A master's can be obtained alone, but some programs offer a combined bachelor's and master's degree.


Students can earn an academic master's, which include the Master's of Science (MS) or Master's of Arts (MA) degree. They can also earn a professional master's, which includes areas of study like business and social work.


Master's degrees feature a certain number of required classes that provide a foundation for the rest of the courses taken in their major. Then, students take elective classes in their chosen field.


A master's degree helps individuals become experts in their chosen field and can lead to a higher salary. It also prepares students for further study to get a Ph.D.


A master's degree gives students advanced knowledge in their chosen field so they can solve complex issues and contribute their expertise to the field.


Academic master's degrees are given in the arts, sciences and humanities. Professional master's are specialised and considered terminal degrees, meaning a PhD is not necessary.

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About the Author

Cate Julia has been a freelance writer for over five years. She has a B.A. in English from the University of Maryland, a M.A. in liberal arts from Johns Hopkins University and a Master of Library and Information Science from Florida State University. Her work has appeared in the "Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature" and the "Encyclopedia of American Race Riots."