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A Master of Arts ( la, Magister Artium or ''Artium Magister''; abbreviated MA or AM) is the holder of a
master's degree A master's degree (from Latin ) is an academic degree awarded by University, universities or colleges upon completion of a course of study demonstrating mastery or a high-order overview of a specific field of study or area of Profession, professio ...
awarded by
universities A university () is an of (or ) and which awards s in several . Universities typically offer both and programs in different schools or faculties of learning. The word ''university'' is derived from the ''universitas magistrorum et scholari ...

universities
in many countries. The degree is usually contrasted with that of
Master of Science A Master of Science ( la, Magisterii Scientiae; abbreviated MS, M.S., MSc, M.Sc., SM, S.M., ScM or Sc.M.) is a master's degree A master's degree (from Latin ) is an academic degree awarded by University, universities or colleges upon completio ...
. Those admitted to the degree have typically studied subjects within the scope of the
humanities Humanities are List of academic disciplines, academic disciplines that study aspects of human society and culture. In the Renaissance, the term contrasted with Divinity (academic discipline), divinity and referred to what is now called classic ...

humanities
and
social sciences Social science is the Branches of science, branch of science devoted to the study of society, societies and the Social relation, relationships among individuals within those societies. The term was formerly used to refer to the field of socio ...

social sciences
, such as
history History (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approxima ...

history
,
literature Literature broadly is any collection of Writing, written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an art form, especially prose fiction, drama, and poetry. In recent centuries, the definition has expan ...

literature
,
languages A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the ...

languages
,
linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying ...

linguistics
,
public administration Public administration is the implementation of government policy Public policy is a course of action created and/or enacted, typically by a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, g ...
,
political science Political science is the scientific study of politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power relations between individuals, such as the distribution of ...
,
communication studies Communication studies or communication science is an academic discipline that deals with processes of human communication and behavior Behavior (American English) or behaviour (British English; American and British English spelling differe ...
,
law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its boundari ...
or
diplomacy Diplomacy is the practice of influencing the decisions and conduct of foreign governments or organizations through dialogue, negotiation, and other nonviolent means. Diplomacy usually refers to international relations carried out through the inte ...

diplomacy
; however, different universities have different conventions and may also offer the degree for fields typically considered within the
natural sciences Natural science is a Branches of science, branch of science concerned with the description, understanding and prediction of Phenomenon, natural phenomena, based on empirical evidence from observation and experimentation. Mechanisms such as peer ...
and mathematics. The degree can be conferred in respect of completing courses and passing examinations, research, or a combination of the two. The degree of Master of Arts traces its origins to the teaching license or of the
University of Paris , image_name = Coat of arms of the University of Paris.svg , image_size = 150px , caption = , latin_name = Universitas magistrorum et scholarium Parisiensis , motto = ''Hic et ubique terrarum'' (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical ...
, designed to produce "masters" who were graduate teachers of their subjects.


Europe


Germany

In Germany, the Master of Arts degree was called in
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an appa ...

Latin
''Magister Artium''. This degree, which usually required five years of studies, existed in the
Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire ( la, Sacrum Romanum Imperium; german: Heiliges Römisches Reich) was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town i ...
and its successors, including the
German Empire The German Empire or the Imperial State of Germany,, officially '.Herbert Tuttle Herbert Tuttle (1846–1894) was an American historian. Biography Herbert Tuttle was born in Bennington, Vermont Bennington is a New England town, town ...
and the
Federal Republic of Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , languages_type = Official language , languages = German language, German , demonym = Germans, German , government_ ...
, but not in the former
East Germany East Germany, officially the German Democratic Republic (GDR; german: Deutsche Demokratische Republik, , DDR, ), was a state that existed from 1949 to 1990 in eastern Eastern may refer to: Transportation *China Eastern Airlines, a current ...
where all degree courses led to a ''
Diplom A ''Diplom'' (, from grc, δίπλωμα ''diploma'') is an academic degree An academic degree is a qualification awarded to students upon successful completion of a course of study in higher education, usually at a college or university. Th ...

Diplom
''. Traditional ''Magister'' degrees are granted in
social science Social science is the branch A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist o ...

social science
s and most of the humanities (
International Business International business refers to the trade of goods, services, technology, capital and/or knowledge across national borders and at a global or transnational scale. It involves cross-border transactions of goods and services between two or more ...
, Affairs, European Studies and
Economics Economics () is a social science Social science is the branch A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a bran ...

Economics
included), with the exception of visual and performing arts such as music and theatre. The ''Magister Artium'' held 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 have existed side by side, since 2010; ''Magister Artium'' degrees are still awarded by some universities, as of 2020. The new Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees together also require five years of studies, which is the reason the new Master of Arts and the old ''Magister Artium'' degrees are considered equivalent.


Netherlands

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 Doctorandus (; ), abbreviated drs., is a Dutch academic title according to the pre-Bachelor A bachelor is a man who is not and has never been married.Bachelors are, in Pitt & al.'s phrasing, "men who live independently, outside of their parents' ...
'' degree (or the ''
ingenieur An engineer's degree is an advanced academic degree An academic degree is a qualification awarded to students upon successful completion of a course of study in higher education, usually at a college or university. These institutions commonly o ...
'' 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, which gave the title “Doctorandus” before their name, abbreviated to 'drs.'; in the case of ingenieur, this would be 'ir.'), or else opt for a master's degree as
postnominals Post-nominal letters, also called post-nominal initials, post-nominal titles, designatory letters or simply post-nominals, are letters placed after a person's name to indicate that the individual holds a position, academic degree, accreditation, ...
behind their name, in accordance with the new standard ('MA' or 'MSc'). Because these graduates do not hold a separate bachelor's degree (which is in fact – in retrospect – incorporated into the program), the master's degree is their first academic degree.


Poland

The Polish equivalent of Master of Arts is "magister" (its abbreviation "mgr" is placed before one's name, like the title Dr). At the technical universities, a student 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 five years were replaced by separate three-year bachelor's and two-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 A thesis, or dissertation (abbreviated diss.), is a document submitted in support of candidature for an academic degree An academic degree is a qualification awarded to students upon successful completion of a course of study in higher ed ...
is required. All master's degrees in Poland qualify for a
doctorate A doctorate (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republ ...

doctorate
program.


Nordic countries

In Finland, Denmark and Norway, the master's degree is a combined taught/research degree, awarded after two 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'' (in Finnish) or ''filosofie magister'' (in Swedish), 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 a Master's 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

Except at Oxford, Cambridge, and Trinity College Dublin (see below) 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 Honours degree has various meanings in the context of different degrees and education systems. Most commonly it refers to a variant of the undergraduate Undergraduate education ieducationconducted after secondary education Secondary educat ...
). 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 Commonwealth of Nations is a voluntary association of 54 sovereign states. Nearly all of them are former Crown colony, British colonies or dependencies of those colonies. No one government in the Commonwealth exercises power over the othe ...

Commonwealth Nations
. The
Master of Laws A Master of Laws (M.L. or LL.M.; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the ...
(LLM) is the standard degree taught for law, but certain courses may lead to MA, MLitt,
Master of Studies The Master of Studies (rendered M.St. or MSt) is a postgraduate degree at the University of Oxford , mottoeng = Psalm 27, The Lord is my light , established = , endowment = £6.1 billion (including colleges) (as of 31 July 2019) , b ...
(MSt), and the
Bachelor of Civil Law Bachelor of Civil Law (abbreviated BCL, or B.C.L.; la, Baccalaureus Civilis Legis) is the name of various degrees in law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set o ...
(BCL) at
Oxford Oxford () is a city in England. It is the county town and only city of Oxfordshire. In 2017, its population was estimated at 152,450. It is northwest of London, southeast of Birmingham, and northeast of Bristol. The city is home to the Unive ...
. All of these degrees are considered substitutes to one another and are thus generally equivalent.


Scotland

In the
ancient universities of Scotland The ancient university, universities of Scotland () are medieval universities, medieval and renaissance universities which continue to exist in the present day. The majority of the ancient universities of the British Isles are located within Scotl ...
, the degree of Master of Arts is awarded in universities as a four-year undergraduate degree, see
Master of Arts (Scotland) The degree of Master of Arts (MA; , ) in Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba ) is a country that is part of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom ...
. The degree of Master of Arts is the first degree awarded in
arts The arts refers to the theory, human application and physical expression of creativity Creativity is a phenomenon whereby something somehow new and somehow valuable is formed. The created item may be intangible (such as an idea, a scienti ...

arts
,
humanities Humanities are List of academic disciplines, academic disciplines that study aspects of human society and culture. In the Renaissance, the term contrasted with Divinity (academic discipline), divinity and referred to what is now called classic ...

humanities
,
theology Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the divine Divinity or the divine are things that are either related to, devoted to, or proceeding from a deity.
, and
social sciences Social science is the Branches of science, branch of science devoted to the study of society, societies and the Social relation, relationships among individuals within those societies. The term was formerly used to refer to the field of socio ...

social sciences
. However, some universities in Scotland award the degree of
Master of Letters The Master of Letters degree (MLitt or LittM; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. T ...
(MLitt) to students in the
arts The arts refers to the theory, human application and physical expression of creativity Creativity is a phenomenon whereby something somehow new and somehow valuable is formed. The created item may be intangible (such as an idea, a scienti ...

arts
,
humanities Humanities are List of academic disciplines, academic disciplines that study aspects of human society and culture. In the Renaissance, the term contrasted with Divinity (academic discipline), divinity and referred to what is now called classic ...

humanities
,
divinity Divinity or the divine are things that are either related to, devoted to, or proceeding from a deity A deity or god is a supernatural being considered divinity, divine or sacred. The ''Oxford Dictionary of English'' defines deity as "a God (m ...
, and
social sciences Social science is the Branches of science, branch of science devoted to the study of society, societies and the Social relation, relationships among individuals within those societies. The term was formerly used to refer to the field of socio ...

social sciences
.


Oxford, Cambridge, Dublin (conferred)

At
Oxford Oxford () is a city in England. It is the county town and only city of Oxfordshire. In 2017, its population was estimated at 152,450. It is northwest of London, southeast of Birmingham, and northeast of Bristol. The city is home to the Unive ...
,
Cambridge Cambridge ( ) is a College town, university city and the county town of Cambridgeshire, England, on the River Cam approximately north of London. At the United Kingdom Census 2011, the population of the Cambridge built-up area (which is larger ...
and the
University of Dublin The University of Dublin ( ga, Ollscoil Átha Cliath), corporately designated the Chancellor, Doctors and Masters of the University of Dublin, is a university located in Dublin Dublin (; , or ) is the capital and largest city of Republ ...
, the title of Master of Arts is conferred after a certain number of years, without further examination, to those who have graduated as
Bachelor of Arts Bachelor of Arts (BA or AB; from the Latin ' or ') is the holder of a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate education, undergraduate program in the arts and sciences. A Bachelor of Arts degree course is generally completed in three or f ...
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 Oxford () is a city in England. It is the county town and only city of Oxfordshire. In 2017, its population was estimated at 152,450. It is northwest of London, southeast of Birmingham, and northeast of Bristol. The city is home to the Unive ...
, four years after completing a bachelor's degree, and
Cambridge Cambridge ( ) is a College town, university city and the county town of Cambridgeshire, England, on the River Cam approximately north of London. At the United Kingdom Census 2011, the population of the Cambridge built-up area (which is larger ...
, six years after the first term of study. It is also the case at the University of Dublin. 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. The MLitt is a research degree at the
University of Cambridge , mottoeng = Literal: From here, light and sacred draughts. Non literal: From this place, we gain enlightenment and precious knowledge. , established = , other_name = The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of ...
, where the
Master of Philosophy Master or masters may refer to: Ranks or titles * Ascended master, a term used in the Theosophical religious tradition to refer to spiritually enlightened beings who in past incarnations were ordinary humans * Grandmaster (chess), National Master, ...
(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.


=Confusion

= Research in 2000 by the universities watchdog, the
Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education Quality may refer to: Concepts *Quality (business), the ''non-inferiority'' or ''superiority'' of something *Quality (philosophy), an attribute or a property *Quality (physics), in response theory *Energy quality, used in various science discipli ...
, showed that two-thirds of employers were unaware that the Oxford and Cambridge MA did not represent any kind of post-graduate achievement. In February 2011, the Labour Member of Parliament
Chris Leslie Christopher Michael Leslie (born 28 June 1972) is a British politician who served as Member of Parliament (United Kingdom), Member of Parliament (MP) for Shipley (UK Parliament constituency), Shipley from 1997 United Kingdom general election, 1 ...
sponsored a
private member's bill A private member's bill in a parliamentary system A parliamentary system or parliamentary democracy is a system of democratic Democrat, Democrats, or Democratic may refer to: *A proponent of democracy Democracy ( gr, δημοκρατ ...
in Parliament, the Master's Degrees (Minimum Standards) Bill, 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. On 21 October 2011, the bill received its second reading, but it failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session, meaning it fell.


Oxford, Cambridge (earned)

A number of different master's degrees may be earned at Oxford and Cambridge. The most common, the Master of Philosophy degree (MPhil), is a two-year research degree. To prepare to graduate as a Master of Science (MSc) or a Master of Studies (MSt) takes only one year, both courses often combining some coursework with research. A Master of Letters (MLitt) is the holder of a pure research master's degree. More recently, Oxford and Cambridge offer the degree of Master of Business Administration. Master's degrees are generally offered without classification, although the top five percent may be deemed worthy of Distinction. Both universities also offer a variety of four-year undergraduate integrated master's degrees such as
MEng Meng may refer to: * Meng (surname) (孟), a Chinese surname * Master of Engineering (MEng or M.Eng.), an academic or professional master's degree in the field of engineering * , "M with hook", letter used in the International Phonetic Alphabet ** ...
or
MMathA Master of Mathematics (or MMath) degree Degree may refer to: As a unit of measurement * Degree symbol (°), a notation used in science, engineering, and mathematics * Degree (angle), a unit of angle measurement * Degree (temperature), any of ...
.


North America

In Canada and the United States, the Master of Arts (''Magister Artium'') and
Master of Science A Master of Science ( la, Magisterii Scientiae; abbreviated MS, M.S., MSc, M.Sc., SM, S.M., ScM or Sc.M.) is a master's degree A master's degree (from Latin ) is an academic degree awarded by University, universities or colleges upon completio ...
(''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. Admission to a master's program is normally contingent upon holding a
bachelor's degree A bachelor's degree (from Middle Latin Medieval Latin was the form of Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area ...
. Some programs provide for a joint bachelor's and master's after about five years. Some universities use the Latin degree names, such as ''Artium Magister'' (AM) or ''Scientiæ Magister'' (SM). For example,
Harvard University Harvard University is a Private university, private Ivy League research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Founded in 1636 as Harvard College and named for its first benefactor, the History of the Puritans in North America, Puritan cler ...

Harvard University
,
Dartmouth College Dartmouth College ( ) is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly t ...
, the
University of Chicago The University of Chicago (UChicago) is a private university, private research university in Chicago, Illinois. Founded in 1890, its main campus is located in Chicago's Hyde Park, Chicago, Hyde Park neighborhood. In Fall 2021, it enrolled 18,45 ...
,
MIT Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a private land-grant research university A research university is a university A university ( la, universitas, 'a whole') is an educational institution, institution of higher education, hi ...

MIT
, the
University of Pennsylvania The University of Pennsylvania (Penn or UPenn) is a in , Pennsylvania. The university, established as the College of Philadelphia in 1740, is one of the nine chartered prior to the . , Penn's founder and first president, advocated an edu ...

University of Pennsylvania
, and
Brown University Brown University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly two de ...

Brown University
use the abbreviations AM and SM for some of their master's degrees. 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 A thesis, or dissertation (abbreviated diss.), is a document submitted in support of candidature for an academic degree An academic degree is a qualification awarded to students upon successful completion of a course of study in higher ed ...
. 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 Harvard University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly tw ...

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.


References

{{DEFAULTSORT:Master of Arts Arts (postgraduate)