How Long Does it Take to Get a Master’s Degree?

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Earning a master’s degree typically takes two years after completing a four-year bachelor’s degree. This advanced degree demonstrates that a student has deepened their knowledge in a specific field. It’s not just about theoretical knowledge; a master’s degree also involves gaining practical experience and applying what you’ve learned to real-world scenarios.

Average Time Frame for Master’s Degrees

Although it typically takes two years to earn a master’s degree, it may be possible to complete a master’s degree program in a little over a year to a year and a half. Some programs, such as National University’s online master’s programs, allow you to potentially complete your degree in only one year. 

There are a variety of factors that can impact how long it may take to finish your master’s program. These factors may include variations by program type. For instance, a master’s in a technological or scientific field may require candidates to complete a thesis, dissertation, or complete a related research project. Engineering or health-related master’s programs (including social work), can also require a practicum in order to earn your degree. These aspects of a program that take place outside of a structured classroom environment can play a role in extending the timeline toward obtaining a master’s degree. 

Master of Education in Inspired Teaching and Learning with a Preliminary Multiple and Single Subject Teaching Credential and Intern Option (CA)

How Hard is a Master’s Degree?

Earning a master’s degree varies in difficulty, as it involves an in-depth exploration of a specialized field. While a bachelor’s degree, on average taking four years, covers a broad range of subjects to develop well-rounded knowledge and skills, a master’s degree narrows the focus. It deepens the understanding of a specific area, building on the groundwork laid during undergraduate studies. The goal of a master’s degree is to achieve mastery in a chosen discipline, indicating a high level of expertise and commitment.

Applying to a Master’s Program

Starting the master’s degree journey requires careful planning and preparation. Many opt to continue their education directly after their bachelor’s degree, while some gain work experience before returning to school to boost their skills and career prospects. No matter when or how you begin, you’ll likely go through several key steps on your path to a master’s degree. 

  1. Look into schools that offer a program that meets your needs. Narrow the field to schools that offer a master’s program in your chosen area of study. Factors like the types of courses offered, faculty expertise, location (online or on-campus), and cost may play a role in selecting a master’s program. 
  2. Take note of application deadlines. Once you’ve whittled down a list of schools that offer a master’s program, make a list of deadlines to submit your application. This will help you  Take note of any application deadlines to give yourself plenty of time to gather the necessary materials to submit alongside your application. In addition to taking stock of school application deadlines, you’ll also want to look into any deadlines to apply for financial aid for a master’s program
  3. Study for any required standardized tests. Many schools require prospective master’s degree candidates to submit standardized test scores along with their application. A master’s program may require you to take either the GRE or GMAT test. However, this is not a universal requirement across all institutions of higher education. National University does not require master’s program applicants to take either the GRE or GMAT, provided they have a GPA over 2.5. If you do have to take either of these tests, the good news is that you can take the GRE or GMAT at any time, scheduling them in advance with a local testing center. 
  4. Request transcripts. When applying to a master’s program, you’ll need to submit official transcripts from any schools you attended while earning your bachelor’s degree. Be sure to have these official transcripts on hand to accompany your application. 
  5. Request letters of recommendation. Although not all master’s programs require letters of recommendation, it can be helpful to include thoughtful letters from former professors or current employers that speak to your character, goals, and why you would be a good fit for a master’s program. 
  6. Write an entrance essay. Many schools require you to submit an essay detailing your interest in the program, career goals, and why you would be an asset to the school. 
  7. Interview with an admissions advisor. Be prepared to interview with an admissions advisor or coordinator. They’ll often ask you questions about your academic and career goals, as well as why you’re interested in their school’s particular master’s program in your chosen field. 
  8. Submit your application. Complete any application forms, accompanied by a checklist of items (test scores, letters of recommendation, essays, or even a professional resume) required by your intended school’s program.

National University’s application approval process typically takes four to six weeks. Because new classes start every month, you can begin your master’s program almost immediately after being approved and enrolled.

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Is a Master’s Degree Worth it?

A master’s degree can set you apart in your field and open the door to new employment opportunities that are more fulfilling with better salaries. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, professionals with a master’s degree or higher earned roughly 21% more than those with a bachelor’s degree. 


Many of these higher-paying jobs are highly specialized and open only to those with a master’s degree or higher. For instance, education administrators, social services workers, and nurse practitioners are just a few careers that require at least a master’s degree. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that there will be at least 500,000 openings each year before 2032 for highly specialized positions that require a master’s education. More stats about the value of a master’s degree.

Can I Earn a Master’s Degree Online?

Online master’s degree programs have become increasingly popular and widely accepted in the professional world. These programs offer flexibility and convenience for students, particularly working professionals or those with family commitments. You can find online master’s programs in a variety of fields, from business and education to engineering and healthcare.

Online education is designed to be just as rigorous and comprehensive as traditional on-campus programs. Many universities offer online master’s degrees that follow the same curriculum and are taught by the same faculty as their in-person counterparts. This means you’ll be getting the same quality education but with the ability to study from anywhere and at any time that suits your schedule.

Getting your master’s degree online has some great perks, like making it easier to juggle work and school, finishing your degree quicker with fast-track options, and saving money on travel and moving. Just make sure the program you pick is well-respected and officially recognized in your field, so your degree will hold its value when you start job hunting.

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Top 5 In-Demand Master’s Degrees

Deciding to pursue a master’s degree is a big step. Maybe you’re already employed in a field you love and are looking to a master’s as a logical stepping stone to new career opportunities. Or maybe you’re looking to switch careers and make the leap—master’s degree firmly in hand—to a more rewarding path. If you’re still deciding on an area of study, here are some of the most popular master’s programs to consider. 

MBA

Getting a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree can pave the way for success across various sectors. The core skills you learn in an MBA program are valuable whether you’re working with small and medium-sized businesses, large corporations, or non-profit organizations.

National University’s MBA program offers a variety of specializations, including Entrepreneurship, Global Business Management, and Financial Management. Regardless of your chosen area of specialization, the program equips you with the skills and knowledge to make informed business decisions, effectively communicate with peers and stakeholders, and take a solutions-oriented approach to complex business problems. 

Healthcare Administration

According to the Census Bureau, the healthcare field is the largest employment sector in the US. It’s also one of the fastest-growing areas of employment, with the BLS anticipating 14% growth before 2028. With this in mind, a Master of Health Administration (MHA) can prepare you to solve many of the complex problems surrounding cost, quality, and access to healthcare. 

Candidates in National University’s MHA program benefit from our partnership with the San Diego Organization of Healthcare Leaders (SOHL). This partnership helps you broaden your professional network to encompass over 30,000 healthcare executives globally, preparing you for diverse career possibilities. 

Within the MHA program, you’ll learn how to analyze and apply a wide range of statistical information, from the evaluation of corporate financial management concepts to understanding how socioeconomic and regulatory factors impact people and communities through the lens of healthcare. You’ll also develop leadership skills and gain valuable insights into designing processes to implement care in a way that leads to better healthcare outcomes. 

Engineering

In a world that hinges on technological advancements, a Master of Science in Engineering Management can arm you with the skills needed to lead and innovate across a variety of projects and processes. 

National University’s Engineering Management master’s degree program is geared towards engineers, scientists, and those in the technological field. The program offers candidates specialization in either project and program management or systems engineering. The program blends an emphasis on management skills alongside technical expertise, helping to equip graduates with the skills needed to thrive in the fast-paced, globally connected world of technology. 

The Master of Science in Engineering Management grounds students in data analysis and critical thinking skills with regard to managing technical projects, as well as surfacing a variety of tools and techniques designed to help make informed business and service decisions. 

Computer Science 

The BLS anticipates that the need for computer and information research scientists will increase by 23% before 2032—much faster than the average across all occupations. With this in mind, professionals who are well-versed in the means and methodology behind computer science principles can stand out in this rapidly growing and advancing field. 

National University’s Master of Science in Computer Science (MSCS) program gives candidates the fundamental skills needed to keep pace with advanced technology, as well as best practices for software engineering, database design, and cloud computing. Students analyze, design, and integrate front-end cloud applications and server architectures with backend databases and develop an understanding of computer security vulnerabilities and how to counter them. 

As part of this program’s graduation requirements, students have the opportunity to put their learned skills into practice with a three-month project, tackling complex computing challenges in a professional setting within a set timeframe.

Human Resource Management 

A master’s degree in Human Resource Management sets you up for a career across a variety of industries with a wide range of transferable knowledge and skills to manage and recruit talent to an organization, develop training programs, and address legal and ethical challenges that materialize in the workplace. 

A Master of Arts in Human Resource Management (MAHRM) from National University gives candidates the opportunity to specialize in Organizational Leadership. HR professionals develop the skills needed to solve complex problems and proactively initiate positive changes in organizations. This specialization involves course-based learning alongside practical experience and a capstone thesis to demonstrate leadership capabilities in the human resource management space. 

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Earn Your Master’s Degree at National University

Earning a master’s degree can prepare you for greater opportunities to advance your career or break into a more fulfilling field. National University offers a wide variety of master’s programs, with courses starting every four weeks. These concentrated four-week and eight-week courses allow you to start sooner and complete your program faster, all while gaining valuable skills and experience to set you apart in your field.

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