Talk:Master's degree

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Architecture in Italy[edit]

I've deleted Architecture from the Italian degrees that use the old 5 year system. Architecture faculties in Italy have adopted the 3+2 scheme, offering both the Laurea Triennale (3 year, Bachelor's equivalent) and Laurea Magistrale (2 extra years, Master's equivalent). There is still one course with the old 5 year system in Ingegneria Edile / Architettura but it is to be considered an exception.

AntonioJohn (talk) 01:26, 23 February 2012 (UTC)

Clean-up Move[edit]

I'm going to separate this page into four others, if that's alright with everyone:
1. General Master's Degree page (this)
2. North America Master's Degree page
3. European (including UK) Master's Degree page
4. Non-Euroamerican Master's Degree page

Let me know, I'll wait a couple days. NickdelaG

Some confusion about Master of Studies?[edit]

A MSt article was created with the following content.

A Master of Studies (M.St) is an academic degree usually awarded for completion of a postgraduate or graduate course of one years duration.

If this content is real and verifiable it should be entered into an article like this one (Master's degree). Hu 03:06, 20 December 2005 (UTC)

Why would somebody say, "If this content is real and verifiable..."? Is there any reason why one might doubt the existence of the degree of Master of Studies? The "content" is just as "real and verifiable" as the information provided about all the other kinds of masters/master's degrees. --Oxonian2006 16:13, 29 May 2006 (UTC)

Pass, Merit, Distinction[edit]

In the University of London (one of my own universities) 60% will get you a Pass and no more! 65% is the requirement for a Merit.

ok... I think it's better as it is now then - with no mention of percentages. Leaving it so that it said 60%=merit, when at some universities (e.g. Oxford) anything below 60% is in fact a fail, would be misleading.--Oxonian2006 16:01, 29 May 2006 (UTC)
Practice differs widely across the University of London. Some colleges don't offer the merit at all, others offer it at 60%, others at 65%.
A brief, not terribly representative sample, of universities across England (the distinction is due to the returns, also these may not apply to all degrees at the individual institutions) shows 50% to be the most common pass and 70% the most common distinction. The Merit looks all over the place. Timrollpickering 12:37, 18 June 2006 (UTC)


In Finland at least, there are two kinds at of basic university degrees: the lower and the upper unversity degrees. The lower ones are considered equivalent to a Bachelor's degree, and the upper ones to a Master's degree. All students are admitted to study for the upper degree, and only a minority ever take the lower one. Thus, in Finland, Master's is not considered a graduate degree. I have a faint recollection that the other Fenno-Scandic countries have similar systems. (Of course, the proposed EU-wide degree harmonization effort will change this in the future.)

The defined optimal study time for the lower degree is three years after admittance, and for the upper degree, five years after admittance (including any lower degree taken during this time). However, since Finnish university studies are very liberal as to when and how much to study, study times vary a lot; an upper degree after three years or after eight years is not unheard-of.

In Finland, the first post-graduate degree is called a Licentiate degree (generally one to three years after admittance to post-graduate studies, i.e., after Master's).

AJK 09:26, 18 Sep 2003 (UTC)

Masters not Master's[edit]

Wow, is that embarrassing! Masters not Master’s!

Re: Masters not Master's
Looking for information on why it's listed as Masters and not Master's on the Master's degree page--the dictionary lists it as Master's degree and I'm unsure why it's been changed here.blodulv 19:11, 7 November 2005 (UTC)
Masters or Master's again!
I had always thought it was a master's degree, i.e. the degree held by a master, or masters' degrees, i.e. the degrees held by masters. Is it not, anyway, a colloquial form of "the degree of Master of Something"? E.g. "John is at Oxford doing his master's", meaning, "John is at Oxford reading for the degree of Master of Philosophy". I would favour "Master's degree" or "Masters' degrees". Does it really matter, though? --Oxonian2006 16:13, 29 May 2006 (UTC)
Incidentally, uses "master's". -- Nicknz 03:01, 27 October 2006 (UTC)
Shouldn't it be capitalized? As in "I have a Master's degree in Philosophy." { 04:43, 7 November 2006 (UTC)}
No. That's a generic use of the word. However, "I completed my Master of Arts degree in 1970" is correct. -- Donald Albury 14:18, 7 November 2006 (UTC)
I was looking in my Examination Decrees and Regulations (Oxford) recently and I saw a reference to Master Degree(s). E.g., "John has gone to Lancaster to study for a master degree", or, "Does he have a master degree?", or, "Candidates will be expected to have completed a master degree in a relevant discipline". (It may then be a matter of preference whether one writes, Master Degree, master degree, or Master degree, but probably not, master Degree. Currently it is fashionable, at least in English universities, to use the fewest capital letters necessary, e.g., "the queen", "the duke of York", and I have even seen "christian".)
By the way, if one wants to be pedantic, would it not be correct to say, "The degree of Master of Arts was conferred upon me in 1970", or, "I was awarded the degree of MA", or even, "I incepted (as a master) in the Faculty of Arts in 1970"? Otherwise, "I completed the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in 1970", on the basis that the degree is entered, or is conferred upon one, at a point time and is not a process that is started and completed (in contrast with the requirements for the degree).--Oxonian2006 21:10, 24 February 2007 (UTC)

History section?[edit]

It might be interesting to add a section about the origin of the term "Master's degree". I have heard the following, but have little solid evidence for it; does anyone think it's worth investigating further?

The story I've heard is that the term originated in the middle ages in the way technical training was done in guilds. Tradesmen began as apprentices, studying under a master. After a certain amount of training, they were able to work without supervision as a journeyman, and would travel around seeking work. Before an experienced journeyman could establish his own workshop, he would have to prove mastery of the craft, by being examined by guild masters and producing a masterpiece.

One reference that supports this story is at

-- Lucasb 2005-06-18

Question about "professional Master's degree"[edit]

I'm curious about an earlier version of the US section on master's degrees which was titled "professional master's". Is there a differentiation in Europe between a professional degree and something else? Between my wife and myself we have two master's and a doctorate, and we're not aware of such a differntiation in the US. If this does exist in Europe, perhaps there should be some mention in the US section about why, or if, it does not exist on this side of the Atlantic.

Carl 02:38, 9 November 2005 (UTC)

Yes, there is a differentiation in (parts of) Europe between a professional degree and an "academic" Master's degree. European professional master's degrees are terminal degrees in the sense that they are generally not used as an intermediate step to the doctorate degree in the field. However, there are some exceptions from this rule, but not in every european country.
I thought this differentiation exist also in the US, (see: Professional Master's degree) but it's maybe not so strict. (Or the wikipedia article is simply not true!)
The term for both types of degrees vary from country to country. Professional Master is the title in the Netherlands (Perhaps also in Belgium - but i'm not sure.) In Germany a consecutive Master is an "academic" Master's degree. (The title of such degree includes in every case(!) the words of science, of arts, of law, or of engineering. - examles: Master of Arts in Business Administration; Master of Science in Information Technology)
A German Professional Master is called anwedungsorientierter Weiterbildungs-Master (applied oriented further education Master) and the title of such degree does not include the words of science, of arts, of law, or of engineering - examles: Master of Business Administration; Master of Information Technology. In Austria a Master's degree, granted after graduation from a so called Universitätslehrgang is the equivalent to a Professional Master's degree. The Swiss counterpart to the Austrian Universitätslehrgang is the so called Nachdiplomstudiengang. In both countries these Master's are also characterized as "applied oriented", like in Germany. This differentiation exist also in other European countries, but i don't know the used terms there. (My posting applies only to the new degrees, based on the Bologna process. The situation with the "old" degrees is more complex.)
That is not correct. In Germany and by 2007, there've been only one kind of level in master degrees, they are all equal in academic and scientific level. "Stärker anwendungsorientiert" is only a profile of studies among others, and can leads to a degree including the words of science, of arts, of law, or of engineering as other master degrees. -- (talk) 17:38, 6 December 2007 (UTC)
I don't know exactly why these two types of Master's exist in Europe. Perhaps because of the structure of typical European doctoral degrees? A European Doctorate is a pure research degree with very few or even without any courses.
This type of doctoral degree needs maybe a special type of Master's degree (the so called "academic" Master's) to be actually equivalent to the different structured typical US doctoral degree. But that's pure speculation! In fact, i don't know.
I believe that the two different degree types rise from the background of the so called "dual model of higher education", where the institutions of higher education are divided into Polytechnics (German Fachhochschulen, Finnish Ammattikorkeakoulu) and universities. The difference between the two types is that the Polytechnics are not supposed to pursue original research and thus cannot award doctorates. On the other hand, in the dual model the universities are research institutions, where the research and teaching should be intertwined closely after the Humboldtian ideal of university education. (The difference is about the same as between University of California and California State University systems.) Consequently, only universities award doctorates. The "professional master's degrees" are, at least in Finland, second-cycle degrees from polytechnics. However, the vast majority of all university students leave the university as masters, but they have the qualification to go on to the doctorate, if they wish and their situation permits it. --MPorciusCato 08:23, 5 January 2007 (UTC)
For germany, this is outdated and doesn't give back correctly the current situation. Both the Fachhochschule and the Universität are universities (Hochschulen) and award the same academic level master degrees (In contrast, the formerly diploma was not the same academic level, and differed in concept and years of study). They both need to do research. The university laws of the german states say, that Universität focuses on basic reasearch and Fachhochschule on applied research. -- (talk) 17:38, 6 December 2007 (UTC)

I really haven't heard the term "Professional Master's Degree" used in the areas I've been in (or my wife). I have an MPH (as well as an MD), my wife has an MS... the MPH can be a terminal degree or it can be the first step towards a PhD in Public Health or a DrPH... Doctor of Public Health (the former being more academically oriented... more likely to be for someone who plans to teach). I wonder if the terms "terminal degree" and "professional Master's degree" might be used interchangeably. In any case, I believe that they're just informal descriptive terms here in the U.S.

Carl 02:38, 24 November 2005 (UTC)

Yes, "terminal master's degree" and "professional master's degree" can be used interchangeably (although, not all professional master's degrees are terminal ones). The U.S. Department of State uses the term professional master's degree to describe a variety of terminal master's programs that are designed to train people for specific professions (MBA, Master of Library Science, Master of Architecture, etc). [1] Darkcore 06:43, 24 November 2005 (UTC)

Professional Science Master's Degree[edit]

What about this new effort by the Sloan Foundation? "Sloan model for Professional Science Master's Degree" programs I Google-searched this and found that many universities in the U.S. are establishing and expanding these programs. I think this may deserve a seperate article with a link from this article. Does anyone have any comments or suggestions? Streltzer 17:11, 21 August 2006 (UTC)

See recent Science Magazine article [2] about these programs and their development at United States colleges and universities. Streltzer 21:27, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

There are two masters in Spain, the official and unofficial. The official will lead to a doctorate degree, while the unoffical is for proffesional purposes. (talk) 07:19, 9 November 2009 (UTC)


I'd love to see this article get under control, which it isn't anywhere near right now. But, I figure as soon as I start, the complaining will begin. So discuss here first. My first suggestion is that we should not list every abbreviation known to man and break it up into two section, the first discussing academic masters and the second listing professional masters. From there, I think anyone who wants a list of every such degree can use Category:Master's degrees. Please discuss. -James Howard (talk/web) 23:45, 11 January 2006 (UTC)

I agree, we should not list every abbreviation known. However, you will already find an article about Professional Master's degrees here, but it is of quite poor quality. My suggestion is that we should also add some informations about the history of the masters degree and the section about the masters degrees (and it's equivalents) in the European Union should become a new article. (It is quite incomplete now and a complete list of these degrees would be much to long for this article.) This article should only include informations about the Bologna process and the new European degrees, and a link to the new article. Mintaru 02:21, 12 January 2006 (UTC)
This process will need to be conducted with some care since some of the degrees have articles of their own, and some don't. We should probably construct one or two articles, as suggested above, largely as navigational aids with some (historical/academical) overview of each of the general levels of degree, and leave the specifics of each degree to the seperate articles. -Splashtalk 03:09, 12 January 2006 (UTC)
How about merging Professional Master's degree over. From there, I can only discuss American degrees. Could someone fill in on harmonization? -James Howard (talk/web) 03:51, 12 January 2006 (UTC)

What has happened here? You guys have some really good ideas, but nothing much has changed (I think). I am willing to help with the cleanup and restructuring of this page. —anskas 23:32, 25 October 2006 (UTC)


Beware - some individuals are editing degree definitions and entering links to universities with those degree programs - some free advertising. Guess it will always be a problem since Wiki uses open editing.

Filosofie magister and master's degrees in Sweden[edit]

I think it is great that Filosofie magister redirects here, but it should be mentioned in the article otherwise it might be a bit confusing to be redirected here. Probably in should be mentioned in a section of master's degrees in Sweden - we do not really have that degree, and a section explaining the differences could be very useful. // Habj 20:02, 13 May 2006 (UTC)


Why is the EU the defining area? The Bologna process covers a wider area - surely the grouping should be the European Higher Education Area? Timrollpickering 23:15, 21 June 2006 (UTC)

M.Sci. or M.Sc.?[edit]

This article says that M.Sci. degrees are generally less prestigious than M.Sc. degrees. This is no longer the case.

If one were to sit a B.Sc. and an M.Sc. separately, then they could overlap much of their final year of the B.Sc. with the M.Sc., reducing the workload significantly. Whereas, when studying for an M.Sci., all four years are planned to create clear distinction between the courses taken in each year. Also, both the M.Sci. and M.Sc. require substantial research projects, “the dissertation,” of the same standard.

Please edit this article to reflect the new rules introduced by the E.U. around undergraduates masters courses in the U.K.

Please, do edit it to include that info.! JJL 22:09, 6 August 2006 (UTC)
Although only if you can verify it. The above description is quite the reverse of my experience, where groups of 3rd year + MSci 4th-years were very common. It is also true however that MSci candidates may sit in on MSc courses on occasion. It's also not my experience that MSc and MSci projects are expected to be of the same length or standard. However, as always, practice varies from insitution to institution, especially for the newer MSci courses, which are still bedding in to an extent. I imagine Bologna etc will go some way towards standardising MSci and MSc etc courses. Badgerpatrol 00:01, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

I have studied at UCL and I know many people who completed MSci or MSc degrees at UCL and other colleges of the University of London.

It is basically safe to say that the first 3 years of the MSci degree are shared with the BSc degree with the only exception that the MSci students take further taught courses in the third year while the BSc students do their dissertations instead.

In the fourth year the MSci students usually sit in the same courses as the MSc students, take the same exams and do the same kind of dissertation projects. However, there are often differences in the rules which govern the choice of courses offered to students. Many courses done by MSc students cannot be taken by MSci students because they have done it in their first three years. This way the MSci track allows covering more content. Taking in account that additional content was covered instead of the BSc dissertation project, the MSci system certainly scores some points against the MSc system in this particular respect.

Another aspect is that the MSc degrees are often more specialised than the MSci degrees: e.g. at UCL there are courses like “MSc in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning”, “MSc in Data Communications, Networks and Distributed Systems” etc., but “MSci in Computer Science”. Whether a narrow specialisation is generally a good thing at this educational level can be argued about and can probably be seen differently in different contexts.

In conclusion, it is clearly misleading to claim that MSc degrees are considered “better” than the MSci degrees. It does not reflect the contents of the degree courses, nor does it reflect the public opinion. However, such a statement is highly discriminating against the MSci graduates. For these reasons I have taken that statement out of the article.

Yes, I also studied at UC, by a spooky co-incidence, and I have some other experience lecturing and studying at the UoL and elsewhere. That statement was not properly referenced, so you had every right to remove it (it wasn't me that added in the first place, btw). However, I must confess that was not my experience, although as I stated in my original response, times are moving along quickly when it comes to MSci courses and similar and I believe there now is more integration between the two. Obviously, the idea of increasing specialisation is integral to postgraduate study. I am not so sure as you what the public opinion is (certainly amongst academics) but without proper sourcing it is irrelevent anyway- although maybe we should try and insert a note to the effect that the Bologna process may have serious implications for 4-year degrees and possibly for 'traditional' master's courses also. I should note for the record that I am personally very much in favour of 4-year undergraduate degrees (although I might prefer a slightly difference model than that for the MSci etc). Badgerpatrol 12:13, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

MSci degrees are indeed BSc (Hons), but with an additional compulsory Foundation year (now 1st Year, previously an optional "catch up" year for those without A-Levels). The weighting remains identical to a BSc (Hons). MSci should not redirect here, but rather to BSc or perhaps a new MSci page. 67th Tigers (talk) 23:46, 11 June 2008 (UTC)

That's a complete misinterpretation of the Telegraph article you cited. What that is referring to is the adding of Foundation year to the basic degree programme for all because they feel it's now essential that all their students have the same grounding. A foundation year is, as it says on the tin, about getting the students up to the required normal entry point for the degree and doesn't reflect on the rest of the degree programme. The "additional year" in an MSci programme comes at the other end of the degree.
MSci is a "Master's" degree because it uses the title "Master's". One of the main points of confusion in the mid 1990s was the use of "Master's" for the four year degrees when a unique title might have been a better move, although there is a historic justification. (Traditionally a degree was a rank and just as one doesn't simultaneously hold the ranks of Major and Colonel in the same army one equally doesn't hold the Bachelor's and Master's ranks simultaneously. Of course the way degrees are treated in practice, especially with many universities not conferring ad eundem privileges - the equivalent of a unit transfer - means that much of this reasoning gets lost, but a four year programme that ends in the award of a Master's degree and doesn't bother with the formal conferring of a Bachelor's is in line with this.) The article at present feels a little too rigid in its "a master's degree is a postgraduate academic degree" statement - although the four year first degree Master's programmes generally do have final year teaching at Master's level (Level M in the CATS scheme although the terminology keeps changing) the students (usually) have the same undergraduate enrolment and funding (and undergraduate student status within the university for everything from library entitlement to common room privileges) throughout all four of their years as a contemporary taking a three year Bachelor's has rather than the postgraduate student status that their contemporary will have when taking the one year MSc. (There are, however, some universities that are exceptions to this.) Timrollpickering (talk) 00:22, 12 June 2008 (UTC)

Indeed, and as yet another UC graduate with an MSci, now finishing off a doctorate, it certainly was the case outlined above. Everyone enrolled onto a UC physics/astro course registers as an MSci, unless they really don't want to. If they are seen to be a little shaky, or want to leave earlier than four years, they get transferred to a BSc after the first or second year. The final two years are when there is a differentiation between BSc and MSci as for year three the MSci students take additional taught courses where the BSc students do their final year project. The taught modules in the final two years are drawn from the BSc pool of modules in the penultimate year and the BSc and MSc modules in the final year (along with the extended final project). So far as getting funding for postgraduate study afterwards is concerned, a higher pass is required at MSci level (2:1) than MSc level (2:2) for research council funding to be given. This is stated quite clearly in Science and Technology Facility Council rules, so I'll have a look there and see if I can dredge up a citation. --MilleauRekiir (talk) 00:00, 11 July 2008 (UTC)

To my knowledge, MSci is generally a broader, more academic degree, while MSc is more specialized and often vocational. I am in my fourth and final year of the Cambridge Natural Sciences program, specializing in Geological Sciences. All in my year will graduate with an MSci, and some intend to go on and do an MSc somewhere else - a suitable MSc is required for most oil companies. Others are going to do a PhD. I wouldn't describe an MSc as 'higher' than an MSci; one employer or postgradute admissions tutor might favour one, and another the other.
Another Cambridge oddity - I believe we graduate with the MSci _and_ the BA. (talk) 18:32, 8 February 2009 (UTC)
It's simple, MSci is an undergraduate degree. It isn't a Masters. The rules for postgraduate funding are clear; a 2:1 BSc/MSci or an MSc at the Pass level (which are not graded in the manner described above) to enter an MPhil programme (with an examination between 9 and 24 months to enter a PhD programme), or a 2:2 BSc/MSci to enter a MSc programme. 67th Tigers (talk) 00:23, 9 February 2009 (UTC)
“MSci is an undergraduate degree. It isn't a Masters.” what a ridiculous comment. What do you think the 'M' stands for? An MSci, almost without exception at UK universities follows the same 2 ½ years as a BSc, has a slightly different 'honours project' to minimize overlap between 3rd and 4th year studies, followed by doing the Master's year of the Msc, again with slight differences aimed at minimizing overlap. The 4th year is usually shorter (follows normal terms rather than the shorter MSc holidays) but this is largely due to not needing to repeat work that MSc students may need to do if their BSc was significantly different.
I did an MSci and a friend did a BSc and MSc, we were at the same university at the same time, we went to exactly the same lectures for all 4 years, and spent almost exactly the same amount of time in the lab for our project. There was literally no difference except he had to go to some additional 'catch-up' lectures aimed at undergrads from different universities to make sure they had the same knowledge we had (I actually sat in on a few, they were really really basic). I have friends at other universities who have had similar experiences. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:56, 19 February 2011 (UTC)

What about Spain?[edit]

As far as I know, Spain is in the EU and also has universities and so, but can't see any reference in the article. I suspect that the degree scheme differs from the one used in the rest of Europe, and that's why I think that differences and equivalents should be pointed

Requirements for licentiat and doktor in Sweden[edit]

Is really magister required to get licentiat and doktor? I've heard that the official requirement is kandidat.

Yes, the official minimum requirement (by law) is kandidat, but Swedish universities are free to set their own requirements and almost every university demands the magister degree, so magister is the de facto requirement.

"To do" list for article cleanup[edit]

Perhaps we could create a "to do" list for cleaning up this article? — Nicknz 22:32, 31 October 2006 (UTC)

Pass and Distinction[edit]

I've not seen this without the intermediate "merit". And a lot of places dont have anything but "pass and fail". Your point about fails not getting a degree is well made though 22:07, 13 February 2007 (UTC)

Last summer I did a little (non-exhaustive) research on this and the list I have shows the following UK HEIs offering "Pass" and "Distinction" but no Merit:
Aberdeen, Aberystwyth, Anglia Ruskin, Aston, Bangor, Bath, Bath Spa, Bolton, Brighton, Bristol, Brunel, Buckinghamshire Chilterns, Canterbury Christ Church, Cardiff, Central England, Central School of Speech and Drama, Chester, Cumbria Institute of the Arts, Dartington College of Arts, De Montford, Dundee, Durham, East Anglia, Edinburgh, Edinburgh College of Art, Glasgow, Glasgow Caledonian, Gloucestershire, Goldsmiths, Heriot-Watt, Huddersfield, Hull, Imperial, Keele, Lampeter, Lancaster, Lincoln, Liverpool, Liverpool Hope, Liverpool John Moores, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London South Bank, Loughborough, Napier, Newport, North East Wales IHE, Open, Oxford, Paisley, Plymouth, Queen Margaret, Queen Mary, Robert Gordon University, Roehampton, Royal Agricultural College, Royal College of Art, Royal College of Music, Salford, Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam, Southampton, St. Andrews, St. Martin's College, St. Mary's (Strawberry Hill), Stirling, Strathclyde, Sunderland, Surrey, Swansea, UHI Millennium Institute, Ulster, University College London, University of London Institute in Paris, University of the Arts London, Warwick, Winchester, Wolverhampton, York
This list is not necessarily 100% accurate as it's largely sourced from what can be found on a search of the university website (which can range from the current statutes which clearly set out the award scheme to the details for a single Master's course - and when both can be found they don't always agree). But annecdotal evidence from a lot of these institutions backs up the "we have Pass and Distinction but not Merit", whilst several institutions have introduced Merit some years after Distinction (including my own MA alma mater, Kent).
By contrast I'm not aware of many institutions that are still doing just "Pass" and "Fail", although there's evidence that even within institutions practice differs between departments. Timrollpickering 23:42, 13 February 2007 (UTC)
I wonder when universities are going to standardise their postgraduate qualification classifications. For example, at SOAS it is possible to get a "master degree" (see discussion above!) with Distinction with an average mark of 65 (2 marks of 70 or above, including the dissertation, and two marks of 60 or above), whereas at Oxford the same classification would require an average of 70 or above (including at least 70 for the dissertation). Is the explanation that a SOAS master degree requires more work, so some of it is accepted at a lower standard? And then we gather that at some universities Merit degrees are awarded for performance at 65-69 standard, while others require only 60-69 standard. It may not be possible for anything to be done to standardise the quality of work required for the marks awarded (which anecdotal evidence suggests varies considerably not only between universities but within them), but it would seem to be possible to standardise the marks required for the classification. This may have no bearing on the article itself but it would be interesting to know whether any attempts have ever been made to standardise result criteria.--Oxonian2006 21:28, 24 February 2007 (UTC)
To be honest I think the issue about the Oxbridlin (is that the correct amalgam term?) MA is never really going to go away, and with more and more people taking non honourary MAs at other universities then public understanding is only going to get worse - there are many accounts of employment recruiters assuming that someone with an Oxbridge MA has taken a Master's degree, to the detriment of the company when they're employed and the outrage of those whose MAs are substantive.Timrollpickering 00:14, 25 February 2007 (UTC)
The other issues of awarding the levels for MAs is trickier. Comparing the raw marks is unhelpful - there's more care given to deciding whether to give a 64 or 65 when the latter is the Merit level than between 63 and 67 when they're within the same band. A lot of the Master's programmes I've seen don't seem to use an average of all marks for determining the final awards but rather things like "get a mark of ## or above in at least all but, say, one elements" with some additional specifications (e.g. the dissertation can't be the exception with a lower mark).
(It gets even more complicated with the PostGraduate Diplomas. Some universities will award the PGDip to students who pass the taught elements but fail the dissertation of a Masters; others offer the PGDip at a lower pass rate and some are cutting MAs into two years part time with the PGDip just being year one or a shortter qualification.)
There has been some raising of this issue in quarters so we'll see what happens here... Timrollpickering 00:14, 25 February 2007 (UTC)

Oxford, Cambridge, and Dublin MA[edit]

There was a silly row some years ago about the Oxbridge (and Dublin) MA (which just requires better public understanding of how the degree is awareded), but I haven't heard any debate about the fact that these terms can mean different things at different institutions.--Oxonian2006 21:28, 24 February 2007 (UTC)

To be honest I think the issue about the Oxbridlin (is that the correct amalgam term?) MA is never really going to go away, and with more and more people taking non honourary MAs at other universities then public understanding is only going to get worse - there are many accounts of employment recruiters assuming that someone with an Oxbridge MA has taken a Master's degree, to the detriment of the company when they're employed and the outrage of those whose MAs are substantive.Timrollpickering 00:14, 25 February 2007 (UTC)
I very much agree that standardising university qualifications at all levels of study should be given much more attention than it currently is- for example, by abolishing the Oxbridge MA, which is a confusing and somewhat condascending aberration. Badgerpatrol 02:17, 25 February 2007 (UTC)
I don't see why the Oxford, Cambridge, and Dublin MA is confusing, condescending, or an aberration. Personally, I have never found it confusing. For as long as I have been aware of people holding the degree of Master of Arts (probably from around the age of ten) I have known that those from Oxford and Cambridge (I didn't know about Dublin until later) are awarded several years after the BA, in some cases upon payment of a fee. I remember my godfather telling me that when he got his MA at Cambridge he managed to persuade his father to get his MA at the same time. I certainly remember discussing the nature of different sorts of MAs with my tutor in the minibus driving up to Derbyshire on a school trip. He is a Liverpool MSc and bore no grudge against the then Director of Music, a Cambridge MA.
As for it being condescending, let's see what that word means: "feeling or showing that one thinks one is better than other people" (Oxford Compact English Dictionary). How does a university conferring the degree of Master of Arts upon its Bachelors of Arts twenty-one terms after matriculation (Oxford), six years after the end of the first term of residence and two years after admission to the degree of BA (Cambridge), or three years after graduating BA (Dublin) in any way imply that members of those universities feel or show that they think that they are better than other people? (The degree of MA may also be conferred in other circumstances, such by incorporation - when graduates of Oxford, Cambridge, or Dublin study or take up positions in another of those three universities - or by "decree" or "resolution" when somebody from outside of those three universities takes up an appointment within them. Again, this is simply the way that things have been done in these universities for hundreds of years. There is nothing condescending about it.)
Anglican bishops are called The Right Reverend. Catholic bishops (except in Great Britain) are called The Most Reverend. If an Anglican bishop really wants to be called The Most Reverend he (or she) will have to wait until he becomes an archbishop, primate, metropolitan, etc (or be bishop of Meath and Kildare). If he begrudges the Catholic bishop that he already has the style The Most Reverend despite being only a bishop, he should consider whether he ought to have become a Catholic. The Anglican Church does things one way and the Catholic Church does things another way. If one chooses to belong to one Church rather than another one has to live with the traditions of that Church even if it means putting up with being called The Right Reverend. Likewise, if one chooses to study at the University of London (for example) one has to be content with the fact that one will not become eligible for the degree of Master of Arts without doing a year's further study. If one is really desperate to get the MA via the Oxford, Cambridge, Dublin route, one ought to go and study at one of those universities.
The other solution, which nobody seems to be keen to promote, is that all the other universities could adopt the Oxford, Cambridge, Dublin system. All first degrees would become BAs; MAs would be conferred according to whatever practice the university chose to adopt; and the postgraduate degrees would revert to their traditional names: BSc, BLitt, BPhil, and so on. Indeed, the re-naming of Oxford's traditional postgraduate Bachelor degrees seems to me to be a sad example of a medieval university giving in to the demands of the modern world. I think Oxford should have held its own against the modern world (and foreign employers) and insisted that its postgraduate courses would continue to result in the award of a Bachelor's degree.
A former colleague of mine - a Noseman - was fond of saying, "Oxford sets the standard for the world". If only it were more true.--Oxonian2006 22:21, 10 June 2007 (UTC)
Well in response to your first paragraph, each comes from different circumstances. In my own case, my own family my generation are, with the sole exception of my uncle, the first to go to university and none of us went to Oxbridge (although my cousin went to Edinburgh where "MA" means yet another thing; however she is a scientist) and those of us who have MAs all have substantive ones. So growing up it wasn't something I ever heard about through the family or friends. The first time I heard about the Oxbridge MA was when I was about 13/14 when one our teachers explained the difference - and it was very much "Oxford & Cambridge graduates buy it, at other universities it's a full degree". And that chance discussion was the only time I can recall this being mentioned at school - were it not for my being strongly aware of the issues surrounding this, I would probably have forgotten that moment. The distinction has never been mentioned at any of my universities, regardless of what I was/am taking, and many of my undergraduate and (real) Masters friends have expressed surprise when, for whatever conversational reason, I've explained this one. And many of them are from backgrounds where they're very unlikely to have Oxbridge graduates around in their formative years to explain this. Equally, as I've said, I've encountered cases where the Oxbridge MA has been confused for a real Masters in the wider world. (Yes you can make the point that CV scanners should be better trained and there is something in that, but the basic thrust of standarisation in qualification terminology is to ensure transparancy and ease of comparison, and specialist knowledge to decipher things is at odds with this.) So I think there is very real confusion over the situation.
In regards the second paragraph, I'll agree to a point that it's not condescending to just cling onto traditions, although it hasn't quite been "hundreds of years" - according to Master of Arts (Oxford, Cambridge and Dublin) it's only been 200 years (this year) that the modern set-up has existed. Tradition is all well and good, but here in the 21st century it is hard to dispute that Oxbridge is in the minority of UK HEIs practising this and could (give or take the formal processes) easily bring itself in line with the standard terminology for degrees. So whatever the rationale and route that it has taken, de facto Oxbridge is being heard as saying that a graduate of its Bachelors degree is on a level with a Masters graduate elsewhere. (And this argument has been explicitly made by some defenders of the set-up, especially when proposals for standardisation hit the news.)
Yes different institutions do things differently, although I don't accept the style of bishops in the churches as a valid comparison. The styles used make no difference in the wider context, whereas the degrees awarded do. (Also as I've said, very few in my experience are aware of the difference for the Oxbridge MA, certainly not at the age when the decision to aim for Oxbridge is taken.) In popular perception this is the equivalent of one swimming awards body giving the Silver Swimming Certificate without doing anything further after getting the Bronze, whilst another requires further swimming. (Okay not the greatest comparison but it's the first non-academic award I can think of that may have multiple issuing bodies. Many technical qualifications are rigidly standardised by various bodies.)
No-one's promoting the idea of every other institution moving to the Oxbridge set-up because it would be ridiculous. You'd be breaking away from what is quite a standard in the Anglophile world, and one which many European institutions are moving towards, for no benefit whatsoever. Currently most university students get their final award when they finish university. Why create a mess? What purpose would it serve? It would require endless admin, create no end of further confusion as universities go through transitional arrangements, spend a lot of time and money trying to work out just what to rename particularly specialised MA and MSc programmes to, cause no end of problems for international mobility and transparency (and even domestically - supposing ten years after a UK wide changeover a person in their late 30s has a "BSc" - are they someone with an undergraduate degree from before the changeover or someone who was a mature student?), require a lot more effort to remain in contact with alumni in order to handle this one and so forth. Plus "Masters" is widely understood to be higher than "Bachelors" - hence all the confusion - creating a scheme where you go from Bachelors to Masters to Bachelors would be utterly confusing. Even Oxford clearly acknowledges this in its moves to standardisation - you can't live in the past forever. For Oxbridge (and Dublin, but given that much of the debate is UK focused, plus if it were imposed from above it would again be at a UK level, it's easier to focus just at UK level; also I'd leave the Republic of Ireland to handle its own HE system) to come in line with well over 100 other universities would be easy, especially as we're not talking about changing the contents of the courses. For well over 100 other institutions to adapt to the Oxbridge system would be a mamoth task that does nothing to enhance education and qualifications, or justify the amount of money that would need to be spent.
Frankly on this Oxbridge has lost control of the ball and can't get it back. It doesn't set this particular standard for the world anymore.
I think you misunderstand the focus of criticism - it isn't driven by envy or jealously by people who feel they should have this option as well, but by a strong belief that in the modern age qualifications should use consistent terminology for ease of understanding and identification. Timrollpickering 00:28, 11 June 2007 (UTC)
Perhaps I should clarify that when my colleague said, "Oxford sets the standard for the world", he was referring to Hart's Rules for Compositors and Readers at the University Press Oxford.
Perhaps I might also add that I was the first member of my family to go to university (godparents not counting as family).
And of course I am not suggesting that other universities should change to the old Oxford system of degrees, but just that they could if they wanted to. I am not in favour of standardising universities. In some colleges at Cambridge the President is the head of the college, while at others the President appears to be a kind of senior Fellow. In most Oxford colleges the Dean is a fairly junior fellow with responsibility for student discipline, but at Christ Church he is the Head of House. Many Oxford colleges have scholars and exhibitioners, but others have only scholars; Merton has postmasters and exhibitioners. Cambridge is unique in having a Registrary. Does he need to be renamed Registrar?
I gather from what you say that there are, supposedly, people who don't understand the system but I have to say I have never met one! I used to work with somebody who had a BA and MA from Bangor. He understood the system and didn't object to the fact that some of his colleagues were MA (Oxon) or MA (Cantab) having spent only three years at university. I think he assumed that everybody knew that he had worked for his MA while the others had just waited the required number of terms.
Finally, I would suggest that on somebody's CV it should usually be obvious whether the MA has been worked for. First, one assumes that the person will have been doing something else during the three or four years between getting the BA and the MA, which would mean that the MA, if studied for, would have to be assumed to be a part-time, distance-learning qualification. Secondly, the MA has neither a subject nor a classification. If somebody's CV says, "Oxford University: BA 3rd Class Engineering 1980, Oxford University: MA 1984", this seems to be rather obviously different to, "Manchester University: BA 1st Class History 1980, Leeds University: MA Distinction Post-Colonial Studies 1981". And don't employers notice that virtually all of their Oxbridge applicants have this MA after three or four years? I think employers really must be rather dim if they don't work it out sooner or later!
PS, If we are talking about standarsising education I think a far more important thing worry about is the fact that, as I read in The Tablet recently, "Only in England does it still matter where you went to school". The answer is because only in England (and the rest of the UK) is there a huge disparity between the education that 93% (or thereabouts) of children get at state schools (although some are good) and the education that 7% of children get at private schools (although some of them are rubbish). Far more concerning than the fact that some universities award an MA to their graduates and others don't is the fact that you get a completely different education if you go to Winchester than you do if you go to your local comprehensive.--Oxonian2006 12:56, 11 June 2007 (UTC)
Perhaps true about the rules, although when I think of the OUP style guide the first thing that springs to mind is their dogmatic (and seemingly losing) position on the -ise/-ize spelling debate, but that's a total aside.
As for family, yes, although as quite of my sister and my godparents are family, or sometimes seem as close as that, the distinction can get overlooked.
There is a clear difference between standardising the internal workings of universities and standardising qualifications. Qualifications do not exist in a vacuum. Also again the pressure for standardisation isn't primarily driven by universities, but as much by the QAA ( see [3]) and many graduates (including some Oxbridge ones - see [4]), as well as employers wanting clearly delineated qualifications. Plus qualification standardisation is quite big at the moment - see the Bologna process. Changing against the flow makes no sense in this context. (Also there's no real reason to introduce a two-tier qualification whereby one graduates with only a lesser stage qualification and then for no academic work whatsoever has to upgrade.) Furthermore Oxford (I'm not sure about Cambridge) has conceded the very case for standardisation with some of its reforms to postgraduate degrees (albeit haphazardly).
We can trade annecdotes all the time, but not only have I encountered many who both don't understand the system and those who do but who object to it (e.g. Ann Campbell in the BBC News story). A quick Google search turns this article from the Independent:
Yet nearly two-thirds of employers surveyed believed a Cambridge MA was awarded for postgraduate academic work, according to research carried out by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education... The survey of 150 major employers found that 81 per cent thought qualifications confusing and 90 per cent wanted them reformed to ensure that equivalent titles were awarded for equivalent work.
Note that not only does this show a substantial amount of confusion on this, but also it exists in crucial areas.
Your point about "well it's clear on the CV they've been doing something else" is strange because many, many Masters degrees are taken part time - my sister's CV will show she was doing a lot else in the years when she was taking her MA (part-time), mine shows the part-time jobs I was taking whilst doing my MA (full-time). And part-time isn't all distance learning - many institutions offer their Masters part-time and some even specialise in this. Subject distinctions and classifications don't come into it really, especially as there are all manner of "general studies" qualifications. As for three or four years (which I'm told is not always the case - isn't it possible to take out the MA later on, or for that matter to not bother?) it isn't so obvious, especially when you're just scanning the CV not analysing it. It's not a case of employers being "rather dim" but perpetuation of confusion.
PS Yes you're right about that, although this isn't a talk page about school level education. Plus a lot of the voices on this, particularly the QAA and the Higher Education Minister, are not charged with dealing with schooling, wheras consistency of qualifications is within their remit. And "there are other more pressing matters" is a case for prioritisation, but never a case in the intellectual argument itself. Timrollpickering 14:01, 11 June 2007 (UTC)

How to address?[edit]

If someone is Jane Smith, M.S., do you call them Dr. Jane Smith or Professor Jane Smith or what?--Atlantima 03:24, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

Neither. She is not a doctor if she only has a master's degree, and she is most likely only an adjunct professor as a doctorate is normally required for an assistant or associate "true" professorship. Call her "professor" if she is your instructor to butter her up.HarvardOxon 03:29, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
It's no necessarily correct, but since a doctorate makes you a doctor in title, I have my master make me "master" or "magister". So just as a doctor stops and corrects people ("Hello Mr. Smith" "Doctor" "Huh?" "It's Doctor Smith"). I, and some people I've seen, also correct people ("Hello Mr. Johnson" "Magister" "Huh?" "It's Magister Johnson"). Master seems too authoritative, but I've been known to use it too. Some people don't understand the level of study a master degree (which by definition makes you a master in something and therefore a master) requires and think only doctors deserve titles. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:45, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
Here in the US I have never heard of anyone using a degree-based title for other than some form of docter's degree. So, while I have an MA, I would never think of using "Master" as a title in any situation. At most, one would use a post-name tag: John Doe, MA, but then usually in a situation where your academic credentials would be important. On another note, while it is usually true that a doctor' s degree is required for a professorship, in some cases, particularly in the arts, someone might get a professorship based on his/her accomplishments rather that formal academic studies. Such a person could be correctly addressed as "Professor" but not "Doctor". Wschart (talk) 17:07, 11 October 2012 (UTC)

Unsubstantiated section[edit]

The following is proving controversial [5]:

'(though candidates who complete only a master's degree program do not automatically obtain a bachelor's degree by default, and are not necessarily considered to be of a similar academic status as candidates who possess both a bachelor's and a master's degree)

Firstly it's coming at the end of a sentance about admission to a master's programme so I'm not sure it's even in the right place.

Secondly this is one of the areas where precisely what holding an academic degree means can be confusing. Traditionally an academic degree was a rank and one was no more a Bachelor & Master in the same faculty than a solider can be both a Corporal and Seargant simultaneously. So a programme designed to take someone from undergraduate entry to master's degree directly is not a problem in these circumstances (and indeed parallels many European degree systems such as the diplom where a single programme covers what we'd think of as both bachelor's and master's).

But what confuses things is that in this day and age students, graduates, society and many a university seem to regard degrees as qualifications in and of their own right. This can get very confusing when the programme is combined (though it's far from the only one - there are Bachelor's programmes, usually part time, that are divided into Certificate of Higher Education, Diploma of HE and degree levels each corresponding to the equivalent of a full year's study) but generally if the programme meets the requirements for a Master's degree (i.e. c180 Level M CATS points) then it is considered in some quarters to be on a similar level.

I'm not sure who is doing the formal considering as there are many cases of a year's intake of PhD students including people with a Bachelor's + Master's, a four year Master's and just a good Bachelor's, and this is one of the few areas where you could consider "academic status". Taking it to the wider level of employers just gets even murkier. Timrollpickering 18:05, 8 September 2007 (UTC)

Mmmm, this does seem to be a tricky area. There seems to be considerable differences in the "true value" of a Masters degree, especially in comparison to Bachelor's degrees and which degree is "higher". I'm in the UK, and my own bachelor's degree took me four years (full time) to complete, where as my masters only took me 1 year. Some people on my MA course didn't even have a bachelors degree to start off with but had a bit of relevant industry experience (my MA is media related), but they seem to be fooling themselves into thinking that the MA they graduated with is actually worth the equivalent of a BA plus MA together. Personally, I dont even believe that a 1 year MA is higher than or even equivalent to a 3 or 4 year BA (though I have both). I merely see my MA as an enchancement to my BA, and something to show that I have studied at university for a total of 5 years, but I don't see my MA as something that necessarily "outranks" my BA. I know this might vary according to the subject studied, quality of the course itself and the length of time it takes, but I think this should be addressed in the article. Can anybody else add anything? MassassiUK 20:10, 8 September 2007 (UTC)
Historically your classmates would be right, although nowadays things have swung the other way (although we haven't yet got to the stage where everyone starts breaking their degrees down into the nominal sub-degree awards which would mean you and I both have the equivalent of at least a CertHE, DipHE, BA, PgCert, PgDip and MA!). Precisely how the degrees are perceived does vary in different quarters and needs heavy researching and sourcing, though in general the perception isn't so much one of "equivalent to" but "have reached that stage" - in the same way that very few people care much about whether or not a graduate took A-Levels (and there's many who didn't) - so effectively a person with an MA is regarded as being good enough to have a BA, regardless of whether they do, or did a 4 year undergraduate Master's or had life experience rather than formal qualifications to get onto the MA. Of course industry may have specific requirements and in my experience it's much rarer for someone contemplating doctoral work to come directly into academia at Master's level (although there are occasional exceptions, mainly those who research professionally), so exactly how much the perception matters may be hard to quantify (do the opinions of moaning newspaper columnists matter?). Timrollpickering 00:32, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
I think things are indeed different now. For example, the Dean (or Chancellor) and the various heads of departments at my old university would always list all of their graduate qualifications on official stationery (e.g. - Professor John Smith, BA (Hons), MA, Med, PhD.). This shows that they have completed all of these courses, without taking shortcuts, and have genuinely earned their "rank" so to speak. My BA was actually harder than my MA was (but they were in different subjects so a true comparison can't really be made). A general assumption is made that an MA is higher than a BA, although I only see an MA as "higher" when it is placed on top of a BA...if you see what I mean. It's a cumulative process. A BA is usually much wider than an MA, whereas an MA is usually more specialised and therefore narrower in scope. It is debateable which is worth more by itself, but it stands to reason that a person who has BA (Hons) and MA after their name is better qualified than somebody with just MA alone. Especially in this day and age where some universities will let just about anybody onto their postgrad courses, regardless of their prior qualifications or their true abilities. Universities are run far more like businesses now than ever before, which is why this is allowed to happen. MassassiUK 14:15, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
Oh the way the postnominals get displayed is something of a different matter in this regard, though one that just confounds the confusion. In general though anyone with an Oxbridge MA does not list their Oxbridge BA as well - Oxbridge still follows the practice of regarding degrees as ranks within a "faculty" (i.e. the bit in the award title - "of Science", "of Philosophy" etc..., rather than the actual grouping of departments) that can't be held simultaenously (but also generally don't offer degrees at undergraduate and postgraduate level in the same "faculty" so both an MA and PhD would be listed, but the BA would not). But elsewhere people generally do. Continuing the military analogies, this is the equivalent of someone with an 18 years' service medal also displayed 3 years, 6, 9, 12 and 15 as well (and the PhD is to the BA/MA what different regiments are to each other). Complicating matters further a lot of traditional style guides that I'm aware of seem to predate what is a relatively modern set-up and leave a lot of questions awkwardly unanswered, especially when it comes to degrees from more than one institution. And many, many people do not consult style guides but just copy the practice they see around them, often resulting in quite inconsistent practices.
With regards it stands to reason that a person who has BA (Hons) and MA after their name is better qualified than somebody with just MA alone, in general I don't think academics judge people purely on the letters after their name (indeed in academia it's generally the practice to not use the letters internally as everyone has them - official stationary that gets used externally as well is another matter - and indeed someone who does use them internally can be thought less of for this) but rather the judgement is on what level of achievement they have demonstrated through the highest award achieved. Since a Bachelor's degree is generally the requirement for entering a Master's programme or else the equivalent is contained in a combined programme, it's normally taken for granted that someone with a Master's degree has got a Bachelor's or has demonstrated an equivalent level of achievement. I could also list a diploma I hold (although confusingly it's not at DipHE level and indeed the institution is now renaming the award for standardisation) but I don't think that that in any way elevates how my academic status is regarded above anyone with just a BA & MA. As for how things are perceived outside it's much harder to judge - see Talk:Master of Business Administration/archive1#Discussion. Timrollpickering 16:34, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

I've removed the following:

Although master's degrees can vary significantly in length and scope (depending on country, institution, and subject), candidates who complete only a master's degree program do not automatically obtain a bachelor's degree by default (unless the program is designed as a joint program) and are not necessarily considered to be of a similar academic status as candidates who possess both a bachelor's and a master's degree.

1- all education levels "vary significantly in length and scope", so this is a meaningless point 2- I don't see why there would be any assumption that obtaining a master's automatically gives one a bachelor's degree. Again, meaningless since it addresses a non-issue 3- without citation, the professed inferiority of a master's degree without a bachelor's is OR and opinion. Also, weasel wording "not necessarily" makes this a meaningless point also.

- Special-T 20:23, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

See also vs. categories[edit]

Instead of listing every degree we can think of in this article, it seems that they should all just be members of a category. I'm not really up to speed on the policy or mechanics of doing this. Anyone? - Special-T 20:58, 9 November 2007 (UTC)


This article does not have any verifiable information in regards to the term MS. I am removing it from the list of articles in the MS (disambiguation) page. —Preceding unsigned comment added by CyclePat (talkcontribs) 03:45, 15 November 2007 (UTC)

Please leave the link on MS; some facts are so well known that it is not necessary to cite a reliable source. The fact that Master of Science is often abbreviated MS is one of them. I am tempted to add the bromide about BS, MS, PhD standing for "Bull shit, more shit, piled higher and deeper." --Una Smith 06:03, 15 November 2007 (UTC)

Hi Una Smith,
When I went to University I still didn't know until my second year what B.A. meant? And per WP:V and the statement above every edit summary "Encyclopedic content must be verifiable." --CyclePat 16:51, 15 November 2007 (UTC)
And don't discuss changes to MS here -- change this article to remove the M.S. bit first (if you can get consensus, which seems unlikely). -- JHunterJ 12:24, 15 November 2007 (UTC)
Where exactly are "MS" or "MSc" abbreviations for Master's degree? Normally they're abbreviations for Master of Science. The acronyms shouldn't be in the intro when they mean something else. Timrollpickering 12:30, 15 November 2007 (UTC)
Agreed, and fixed. SlackerMom 13:15, 15 November 2007 (UTC)

That's a pretty shocking ommission as Master of Science is one of the two most common titles used for particular Master's degrees. Does anyone fancy creating an article on it? Timrollpickering 14:46, 15 November 2007 (UTC)

I would leave it as a redirect; it has been that way since 2003, by the way. It is sufficient to explain in this article that in the US (and Canada?) Master of Science is abbreviated MS. It might help to use a subsection head "Common abbreviations" or similar. --Una Smith 17:56, 15 November 2007 (UTC)

We have a page on Master of Arts - well actually three but that's because of Oxbridglin and Scottish practice - as well as a large category for Master's degrees. Not having a dedicated page on what the Master of Science is and how it differs around the world is a strange ommission, even if it has been a redirect for four years. -- Timrollpickering (talk) 19:23, 16 November 2007 (UTC)
I have changed my mind. As far as I am concerned, you are welcome to expand Master of Science into an article. Regardless, you are always entitled to be bold. Go for it! --Una Smith (talk) 00:43, 17 November 2007 (UTC)
  • Hi everyone, I'm sorry but I still don't see any reliable source that substantiates the statement within this article that says "The master of science degree usually is abbreviated MS in the USA". Does anyone have any sources for this? —Preceding unsigned comment added by CyclePat (talkcontribs) 16:48, 15 November 2007 (UTC)

This Google search for "MS, PhD" is abundant proof. I will add a citation to it. --Una Smith 17:56, 15 November 2007 (UTC)

Thank you very much Una Smith, I think your link shows notability and common use. It may be more appropriate to add a reference that specifically adresses this issue. I'll look through your google list an try to add something but, again, I feer that I may become frustrated and not find secondary info which spports that fact. I'm thinking even nay be leaning towards WP:SYNT. Again we'll see what we can do! Best regards. --CyclePat 18:54, 15 November 2007 (UTC)

WP:SYNT applies only to Wikipedia pages, not external sources. Okay? We can point to any number of sites that show (which is better than tell) that Master of Science is abbreviated MS. Note the .edu (hence US) sites. More generally, is it necessary to cite a reliable source for minor points that are not in any way contentious? I don't think so. CyclePat, please note that your contention is not about the point itself but about proving the point. --Una Smith 00:26, 16 November 2007 (UTC)

Comment by CyclePat[edit]

Oh Darn! I just lost my previous verbose version by hitting the back button by accident. Well here it is in short. I see what you mean in terms of SYNTH. Again, though, I only feel as though it's leaning towards a SYNT. Let me explain why : That’s because, I believe, we need some reliable sources. To answer your question : it is necessary to cite a reliable source even for minor points. These minor points may later on, such as I believe is the case for the MS (disambiguation) page and this abbreviation MS, become a key “verifiable source” to substantiate the inclusion not only within it's article but other articles. Per WP:V, we need to make it easy for people to find verify the information. A good citation is usually sufficient. If not for this reasons, then it should be done to avoid any possible conflict of Original Research. Let's take our present dilemma. I believe you are asking me to correlate approximately 3 points of information for 1 sentence. Many sources of information!

First we need to infer through the statement “Master of Science (MS)” that :

Reference A (ex.: Master of Science means (MS))
First off: I find it difficult that we can say : ”All Master of Science are abrv. MS”
It may be better to say: "Some Master of Science are abrv. MS"
Another problem is: we need to explain and link to what an abbreviation is within the footnotes annotation. That way we give a reference and avoid possible OR. As per WP:OR we should only be stating descriptive claims: ex.: Master of Science is generally followed by the term MS.(put your google reference here) (What is MS? MS may be considered an abbreviation according to?)(reference here).
My final problem is figuring out this information, by... not looking in the usual location... as you said we must look at the web-address (not the content) which leads us to the next reference.
Reference B (ex.: “.edu” website means United States, (according to what we presently state))
How do I find out that “.edu” means united states? I need to do some more research. (ie.: Wikipedia .edu which ironically doesn't quite state that:
Instead is says :(Reference C) "for educational institutions, primarily those in the United States". (Wikipedia .edu)
Here is a question: How does some educational institutions, primarily in the united states, become the United States? (You've changed the premis)
And if a webpage ".edu" makes reference to the term MS, how does that correlate to United States?
How can we make a logical conclusion which states : “The master of science degree usually is abbreviated MS in the USA". (as stated within the current article?) (Remember it's okay to state primary information but we should be making any relationships)

Now I need to try and understand all of this information and/or essentially come to a conclusion (WP:SYNTH) or Synthesis. This is how I would synthesis all the information (most likely creating a syllogism) and violating wikipedia's policies

If MS is an abbreviation to term Master of Science
And if the Master of Science is found on a ".edu" website
And if a ".edu" website means a website within united states
(It’s been a while since I took philosophy but I think we can not come to any easy conclusion. I think we need to make seperate sentences to avoid a synth... essentially):

conclusion "Master of Science" can be followed by the term "(MS)".(google link, with the annotation: In these circumstances, it is generally considered an accronym or an abbrev. which is used on some .edu websites.)

And yes! This information must be verifiable. As per WP:V the above sentence everything needs a source. ---- CyclePat (talk) 19:16, 16 November 2007 (UTC)
Well here's an easier one - are there any prominent US guides on postnominal letters that can be cited? UK guides aren't any use as we use "MSc" - don't ask me why though. Oh and to complicate things further some academics with US degrees working in the UK will "translate" their postnominals (so "MS" becomes "MSc" and "AB" becomes "BA"). Others don't. I've seen many a university PG prospectus listing the various staff in a department and sometimes one degree from one institution can be summarised in four different ways on the same page! -- Timrollpickering (talk) 19:23, 16 November 2007 (UTC)
Euh, sigh. If I may summarize our confusing conversation I think we both agree that there are presently no real sources because there are so... so many ways of "abbreviating" something. We still have a problem, which is we need to find a source for who uses what, where and why? Heck... just taking a look at my B.A. I think there where only about 5 people that received a similar title. They've now changed the name. So... really... what we are getting into, is not only an issue of "verifiability" but "notability" (that is, finding the information/sources per WP:V is perhaps difficult because there is not that much "notability".) Anyways... we still need sources. --CyclePat (talk) 01:04, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

Article structure[edit]

I have made a start at reorganizing the sentences into more coherent themes. Some more section headings might be useful, but even without headings there are some distinct themes in the article that need to be better developed as themes:

  • pre-requisites
  • scope and duration of study
  • kinds of work involved
  • variants in name and abbreviation
  • career prospects with degree in hand

One theme not here:

  • cost

Cost has several components, primarily enrollment fees and lost income potential and seniority and work experience while in school.

--Una Smith 18:18, 15 November 2007 (UTC)

Definition as Post grad flawed?[edit]

I completed an undergraduate four year masters (MNeurosci)- no batchelors degree was issued after three years and none was available. The article defines a masters specifically as a postgrad degree. What do you think about changing to "typically a postgrad degree"? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Jddriessen (talkcontribs) 12:01, 3 April 2008 (UTC)

BTW, it should be "Masters Degree" not "Master's Degree or Masters' Degree." —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:32, 25 September 2008 (UTC)

It is a "Master's Degree" because it is conferred to the recipient by a master. Similar to an associate's degree. It is not the same as the "Masters Tournament" in golf, which is a tournament of masters. A master's degree is not a degree of masters. This is a subtle distinction that can be difficult to wrap one's mind around. Ssnseawolf (talk) 09:26, 26 November 2008 (UTC)

All official Degrees are issued in the name of HRM The King of Spain[edit]

My degree, from an institution in the UK, isn't (talk) 17:10, 9 May 2009 (UTC)

Latin meaning for master[edit]

The page for doctor says that doctor is latin for "teacher". This page says that master is latin for "teacher". Were these words exact synonyms in latin? I doubt it. Can we be more specific? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:01, 22 June 2010 (UTC)

Actually, Master derives from "magister" ("teacher"), whereas doctor is the term for a very educated and competent person. --Bahrmatt (talk) 12:24, 26 February 2014 (UTC)


Is it "masters" or "master's"? The article uses both. (talk) 09:56, 5 November 2011 (UTC)

Definite apostrophe if used correctly. It's a possessive. The Big Hoof! (talk) 14:54, 1 July 2013 (UTC)

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