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A Master of Arts ( la, Magister Artium or ''Artium Magister''; abbreviated MA, M.A., AM, or A.M.) is the holder of a
master's degree A master's degree (from Latin ) is an academic degree awarded by 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 professional practice.
awarded by
universities A university () is an institution of higher (or tertiary) education and research which awards academic degrees in several academic disciplines. Universities typically offer both undergraduate and postgraduate programs. In the United State ...
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 in the field of science awarded by universities in many countries or a person holding such a degree. In contrast t ...
. Those admitted to the degree have typically studied subjects within the scope of the
humanities Humanities are academic disciplines that study aspects of human society and culture. In the Renaissance, the term contrasted with divinity and referred to what is now called classics, the main area of secular study in universities at t ...
and social sciences, such as history,
literature Literature 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 expanded to ...
, languages,
linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It is called a scientific study because it entails a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise analysis of all aspects of language, particularly its nature and structure. Ling ...
,
public administration Public Administration (a form of governance) or Public Policy and Administration (an academic discipline) is the implementation of public policy, administration of government establishment ( public governance), management of non-profit es ...
,
political science Political science is the scientific study of politics. It is a social science dealing with systems of governance and power, and the analysis of political activities, political thought, political behavior, and associated constitutions and ...
, communication studies, law or
diplomacy Diplomacy comprises spoken or written communication by representatives of states (such as leaders and diplomats) intended to influence events in the international system.Ronald Peter Barston, ''Modern diplomacy'', Pearson Education, 2006, p. ...
; 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 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 = Coat of Arms , latin_name = Universitas magistrorum et scholarium Parisiensis , motto = ''Hic et ubique terrarum'' (Latin) , mottoeng = Here and a ...
, designed to produce "masters" who were graduate teachers of their subjects.


Europe


Czech Republic and Slovakia

Like all EU member states, Czech Republic and Slovakia follow the Bologna Process. Czech Republic and Slovakia both award two different types of Master's degrees; both award a title of Mgr. or Ing. to be used before the name. Prior to reforms for compliance with the Bologna process, a Master's degree could only be obtained after 5 years of uninterrupted study. Under the new system, it takes only 2 years but requires a previously completed 3-year bachelor's program (a Bc. title). Writing a thesis (in both master's and bachelor's programs) and passing final exams are necessary to obtain the degree. It is mostly the case that the final exams cover the main study areas of the whole study program, i.e. a student is required to prove their knowledge in the subjects they attended during the 2 resp. 3 years of their study. Exams also include the defence of a thesis before an academic board. Ing. (Engineer) degrees are usually awarded for Master's degrees achieved in the Natural Sciences or Mathematics-heavy study programmes, whereas an Mgr. (Magister) is generally awarded for Master's studies in social sciences, humanities and the arts.


Germany

In Germany, the Master of Arts degree was called in
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through ...
''Magister Artium''. This degree, which usually required five years of studies, existed in the Holy Roman Empire and its successors, including the
German Empire The German Empire (),Herbert Tuttle wrote in September 1881 that the term "Reich" does not literally connote an empire as has been commonly assumed by English-speaking people. The term literally denotes an empire – particularly a hereditary ...
and the
Federal Republic of Germany Germany,, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central Europe. It is the second most populous country in Europe after Russia, and the most populous member state of the European Union. Germany is situated between ...
, but not in the former
East Germany East Germany, officially the German Democratic Republic (GDR; german: Deutsche Demokratische Republik, , DDR, ), was a country that existed from its creation on 7 October 1949 until German reunification, its dissolution on 3 October 1990. In t ...
where all degree courses led to a '' Diplom''. Traditional ''Magister'' degrees are granted in
social science Social science is one of the branches of science, devoted to the study of societies and the relationships among individuals within those societies. The term was formerly used to refer to the field of sociology, the original "science of s ...
s and most of the humanities ( International Business, Affairs, European Studies and
Economics Economics () is the social science that studies the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. Economics focuses on the behaviour and interactions of economic agents and how economies work. Microeconomics anal ...
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'' 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, 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 behind their name, in accordance with the new standard ('MA' or 'MSc'). A Master's degree can take 1 or 2 years.


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 ( : theses), or dissertation (abbreviated diss.), is a document submitted in support of candidature for an academic degree or professional qualification presenting the author's research and findings.International Standard ISO 7144 ...
is required. All master's degrees in Poland qualify for a
doctorate A doctorate (from Latin ''docere'', "to teach"), doctor's degree (from Latin ''doctor'', "teacher"), or doctoral degree is an academic degree awarded by universities and some other educational institutions, derived from the ancient formalism ''l ...
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). 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 The Master of Studies or Master in Studies (M.St. or MSt; ) is a postgraduate degree at the University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, University of St Andrews, the Australian National University, University of Dublin and the University of ...
(MSt), and the Bachelor of Civil Law (BCL) at
Oxford Oxford () is a city in England. It is the county town and only city of Oxfordshire. In 2020, its population was estimated at 151,584. It is north-west of London, south-east of Birmingham and north-east of Bristol. The city is home to the ...
. All of these degrees are considered substitutes to one another and are thus generally equivalent.


Scotland

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 degree of Master of Arts is the first degree awarded in arts,
humanities Humanities are academic disciplines that study aspects of human society and culture. In the Renaissance, the term contrasted with divinity and referred to what is now called classics, the main area of secular study in universities at t ...
,
theology Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the divine and, more broadly, of religious belief. It is taught as an academic discipline, typically in universities and seminaries. It occupies itself with the unique content of analyzing th ...
, and social sciences. However, some universities in Scotland award the degree of Master of Letters (MLitt) to students in the arts,
humanities Humanities are academic disciplines that study aspects of human society and culture. In the Renaissance, the term contrasted with divinity and referred to what is now called classics, the main area of secular study in universities at t ...
,
divinity Divinity or the divine are things that are either related to, devoted to, or proceeding from a deity.divine< ...
, and 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 2020, its population was estimated at 151,584. It is north-west of London, south-east of Birmingham and north-east of Bristol. The city is home to the ...
,
Cambridge Cambridge ( ) is a university city and the county town in Cambridgeshire, England. It is located on the River Cam approximately north of London. As of the 2021 United Kingdom census, the population of Cambridge was 145,700. Cambridge bec ...
and the University of Dublin, 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 a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate program in the arts, or, in some cases, other disciplines. A Bachelor of Arts degree course is generally completed in three or four yea ...
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 2020, its population was estimated at 151,584. It is north-west of London, south-east of Birmingham and north-east of Bristol. The city is home to the ...
, four years after completing a bachelor's degree, and
Cambridge Cambridge ( ) is a university city and the county town in Cambridgeshire, England. It is located on the River Cam approximately north of London. As of the 2021 United Kingdom census, the population of Cambridge was 145,700. Cambridge bec ...
, 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, 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.


=Confusion

= Research in 2000 by the universities watchdog, the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, 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 sponsored a private member's bill 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. In comparison to the LLM at Cambridge, Oxford offers two master's degrees in law depending on the jurisdictional background of the student. The degree of Bachelor of Civil Law (BCL) is for those from a common law background, whilst the more recent Magister Juris is for those from civil law jurisdictions. 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 or MMath.


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 in the field of science awarded by universities in many countries or a person holding such a degree. In contrast t ...
(''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 ''baccalaureus'') or baccalaureate (from Modern Latin ''baccalaureatus'') is an undergraduate academic degree awarded by colleges and universities upon completion of a course of study lasting three to si ...
. 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 Ivy League research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Founded in 1636 as Harvard College and named for its first benefactor, the Puritan clergyman John Harvard, it is the oldest institution of highe ...
, Dartmouth College, the University of Chicago, MIT, the
University of Pennsylvania The University of Pennsylvania (also known as Penn or UPenn) is a Private university, private research university in Philadelphia. It is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and is ranked among the highest- ...
, and 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 ( : theses), or dissertation (abbreviated diss.), is a document submitted in support of candidature for an academic degree or professional qualification presenting the author's research and findings.International Standard ISO 7144 ...
. 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 McGill is a surname of Scottish and Irish origin, from which the names of many places and organizations are derived. It may refer to: People * McGill (surname) (including a list of individuals with the surname) * McGill family (Monrovia), a promin ...
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)