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Masters Degree Classifications

Updated July 20, 2017

Masters degrees are classified by field of study and include master of business administration (M.B.A.) degrees for business-oriented students and health-related masters degrees including the master of science in nursing (M.S.N.) degree. Masters degree students can also choose to pursue a more academically-oriented masters of arts (M.A.) or masters of science (M.S.) degree. The fine arts student can specialise in her craft with a master of fine arts (M.F.A.) degree.

Master of Arts and Master of Science Degrees

The masters of arts and masters of science degrees are more academically-- rather than professionally--oriented than other masters programs. A student graduating with an M.A. or M.S. degree is qualified to pursue work in his field or to continue on to further education. Students at the University of Maryland, College Park, can choose to pursue master of arts degrees in subjects ranging from German literature and language to women's studies. Master of science students can choose from majors, including food science and physics. (see reference 1)

Arts-oriented Masters Degrees

The master of fine arts degree is designed for students in creative and performance-based fields including creative writing, dance, acting and music. According to the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD), an M.F.A. focuses more on performance and practice and requires 15-35 per cent more coursework spent practicing the specific art than an M.A. degree in the same subject. The M.F.A. prepares the student for a career in her chosen art form. The M.A. prepares the student for a career in his chosen art form or a related support capacity or for doctorate-level study in his field. (see reference 2)

Business-oriented Masters Degrees

Students interested in careers in the corporate world should consider pursuing a master's in business administration. According to the Graduate Management Admission Council, the skills that M.B.A. study teaches include how to manage innovation, strategy and strategic skills, and decision-making processes. M.B.A. students also learn to lead and motivate in a corporate setting and gain general business knowledge. (see reference 3) M.B.A. degrees can focus on a certain aspect of the corporate sphere. For example, the City University of New York's Baruch College offers an M.B.A. in Information Systems. (see reference 4)

Health-related Masters Degrees

Health-related masters degrees, including the M.S.N. degree, cater to individuals interested in developing or furthering careers in health care. M.S.N. degrees differ depending on the student's level of preparedness and goals. For example, Pacific Lutheran University's (PLU) nursing program offers M.S.N. degrees geared to registered nurses with bachelor's degrees in nursing, registered nurses with bachelor's degrees in areas other than nursing, and students who are not registered nurses but have bachelor's degrees. M.S.N. students at PLU can choose to develop skills towards careers as care and outcomes managers or family nurse practitioners. (see reference 5) Another health-related master's degree is the master of public health (M.P.H.). According to the Harvard University School of Public Health, the M.P.H. prepares the student for a career in public health management or policy-making. (see resource 1)

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About the Author

Judy Al-Ahmary has been writing professionally since 2008. She has written documentation as a computer technician, and she writes educational and health-related articles for eHow. Al-Ahmary holds a Bachelor of Science in environmental science from Saint Mary's University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.