The master’s degree supplements an undergraduate degree (usually a bachelor’s degree ) and usually comprises two to four semesters (standard period of study) taking into account the previous study semesters . It can serve the scientific consolidation of the previous course or open up new areas of knowledge. In addition to successfully attending courses, a thesis, the master's thesis , must be written. In many countries (and sometimes also universities within a country) there are master’s degrees that vary in orientation (more application-oriented or more research-oriented), duration, admission requirements and structure.
The title of Master's degree as part of a new study structure was introduced in Europe through the Bologna Process . The academic (former) diploma degree corresponds to the current master’s degree with minor deductions (due to the lower number of semesters, nine for diploma and ten for bachelor and master’s).
The master’s degree is a professional qualification and entitles you to take up a number of different professional activities in business and science or to take up a postgraduate degree.
The master's degree in Germany
The Master as an academic degree of higher education ( universities , equivalent institutions , art and music schools , colleges awarded or Universities of Applied Sciences (HAW)). The traditional, single-stage degrees previously awarded by universities and colleges of equal status as well as art and music colleges are considered equivalent to the master’s degree. The Master gives the same authorizations as the previous diploma and master’s degrees from universities. According to the requirements of the federal states, a high technical and scientific level must be guaranteed in a master’s course, which must at least correspond to that of the diploma degrees introduced.
The master’s course is a course of study that is intended to enable academic work and methodology, impart theoretical-analytical skills and enable graduates to adapt to new conditions in professional life in an open and creative manner. The master’s degree is a professional qualification and entitles you to a subsequent doctorate. The universities (here: NRW) can make admission to the doctoral procedure dependent on further requirements (study and examination achievements) in their doctoral regulations.
The final examination includes the master's thesis , which proves that the author can independently work on a task from the respective subject area using scientific methods within a specified period. The fulfillment of specified requirements is checked by means of an accreditation .
Master’s courses can be assigned to four different profile types: more research-oriented , more application-oriented , artistic and teaching-related . The two internationally widespread profile types, more research-oriented and more application-oriented, cannot be precisely delimited from one another and are equally scientific. The assignment of a course to one of the two profile types refers exclusively to different focus areas and thus to relative differences between the various courses. Both profile types have the same value and are offered across universities. The artistic profile have master’s courses at art and music colleges. Master’s degree courses that convey the requirements for a teaching position have a teaching position-related profile .
The introduction of the Masters in Germany takes place within the framework of the Bologna Process . The introduction of the new courses was planned for 2010 and has largely been completed, with the exception of a few courses at art and music colleges as well as state and church degrees.
In the Federal Republic of Germany there are consecutive and advanced master’s courses:
- A consecutive master’s degree is basically based on a special bachelor’s degree. In this case, he can continue and deepen the bachelor's degree or expand it across disciplines. Since 2008, however, the structural requirements of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (KMK) have also anchored other master’s degree programs than consecutive degree programs, so that only the further education degree programs are delimited.
- Further education courses require qualified professional experience from i. d. Usually not less than a year ahead. The content of the continuing education course should take professional experience into account and build on it. Further education courses correspond in the requirements (clauses 1.3 and 1.4 of the resolution of the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of October 10, 2003 in the version dated September 18, 2008) to the consecutive Master’s courses and lead to the same qualification level and the same authorizations. Further education courses leading to a master’s degree were offered at some universities even before the introduction of the Bologna Process or before its impact on the respective traditional undergraduate courses.
In the past, the KMK's structural specifications also provided for so-called non-consecutive master’s courses, which, in contrast to the consecutive master’s courses, did not build on the previous bachelor’s course in terms of content. The non-consecutive courses were treated like advanced courses. Since 2008, the KMK has been assigning other master’s courses to the consecutive courses. However, this adjustment will only have an effect in the context of re-accreditations.
The standard period of study for a master’s degree is at least one and a maximum of two years. In the case of a consecutive course, the total standard period of study must not exceed five years, which corresponds to 300 ECTS points . Due to special organizational measures, shorter overall standard study periods are also possible in exceptional cases. Consecutive courses of study with a total standard period of study of up to six years can be set up at art and music colleges, which corresponds to 360 ECTS points.
The following figure shows some possible combinations of standard study periods for consecutive Bachelor and Master courses and contrasts them with the traditional diploma:
|1 year||2 years||3rd year||4th year||5th year|
6 semesters / 180 ECTS points (most common variant)
4 semesters / 120 ECTS points
7 semesters / 210 ECTS points (less common variant)
3 semesters / 90 ECTS points
8 semesters / 240 ECTS points (rare variant)
2 semesters / 60 ECTS points
approx. 8-10 semesters
approx. 8 semesters
Different degrees are permitted for consecutive and non-consecutive Master’s degrees. Universities are also allowed to award German degrees, e.g. B. Master of Science. However, universities are not permitted to mix German and English.
At some professional academies, a bachelor's degree with 210 ECTS points can be earned within three years. In some cases, this allows you to acquire the 300 ECTS points required for a Master’s degree within four years.
In general, according to the higher education laws of the federal states, academic degrees may only be used in the form stipulated by the award certificate or the examination regulations. For example, despite legal equality, a university graduate with a diploma may not instead hold a master’s degree or vice versa. A master’s degree may also not be awarded on the basis of a successfully completed diploma course, but requires additional studies in accordance with the framework requirements.
The designation is usually written in the Anglo-American style after the name and separated from it by a comma, e.g. Erika Mustermann , M. A.
In many federal states, the entry requirement for a master’s course is a university degree qualifying for a profession. Undergraduate courses that lead directly to a master’s degree are therefore mostly excluded. The universities must individually check whether a graduate is admitted to the master’s degree. The entry requirements are the subject of the accreditation. For admission to artistic master’s courses, special artistic aptitude must be proven in all cases.
Degree titles (consecutive master’s degrees)
In order to ensure the highest possible degree of transparency and clarity, the KMK has decided that only seven different qualifications are permitted for consecutive master’s courses. These are based on the content of the course. M. A. and M. Sc. are the most common qualifications.
Subject-specific additions are generally not permitted for the Master’s degree. The course “Master of… in…” is sometimes mentioned, but this is not the name of the master’s degree itself, which is determined by the respective examination regulations. The abbreviations for the master’s degrees are sometimes written according to the Anglo-Saxon model without points.
Since the limitation to a few admissible degrees was only subsequently decided by the KMK, different master’s degrees are still awarded in some courses. The adaptation to the current requirements takes place within the framework of the reaccreditation of the respective study programs. In the KMK's structural specifications in the version dated October 10, 2003, the qualifications M. A., M. Sc., M. Eng. and LL. M. as degrees for consecutive courses of study, in the version of September 22, 2005, the degrees M. F. A., M. Mus. and M. Ed. added.
Master of Arts (M.A.)
The Master of Arts is common in the humanities and social sciences and can be connected to a Bachelor of Arts (in special cases also to a Bachelor of Science). The Master of Arts is also awarded by art colleges in the field of performing arts and in artistically applied courses.
According to the decision of the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs , the Master of Arts is also awarded in Protestant or Catholic theology or religion, provided that it is not a teaching degree or an undergraduate course leading to a Magister Theologiae .
M. A. is also the abbreviation for the earlier degree Magister Artium, with which an undergraduate degree could be completed. This degree is equivalent to the master’s degree, but the degrees are not identical or interchangeable.
Master of Education (M. Ed.)
The teaching post can be based on elementary schools, secondary schools and secondary schools, grammar schools and comprehensive schools, special schools and vocational colleges or vocational schools. The master will i. d. Usually awarded following a two-year course of study. It can be connected to a Bachelor of Education, a Bachelor of Science, a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Engineering.
In 2005, the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (KMK) decided on requirements for the mutual recognition of Bachelor's and Master's degrees in courses that convey the educational requirements for a teaching post.
In many federal states, the Master of Education is on an equal footing with the First State Examination and, if necessary, enables access to legal clerkship or, where this is not necessary, direct access to teaching. In Bavaria, for example, the first state examination for a teaching post at public schools is still the sole requirement for the traineeship or preparatory service. However, the Master of Education cannot be obtained in every federal state and not every subject or every combination of subjects is suitable for every type of school (e.g. Latin is only taught at grammar schools and comprehensive schools).
Master of Engineering (M. Eng.)
Master of Fine Arts (M. F. A.)
The Master of Fine Arts is awarded for degrees in the field of fine arts , for example fine arts , theater studies , photography or drawing. Most of them are degrees from art schools. Entry requirement is i. d. R. a Bachelor of Fine Arts. However, the Master of Arts is often awarded in artistically applied courses and performing arts.
Master of Laws (LL. M.)
The Master of Laws is awarded in law courses. Entry requirement is i. d. Either a Bachelor of Laws , the First State Examination in Law or one of the traditional academic degrees of Diplom-Jurist (awarded after the First State Examination) and Diplom-Wirtschaftsjurist (FH).
The first and second state examinations are still prerequisites for acquiring the qualification for judicial office ( DRiG ) and thus for exercising the regulated professions ( lawyer , public prosecutor , judge, etc.). The only exception is for university professors ( DRiG).
Master of Music (M. Mus.)
The Master of Music is awarded for degrees in the field of music , i. d. R. from conservatoires. Entry requirement is i. d. R. a Bachelor of Music.
Master of Science (M. Sc.)
The Master of Science (also: M. S. , M. Sc. Or MSc abbreviated) is common in mathematics , computer science and the natural sciences . Depending on the content of the course, the Master of Science can also be awarded in economics and engineering . The latter is particularly the case at (technical) universities, while universities of applied sciences prefer to award the Master of Engineering in engineering. It can also be awarded in courses of study in psychology and medicine that do not end with the state examination.
The Master of Science can be followed by a Bachelor of Science. In special cases, a previous Bachelor of Arts, a Bachelor of Engineering or a diploma course in the same subject can also be recognized as an entry requirement.
Degree titles (advanced and non-consecutive master’s degrees)
Access to civil service careers
The Conference of Ministers of the Interior and the Conference of Ministers of Education have agreed to assign bachelor's degrees (from universities and technical colleges) to careers in the higher service and master’s degrees (from universities and universities of applied sciences) to careers in higher service.
History: With regard to the master’s degrees, a distinction should initially be made between master’s degrees at universities and technical colleges. The equivalence and thus the access to the higher service in the public service should be formally determined by a separate aptitude test within the framework of the accreditation of the university of applied sciences courses. In the meantime, all university courses have been formally accredited and a corresponding agreement (“Access to higher service careers through a master’s degree at universities of applied sciences”) by resolutions of the Conference of Ministers of Education of May 24, 2002 and the Conference of Ministers of the Interior of June 6, 2002 on equivalence was the result.
Based on experience with the accreditation of master’s degrees from universities of applied sciences, it was decided at the conference of ministers of education on September 20, 2007 and the conference of interior ministers on December 7, 2007 to dispense with a separate aptitude test as part of the accreditation and thus all master’s graduates, regardless of whether they have their master’s have acquired at a technical college or university to open up access to the higher service in the civil service career. The agreement from 2002 was replaced on January 1, 2008 by the amended agreement “Access to careers in higher service through a master's degree at universities of applied sciences”.
Eligibility for doctoral studies
For master’s degrees, the KMK's structural requirements stipulate that they open up access to a doctorate - regardless of whether they were acquired in a one-year or two-year master’s course at a university or equivalent university or at a technical college. The master’s degree is the new standard requirement for a doctorate. Master’s degrees from colleges of art and music only open access to a doctorate insofar as the completion of the master’s degree provides an adequate scientific qualification for a doctoral project.
In some federal states, universities can make admission to the doctoral procedure dependent on additional requirements (e.g. in North Rhine-Westphalia) in their doctorate regulations. In most countries, however, this is not the case (e.g. Baden-Württemberg or Bavaria).
Holders of a bachelor's degree acquired in Germany or abroad, on the other hand, can only be admitted directly to a doctoral program in an aptitude test in exceptional cases. The universities regulate access and the design of the aptitude assessment procedure and, if necessary, cooperation with universities of applied sciences in their doctoral regulations.
The Master in Austria
In Austria , master's degrees are awarded by public and private universities , universities of applied sciences and (until 2012 and under the name of " university-level courses ") by private providers. The courses of study can be research-oriented or application-oriented. After a bachelor's degree, the effort must correspond to at least 120 ECTS points . The newly introduced Master’s, which are based on previous Bachelor’s programs, replace the previous diploma’s programs.
The master’s degrees in further education (university courses according to Section 58 of the Universities Act 2002, courses of a university character according to Section 28 of the University Studies Act, courses for further education according to Section 9 (2) of the University of Applied Sciences Studies Act and university courses according to Section 39 (2) of the University of Applied Sciences Act 2005) are not identical to the master’s degrees due to the completion of a regular degree (master’s degree), even if some of them have the same wording.
Academic degrees in the regular (consecutive) master’s programs
Depending on the institution and the time of graduation, there are a number of different degrees for master's level studies.
Traditional degrees (Magister degrees)
The first studies at the master's level, introduced with the University Studies Act 1997, were called master ’s studies and, like the traditional diploma’s studies, were completed with the academic degrees of master’s degree or qualified engineer, etc. This also applied to university of applied sciences courses whose degrees were given the addition "(FH)". Some of the most commonly awarded degrees:
- Dipl.-Ing. or DI (graduate engineer, only for engineering courses)
- Mag. Art. (Magister artium, Master of Arts)
- Mag. Iur. (Magister / Magistra iuris, Magister / Magistra of Law)
- Mag. Phil. (Magister / Magistra philosophiae, Magister / Magistra of Philosophy)
- Mag. Rer. nat. (Magister / Magistra rerum naturalium, Magister / Magistra of Natural Science)
- Mag. Rer. soc. oec. (Magister / Magistra rerum socialium oeconomicarumque, Magister / Magistra of Social and Economic Sciences)
Names of the master’s degrees
In 2006, the degrees were amended by amendments to the 2002 University Act and the 1993 University of Applied Sciences Studies Act. Newly established courses are called “master’s studies”, the designation “master” or - optionally, but only in technical subjects - “qualified engineer” are permitted.
Some of the most commonly awarded degrees:
- LL. M. or LLM (Legum Magister / Magistra)
- M. A. or MA (Master of Arts)
- M. Sc. or MSc (Master of Science)
Master's degrees in further education
In the area of further education (university courses, courses for further education at universities of applied sciences, courses of a university character ), academic degrees denominated in "Magistra" or "Magister" were never provided. For the first time, the 1997 University Studies Act provided for the award of master’s degrees for these offers. In order to gain access to these "extraordinary" studies, a completed degree is not required; mostly only several years of professional experience or the positive completion of an entrance examination are required. The study effort for an MBA course is usually 60 to 90 ECTS points, i.e. H. Without a previous study, the total effort for such a master’s degree is around 60 to 90 ECTS. In comparison, a typical bachelor's degree, which is the entry requirement for a "proper" master's degree, requires at least 180 ECTS. The master’s degrees in further education are therefore not identical to the master’s degrees due to the completion of regular studies (master’s studies), even if their titles have partly the same wording. For example, admission to a doctoral program is generally not possible with such master’s degrees.
The Master in Switzerland
In the education system in Switzerland there are also consecutive courses at the master’s level, which can be research-oriented or application-oriented. This also includes degrees in disciplines that have not been converted to the Bachelor / Master system in Germany, such as medicine or law. The following degrees are awarded in such courses:
- MA (Master of Arts)
- MEng (Master of Engineering)
- MLaw (Master of Law)
- MMed (Master of Medicine)
- MSc (Master of Science)
- MTh (Master of Theology)
In addition, there are so-called postgraduate courses, which are included in the field of continuing academic education. Such courses are offered at both Swiss universities and universities of applied sciences. If such a postgraduate course corresponds to a consecutive course, a master’s degree can be awarded to graduates of such a course. In most fields of study, this is the degree of Master of Advanced Studies (MAS) stating the subject. An exception are degrees in business administration that lead to the degree Master of Business Administration (MBA) or Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) .
In Switzerland , the University Commission has decided to enable the academic degrees licentiate and various diplomas to be changed to the names to be introduced by 2010 at the request of the graduate . They are legally equivalent anyway, but may not be mixed up in correspondence.
Anyone who completed a course of study according to the (old) licentiate regulations may also call themselves MA or Master of Arts, i.e. use both titles. The universities issue appropriate papers. However, both titles are not allowed, i.e. lic. and Master of Arts (MA) in one and the same document, otherwise the impression could be given that one has acquired several titles.
Universities of applied sciences in Switzerland have been authorized to offer Masters courses since 2008.
Master's degrees can also be obtained from private educational institutions. Individuals are accredited under Dutch law by the Dutch Validation Council or its successor organization, the Dutch Quality Agency (NQA) (such as the “Master of Arts” from the Center for Agogik, Basel), MBA programs are often from FIBAA , AACSB or the EQUIS .
The Masters in Great Britain
In Great Britain, the usual full-time master’s program lasts one to two years, but there is no binding state definition for master’s programs. The respective university is responsible for the selection of students and the recognition of any previous studies.
In Great Britain a broad distinction is made between so-called Taught Masters and Research Masters. The curriculum of a Taught Masters consists of a number of courses and, after completing these courses, ends with the writing of a thesis (dissertation) . The most common academic degrees for such courses are MA (Master of Arts) and MSc (Master of Science) , but there are also a number of other Master's degrees.
Overall, only 12 percent of Bachelor graduates in Great Britain go straight to a Master’s degree. The master’s degree itself can be a professional qualification, or alternatively, graduates can opt for a so-called “research master”. Research Master Degrees are predominantly research courses and contain little or no mandatory courses. The thesis , on the other hand, is more extensive. Common academic degrees for such courses are MPhil ( Master of Philosophy ) , MLitt ( Master of Letters ) and MRes (Master of Research) .
The International Master (abbreviated: IntM or IM) is awarded by some universities as part of an Erasmus Mundus Joint Master's program. In comparison to other degrees, the designation International Master is intended to signal that the respective degree has taken place at two or more universities in different countries of the European Union. These are not optional semesters abroad, but academic mobility is an integral part of the course and the academic degree is awarded jointly as a joint degree by all participating universities. The regular course duration is two years in order to achieve the required number of 120 ECTS.
The so-called Integrated Master's Degrees are a relatively new form of the Master's Degree . These are acquired in four to five years in a single, continuous course of study after leaving school, comparable to a diploma course . They are mainly offered in technical and scientific subjects; some common degrees are MEng (Master of Engineering) , MMath (Master of Mathematics) , MPhys (Master of Physics) and MPharm (Master of Pharmacy) .
In some cases the grade designations are misleading. Some postgraduate studies at the Master’s level lead to a “Bachelor” degree, e.g. B. the Bachelor of Philosophy from Oxford University and the Bachelor of Architecture. Despite this terminology, such degrees are treated like Masters degrees in the English professional and academic world. Conversely, a Master of Arts from Oxford or Cambridge (also Dublin ) is not a master’s degree but a bachelor’s degree: Bachelor students from these universities are initially awarded a bachelor’s degree after completing their degree, but can do so after a set waiting period of several Years without further examinations can be converted into a Master of Arts . However, the degree is still regarded as a bachelor's degree in the professional and university world (where this special feature is widely known). "Real" master's degrees are also available at these universities, but these are not titled as Master of Arts , but given different designations, e.g. B. Master of Philosophy or Master of Studies , so that there is no risk of confusion.
Similarly, at the Scottish “ancient universities” in the humanities, the Master of Arts is awarded as the first academic degree after four years of study.
Usually, there are only three grades in the British master’s program :
- Pass ("Passed"): From a score of 50%. Comparable to rite .
- Merit ("with distinction"): From a score of 60%. Comparable to cum laude .
- Distinction ("with special distinction"): From a score of 70%. Comparable to summa cum laude .
However, especially at top English universities such as Oxford, Cambridge or LSE, even the merit grade is sometimes difficult to achieve. Scores of over 80% are (similar to the German law course) mostly considered to be practically unattainable.
The Masters in the United States and Canada
Structure, orientation, duration and admission requirements for the Master’s degree can vary widely between Canadian provinces or US states and even within a North American university . In Canada , in contrast to the United States, practically all universities are subject to a uniform state quality control system, most of them are members of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) .
In order to ensure comparability and creditability, both the university ranking and the course system with number ranges ( course codes ) (see Transcript of Records ) are consistent evaluation systems that are used by universities and employers to determine the importance of a degree and thus the skills to be evaluated by students or graduates.
In general, a distinction can be made between the more frequent, professionally-oriented master’s courses ( non- thesis or paper / essay ) with a duration of one to two years and the rarer research-oriented master’s courses ( thesis ) with a duration of two to three years.
Every year, the university ranking system for each department / institute of a university assesses the quality of the teaching staff, the teaching, the range of courses and the scientific output . For example, in a long-term comparison of the QS World University Rankings, which is recognized in many places, the US elite University Harvard University and the Canadian top research institution McGill University are each in first place in their home country, published by US News & World Report as the World's best Universities . The rankings published by US News & World Report since 1983 are considered to be the most influential of all rankings, particularly in the United States and Canada.
The standardized course number range system ( course codes within a university) provides information on the degree of difficulty ( course level ) per credit . For master’s courses, courses can be B. 5000, 6000 and in the case of a three-year top research master ( thesis ) even a Ph.D. / 7000 level are required. The officially announced course requirements for a Master’s degree program ( course selection ) generally represent the minimum requirements . Depending on the examination regulations , individual institutes within a university can also autonomously determine which performance level requirement ( course level ) is actually per Master’s degree program What students often only learn after their application during the admissions interview has to be fulfilled. For example, a two-year master’s course offered at a certain university can officially include courses and theses based on e.g. B. require 5000 and 6000 performance levels, the same course of study at a top research institute within this university but courses at Ph.D./7000 level as well as a Ph.D. format thesis program similar to the doctoral process , whereby the officially stated standard study time by up to a year can be exceeded. In the latter case (also called Ph.D.1 equivalent Master ), the degree of up to one to two years can be credited towards a subsequent three to five year Ph.D. degree.
The admission requirement is closely related to the university ranking of the selected university or department / institute as well as the actual performance level requirement (course level) for the courses or the thesis. In the case of a master’s degree at a conventional university, access can be gained by completing a bachelor’s degree with a three-year study period, in the case of a Ph.D.1 equivalent master’s degree from an international top research institution by completing a consecutive Bachelor with Honors / Baccalaureatus Cum Honore (consisting of a three-year Bachelor and a one to two-year doctorate successive thesis program based on this) or a non-North American Master / Maîtrise / Magister / Diploma . Admission restrictions can also be implemented by evaluating scientific references , letters of motivation , thesis proposals and using high numerus clausus and scientific, technical and linguistic aptitude tests .
In contrast to the European ECTS- power point of North American account credit no working outside the classroom (z. B. learning, pre and post-processing time), which is connected to an average Seminar and optionally substituted with one Thesis. In order to be able to calculate the average total working time, the performance level (see also course level in the Transcript of Records ) and the university ranking of the institution at which it is awarded are offset for each credit . B. 45 credits acquired for a master’s (thesis) at an average performance level at a conventional university, the attendance time allocated to the credits (on-campus and, if applicable, online) should amount to z. B. 2700 hours correspond to the average total working time. If, on the other hand, the same number of credits is documented through labor-intensive seminars at the highest level of performance (e.g. Ph.D./7000) and a research-intensive Ph.D. format thesis at a top-ranked top research institution, the offsetting process may result an average total working time of 4500 hours (45 credits = 75 credit equivalent ). This evaluation system is intended to simplify the comparison and crediting of course achievements.
Full-time students have full-time classes all day. As a rule, presence and absence are strictly controlled. The tuition fee is not insignificant in many places.
The Master in the Czech Republic
After a successful master’s degree in the humanities , social sciences , law and natural sciences as well as the arts , you can obtain the academic degree Mgr. - Magister (Czech: magistr , Slovak: magister ). The Czech master’s degree is prefixed to the name: Mgr. Max Mustermann.
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