Master of Arts

A Master of Arts (Latin: Magister Artium; abbreviated M.A.; also Latin: Artium Magister, abbreviated A.M.) is a person who was admitted to a type of master's degree awarded by universities in many countries, and the degree is also named Master of Arts in colloquial speech. The degree is usually contrasted with the Master of Science. Those admitted to the degree typically study linguistics, history, communication studies, diplomacy, public administration, political science, or other subjects within the scope of the humanities and social sciences; however, different universities have different conventions and may also offer the degree for fields typically considered within the natural sciences and mathematics. The degree can be conferred in respect of completing courses and passing examinations, research, or a combination of the two.

The Master of Arts traces its origin to the teaching license or Licentia docendi of the University of Paris.[1]



In Germany, the traditional equivalent of the postgraduate Master of Arts was the Magister Artium. This degree, which usually required 5 years of studies, did exist in former West Germany and in reunited Germany, but not in former East Germany where all degree courses led to Diplom degrees. Traditional Magister degrees were granted in social sciences and most of the humanities (International Business, Affairs, European Studies and Economics included), with the exception of visual and performing arts such as music and theatre.

The Magister Artium was either a double major degree or a combination of one major and two minors. German postgraduate Master's of Arts and Master's of Science degrees were introduced in 2001. Therefore, the new Master of Arts and the old Magister Artium degrees existed side by side until the phase out of the old degrees since 2010; Magister Artium degrees are still awarded (as of 2014). The new Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees together also require 5 years of studies, which is the reason why the new Master of Arts and the old Magister Artium degrees are considered equivalent.


In the Netherlands, the master of Arts and the Master of Science degrees were introduced in 2002. Until that time, a single program that led to the doctorandus degree (or the ingenieur degree in the case of technical subjects) was in effect, which comprised the same course load as the Bachelor and Master programs put together. Those who had already started the doctorandus program could, upon completing it, opt for the doctorandus degree (before their name, abbreviated to 'drs.'; in the case of ingenieur, this would be 'ir.'), or simply use the master's degree (behind their name) in accordance with the new standard (so, 'MA' or 'MSc'). Because these graduates do not have a separate bachelor's degree (which is in fact – in retrospect – incorporated into the program), the master's degree is their first academic degree.


The Polish equivalent of Master of Arts is "magister" (its abbreviation "mgr" is placed before one's name, like dr). At the technical universities, one is awarded with inżynier (engineer) after three years and then with "magister" after completing another two years of study and graduating. Such persons use titles "mgr inż". In the 1990s, the MA programs usually lasting 5 years were replaced by separate 3-year bachelor's and 2-year master's programs. The degree is awarded in the arts (literature, foreign languages, filmmaking, theatre etc.), natural sciences, mathematics, computer science fields, and economics. The completion of a research thesis is required. All master's degrees in Poland qualify for a doctorate program.

Nordic countries

In Finland, Denmark and Norway, the master's degree is a combined taught/research degree, awarded after 2 years of studies after completing the bachelor's degree. The student is required to write a scientific thesis.

In Finland, this master's degree is called a filosofian maisteri (Finnish) or filosofie magister (Swedish) degree, and it is abbreviated as FM or "fil.mag.".

In Sweden, there is still an intermediate degree between the Bachelor (kandidat) and Master called magister which only requires one year of studies, including a scientific thesis after completing the bachelor's degree. This fourth year typically constitutes the first half of Master programme. If not, it may be supplemented by a fifth year and a Master's thesis to obtain a master's degree in the field of study.

United Kingdom and Ireland

Most universities

The MA is typically a "taught" postgraduate degree, involving lectures, examination, and a dissertation based on independent research. Taught master's programs involve one or two years of full-time study. Many can be done part-time as well. Until recently, both the undergraduate and postgraduate master's degrees were awarded without grade or class (like the class of an honours degree). Nowadays, however, master's degrees are normally classified into the categories of Fail, Pass, Pass with Merit, or Pass with Distinction. This education pattern in the United Kingdom is followed in India and many Commonwealth Nations.

The Master of Laws (LLM) is the standard degree taught for law, but certain courses may lead to MA, MLitt, Master of Studies (MSt), and the Bachelor of Civil Law (BCL) at Oxford. All of these degrees are considered substitutes to one another and are thus generally equivalent.


In the ancient universities of Scotland, the degree of Master of Arts is awarded in universities as a four-year undergraduate degree, see Master of Arts (Scotland).

The Master of Arts is awarded in arts, humanities, theology, and social sciences. However, some universities—particularly those in Scotland—award the Master of Letters (MLitt) to students in the arts, humanities, divinity, and social sciences.

Oxford, Cambridge, Dublin (conferred)

At Oxford, Cambridge and Dublin, the MA is conferred after a certain number of years without further examination to those who are Bachelors of Arts.

The title of Master of Arts may also be awarded, in the case of the oldest British universities only, without further examination to those who have graduated as Bachelor of Arts and who have the requisite years' standing as members of the university or as graduates. This happens, in England, only at the universities of Oxford, four years after completing a bachelor's degree, and Cambridge, six years after the first term of study. It is also the case at the University of Dublin in Ireland. The abbreviated name of the university (Oxon, Cantab or Dubl) is therefore almost always appended in parentheses to the initials "MA" in the same way that it is to higher degrees, e.g. "John Smith, MA (Cantab), PhD (Lond)", principally so that it is clear (to those who are aware of the system) that these are nominal and unexamined degrees.[2]

The MLitt is a research degree at the University of Cambridge, where the Master of Philosophy (MPhil) is the name given to the standard one-year taught degree with a unique research element, in contrast to the use of MPhil at other institutions for a research degree.

In February 2011, Labour MP for Nottingham East, Chris Leslie, sponsored a private member's bill in Parliament, the master's degrees (Minimum Standards) Bill 2010–12, in order to "prohibit universities awarding Master’s degrees unless certain standards of study and assessment are met". The Bill's supporters described the practice as a "historical anachronism” and argued that unearned qualifications should be discontinued in order to preserve the academic integrity of the taught MA. Further, they warned that the title gave Oxbridge graduates an unfair advantage in the job market.

Research by the universities watchdog, the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, in 2000, showed that two-thirds of employers were unaware that the Cambridge MA did not represent any kind of post-graduate achievement involving study.[3]

On 21 October 2011, the master's degrees (Minimum Standards) Bill 2010–12 received its second reading. The Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session, meaning it made no further progress.[4]

Oxford, Cambridge (earned)

A number of different master's degrees may be earned at Oxford and Cambridge. The most common, the Master of Philosophy (MPhil), is a two-year research degree. The Master of Science (MSc) and the Master of Studies (MSt) degrees each take one year. They often combine some coursework with research. The Master of Letters (MLitt) is a pure research master's degree. More recently, Oxford and Cambridge offer a Masters of Business Administration. Master's degrees are generally offered without classification, though the top five percent may be deemed worthy of Distinction.[5] Both universities also offer a variety of four-year undergraduate integrated master's degrees such as MEng or MMath.[6][7][8]

North America

In Canada and the United States, the Master of Arts (Magister Artium) and Master of Science (Magister Scientiæ) are the basic graduate-level degrees in most subjects and may be course-based, research-based, or, more typically, a combination of the two.[9]

Admission to a master's program is normally contingent upon holding a bachelor's degree. Some programs provide for a joint bachelor's and master's after about five years.[10] Some universities use the Latin degree names, such as Artium Magister (AM) or Scientiæ Magister (SM). For example, Harvard University, Dartmouth College, the University of Chicago, MIT, the University of Pennsylvania, and Brown University use the abbreviations AM and SM for some of their master's degrees.[11][12] A Master of Arts may be given in a scientific discipline, common at Ivy League universities.

Many universities offer Master of Arts programs, which are differentiated either as Thesis or Non-Thesis programs. Usually, the duration for a Non-Thesis option is one to two years of full-time study. The period for a Thesis option may last longer, depending also on the required level of courses and complexity of the thesis. Sometimes, qualified students who are admitted to a "very high research" Master of Arts might have to earn credits also at the PhD level, and they may need to complete their program in about three years of full-time candidature e.g. at the universities Harvard in the US and McGill in Canada.

A thesis must be a distinct contribution to knowledge. It must demonstrate ability to plan and carry out research, organize results, and defend the approach and conclusions in a scholarly manner. The research presented must meet current standards of the discipline. Finally, the thesis must clearly demonstrate how the research advances knowledge in the field.


  1. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Master of Arts" . Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  2. ^ Debretts Correct Form (2013 edn) - Academics
  3. ^ "Oxbridge students' MA 'degrees' under threat". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2 January 2013.
  4. ^ "Parliamentary business". Retrieved 2 January 2013. External link in |publisher= (help)
  5. ^ "Graduate courses A-Z listing - University of Oxford".
  6. ^ "The structure of undergraduate courses at the University of Cambridge". University of Cambridge. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
  7. ^ "Mathematics". University of Oxford. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
  8. ^ "Engineering Science". University of Oxford. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
  9. ^ Structure of the U.S. Education System: Master's Degrees, International Affairs Office, U.S. Department of Education, February 2008, retrieved 2010-02-25
  10. ^ See, for example, the program run by Claremont Graduate University for graduates of the Claremont Colleges
  11. ^ "Degree Programs - The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences". Harvard University. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
  12. ^ "Degree Abbreviations - Harvard University". Harvard University. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
American University School of International Service

The School of International Service (SIS) is American University's school of advanced international study, covering areas such as international politics, international communication, international development, international economic relations, peace and conflict resolution, global environmental politics, and U.S. foreign policy.

The School of International Service was established in 1957 and has an alumni network of over 20,000. SIS enrolls more than 3,000 students from over 150 countries. The school makes extensive use of the academic and governmental resources offered by its location in Washington, D.C. The School of International Service consistently ranks highly among international relations programs. SIS is a member of the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs.

Arellano University Graduate School

Arellano University Graduate School, officially as Florentino Cayco Memorial School of Graduate Studies in honor of the founder and first President of the university, is the graduate school of Arellano University. It is also known as the graduate business school of the university as it offers the Master of Business Administration program.

The Graduate School of Education offers courses of Doctor of Education, major in Educational Management; Master of Arts in Psychology and Master of Arts in Education, major in Early Childhood Education, Education Management & Supervision, English, Filipino, Guidance and Counseling, Home Economics, Mathematics and Psychology and Special Education. The Psychology and Special Education has two Plans, Plan A is with Master's Thesis and Plan B with Special Research Project.The Graduate School of Nursing is one of the major academics offered by Arellano University with a PACUCOA Level II. It offers the course Master of Arts in Nursing, major in Mental Health & Psychiatric Nursing, Medical and Surgical Nursing, Community Health Nursing, Maternal and Child Nursing, Administration and Supervision in Nursing and Occupational Health Nursing.The Graduate School of Business offers the master's degree in Business Administration, which specializes in General Management, Marketing, Operations, Organizational Management and Finance.


Candidatus magisterii (male), or candidata magisterii (female), abbreviated as cand.mag., is an academic degree currently awarded in Denmark. The degree is officially translated into English as Master of Arts and currently requires 5 years of studies. The degree was historically also awarded in Norway and Iceland, based on the Danish degree.

Degrees of the University of Oxford

The system of academic degrees at the University of Oxford can be confusing to those not familiar with it. This is not merely because many degree titles date from the Middle Ages, but also because many changes have been haphazardly introduced in recent years. For example, the (medieval) BD, BM, BCL, etc. are postgraduate degrees, while the (modern) MPhys, MEng, etc. are undergraduate degrees.

In postnominals, "University of Oxford" is normally abbreviated "Oxon.", which is short for (Academia) Oxoniensis: e.g., MA (Oxon.), although within the university itself the abbreviation "Oxf" can be used.

Earlham College

Earlham College is a private liberal arts college in Richmond, Indiana. The college was established in 1847 by the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) and has a strong focus on Quaker values such as integrity, a commitment to peace and social justice, mutual respect, and community decision-making. It is primarily a residential undergraduate college but it offers a Master of Arts in Teaching and has an affiliated graduate seminary, the Earlham School of Religion, which offers three master's degrees: a Master of Divinity, Master of Ministry, and Master of Arts in Religion.

Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy

The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (known as the Fletcher School) is the graduate school of international affairs of Tufts University, in Medford, Massachusetts. Fletcher is well-ranked in its masters and doctoral international affairs programs. As of 2017, the student body numbered around 230, of whom 36 percent were international students from 70 countries, and around a quarter were U.S. minorities. The school's alumni network numbers over 9,500 in 160 countries, and includes ambassadors, diplomats, high ranking military officers, heads of nonprofit organizations, and corporate executives.

Gratz College

Gratz College is a private, coeducational Jewish college in Melrose Park, Pennsylvania. The college traces its origins back to 1856 when banker, philanthropist and communal leader Hyman Gratz, and the Hebrew Education Society of Philadelphia (established in 1849 by Rebecca Gratz and Isaac Leeser) joined together to establish a trust to create a Hebrew teachers college. Gratz is a private liberal arts college located in a suburban setting and is primarily a commuter campus with online courses.In addition to its undergraduate, graduate certificate, master’s and doctoral programs, Gratz also runs cultural programs, adult education offerings, a Jewish Community High School, and the Tuttleman Library for Jewish studies. Gratz also operates distance learning programs, including the first online Master of Arts in Holocaust and Genocide Studies. In addition, Gratz College is "the only institution in the United States to offer an actual Doctor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies degree, as opposed to a Ph.D. in a related discipline, like history or sociology." The newly available doctorate is the first-ever online Ph.D. in Holocaust and Genocide Studies.

Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology

The Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology (ICSST) is the major seminary for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark and is part of Seton Hall University, a Roman Catholic university in New Jersey, and is located in South Orange, within the Archdiocese of Newark. ICSST is one of the oldest Catholic seminaries in the United States. Seton Hall is the oldest diocesan university in the country. ICSST admits both students to study as seminarians and lay persons as well. In addition to a Seminary Formation Program to prepare men for priesthood, ICSST has a renowned graduate program offering the following degrees:

Master of Arts in Theology (MA)

Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry (MAPM)

Master of Divinity (M.Div.)The school attracts students from all over the world and in 2006 created a bachelor's degree program in Catholic Theology.

List of environmental degrees

This is a list of environmental degrees, including for such interdisciplinary fields as environmental science, environmental studies, environmental engineering, environmental planning, environmental policy, sustainability science and studies, etc., at both undergraduate and graduate levels.

Master of Arts (Oxford, Cambridge, and Dublin)

In the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, and Dublin, Bachelors of Arts with Honours of these universities are promoted to the title of Master of Arts or Master in Arts (MA) on application after six or seven years' seniority as members of the university (including years as an undergraduate). As such, it is an academic rank, and not a postgraduate qualification. No further examination or study is required for this promotion.This practice differs from most other universities worldwide, at which the degree reflects further postgraduate study or achievement. These degrees are therefore sometimes referred to as the Oxford and Cambridge MA and the Dublin or Trinity MA, to draw attention to the difference. However, as with gaining a postgraduate degree from another university, once incepted and promoted to a Master, the graduate no longer wears the academic dress or uses the post-nominal letters pertaining to a Bachelor of Arts, being no longer of that rank: i.e. the Master of Arts degree is not awarded separately (for instance, in addition to that of Bachelor of Arts), but rather the new rank is treated as a conversion of one degree to another.

All three universities have other masters' (i.e. postgraduate) degrees that require further study and examination, but these have other titles, such as Master of Letters (M.Litt.), Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.), Master of Studies (M.St.), Master of Engineering (M.A.I., or MEng), and Master of Science (M.Sc.).

In the ancient universities of Scotland, a degree with the same name is awarded as a first degree to graduates in certain subjects (see Master of Arts (Scotland)).

Master of Arts (Scotland)

The degree of Master of Arts (MA) in UK typically refers to an undergraduate degree (either a three-year general degree or four-year Honours degree) in humanities or social sciences awarded by one of the ancient universities of Scotland (the University of St Andrews, the University of Glasgow, the University of Aberdeen, and the University of Edinburgh) plus the University of Dundee (as a result of its history as a constituent college of the University of St Andrews) and Heriot-Watt University (at honours level only). The first two years of the Scottish Master of Arts consist of ordinary Bachelor level courses; however, after these, students who are accepted to pursue the Honours route will complete more advanced subjects and write a dissertation in their fourth year. Students who choose to do a "general" degree will complete their third year at a lower level of specialisation, and receive a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or MA without Honours. For the postgraduate degree referred to in other places as "Master of Arts", Scottish universities usually award the degree of Master of Letters (MLitt). Generally, non-ancient universities in Scotland (e.g. University of Strathclyde, The Robert Gordon University, Edinburgh Napier University, etc.), award arts degrees as Bachelor of Arts.

Master of Arts in Teaching

The Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) or Master of Science in Teaching (MST) degree is generally a pre-service degree that usually requires a minimum of 30 semester hours beyond the bachelor's degree. While the program often requires education classes in order to meet state license requirements, it emphasizes advanced coursework in a specific academic discipline to enhance one's knowledge in that subject area. Furthermore, it focuses on educating the candidate in practical teaching skills for use as a teacher as opposed to focusing on performing research in the educational field. Candidates usually spend a semester as a full time student teacher in order to earn the degree. There are two general models that (MAT or MST) degrees follow: a 5th year model, in which students spend one year extra beyond their bachelor’s degree to earn a master's degree and an initial teaching license, or a "Flex" program, which usually offers part-time weekend and evening courses to accommodate professionals who are changing careers.

The Master of Arts or Master of Science in Teaching degree is often advantageous to middle school and secondary school teachers because it allows them to focus on subject area knowledge in their undergraduate program and then acquire pedagogical skills in their graduate studies.

Although there is no set standard in determining whether a program is to be an MAT or MST, the difference between them can often be observed to MAT programs focusing more on enhancing knowledge of subject area with optional courses steered towards advanced coursework and content while MST programs in "more effective teaching methods" with optional courses towards better understanding and applying education pedagogy.

They differ from the Master of Education (M.Ed) degree, which is usually designed for practicing teachers or those who desire to serve as counselors (school or otherwise) or as educational administrators.

Master of Education

The Master of Education (M.Ed. or Ed.M.; Latin Magister Educationis or Educationis Magister) is a master's degree awarded by universities in many countries. This degree in education often includes the following majors: curriculum and instruction, counseling, school psychology, and administration. It is often conferred for educators advancing in their field. Similar degrees (providing qualifications for similar careers) include the Master of Arts in Education (M.A.Ed. or M.A.E.) and the Master of Science in Education (M.S.Ed. or M.S.E.). The Master of Arts in Teaching, however, is substantially different.

Memphis College of Art

Memphis College of Art is a small, private college of art and design in Memphis, Tennessee. It is in Overton Park adjacent to the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. It faces significant financial challenges and is in the process of closing; it no longer admits new students.It offers Bachelor of Fine Arts, Master of Fine Arts, Master of Arts in Art Education and Master of Arts in Teaching degrees. Some of the majors include graphic design, drawing, painting, printmaking, book arts, computer arts, photography, animation, and illustration.

The college was founded in 1936 and was once housed in the James Lee House. Since 1959, the main building of the college has been Rust Hall, an award-winning example of mid-century architecture designed by Roy Harrover. The college was initially named James Lee Memorial Art Academy and then Memphis Academy of Art before changing to its present name in 1985.

Memphis College of Art averages around 450 students each year, with 350 being undergraduate and 100 being graduate students. It is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and National Association of Schools of Art and Design.

New Arts, Science and Commerce College, Parner

New Arts, Science and Commerce College, Parner (Marathi: न्यू आर्ट्स, सायन्स अँण्ड कॉमर्स कॉलेज, पारनेर), is a college in Parner city of Ahmednagar district in state of Maharashtra, India. The college established in July 1977.

Political science

Political science is a social science which deals with systems of governance, and the analysis of political activities, political thoughts, and political behavior. It deals extensively with the theory and practice of politics which is commonly thought of as determining of the distribution of power and resources. Political scientists "see themselves engaged in revealing the relationships underlying political events and conditions, and from these revelations they attempt to construct general principles about the way the world of politics works."Political science—occasionally called politicology—comprises numerous subfields, including comparative politics, political economy, international relations, political theory, public administration, public policy, and political methodology. Furthermore, political science is related to, and draws upon, the fields of economics, law, sociology, history, philosophy, geography, psychology/psychiatry, and anthropology.

Comparative politics is the science of comparison and teaching of different types of constitutions, political actors, legislature and associated fields, all of them from an intrastate perspective. International relations deals with the interaction between nation-states as well as intergovernmental and transnational organizations. Political theory is more concerned with contributions of various classical and contemporary thinkers and philosophers.

Political science is methodologically diverse and appropriates many methods originating in social research. Approaches include positivism, interpretivism, rational choice theory, behaviouralism, structuralism, post-structuralism, realism, institutionalism, and pluralism. Political science, as one of the social sciences, uses methods and techniques that relate to the kinds of inquiries sought: primary sources such as historical documents and official records, secondary sources such as scholarly journal articles, survey research, statistical analysis, case studies, experimental research, and model building.

School of Foreign Service

The Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, known simply as the School of Foreign Service or SFS, is a school of international relations at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. It is considered to be one of the world's leading international affairs schools, granting degrees at both undergraduate and graduate levels. Notable alumni include U.S. President Bill Clinton, former CIA Director George Tenet, and King Felipe VI of Spain, as well as the heads of state or government of many countries. Its faculty has also included many distinguished figures in international affairs, such as former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, and former President of Poland Aleksander Kwaśniewski.Founded in 1919, the School of Foreign Service predates the U.S. Foreign Service by six years, and is sometimes referred to as the “West Point of the U.S. diplomatic corps” due to the large number of graduates who end up shaping U.S. foreign policy. Despite its reputation for producing prominent American statesmen and diplomats, the SFS is not a diplomatic academy, and its graduates go on to have careers in a diverse set of sectors, including Wall Street.

The School of Foreign Service was established by Fr. Edmund A. Walsh, S.J. with the goal of preparing Americans for various international professions in the wake of expanding U.S. involvement in world affairs after the First World War. Today, the school hosts a student body of approximately 2,250 from over 100 nations each year. It offers an undergraduate program based in the liberal arts, which leads to the Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service (BSFS) degree, as well as eight interdisciplinary graduate programs.

Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan

Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan is a private, Catholic university run by the Society of Jesus in Cagayan de Oro, Northern Mindanao, Philippines. Founded in 1933 as the Ateneo de Cagayan, it became a university in 1958, when it was given its present name in honor of the Jesuit missionary St. Francis Xavier.

Yale Institute of Sacred Music

The Yale Institute of Sacred Music traces its roots to the School of Sacred Music founded at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. The seminary's department of church music was brought to Yale in 1972, entering into partnership with the Yale School of Music and the Yale Divinity School. The Institute offers programs in organ performance, choral conducting, liturgical studies, voice, and religion and the arts.

Students can achieve the degrees of Master of Music, Master of Musical Arts, Doctor of Musical Arts, Artist Diploma, Master of Divinity, Master of Arts in Religion in Liturgical Studies, Master of Arts in Religion in Music and Religion, a comprehensive Master of Arts in Religion, or Master of Sacred Theology through the affiliated schools.

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