The Difference Between an MA Degree and an MS Degree

Once people finish earning their bachelor’s degree for whichever major they’ve decided to take up, they have the option to go into graduate school to earn their master’s degree to pursue higher understanding for their major. Graduate school lets people continue and sharpen their skills learned from undergraduate study.

Eventually, you will finish the first level of graduate school and earn a Master’s degree in your major. There are two types of Master’s degrees that are offered for the first level of graduate school. These two are the M.A. or Master of Arts & Humanities, and M.S. for a Master of Sciences. There’s also more that comes down to which one a graduate should get and the distinct differences between the two.

It Depends on your major

Yes. Just like a Bachelor’s degree, it depends on your major. The MA degree applies to people who major in art, humanities, and fine arts. For example, teachers, artists, and historians are some of the few that apply to the MA degree.

For people who are majoring in something related to health care, sciences, or just anything that’s science-related will fall into the category of the MS degree. For example, chemists, biologists, and engineering.

The Coursework

To be concise, it all boils down to what classes people also take in Graduate school. For example, if you are planning to earn an MS degree, it will require a lot of classes. People who are strong in research, mathematics, and complex problem solving are usually the ones who get an MS degree.

Students who are pursuing the MA degree will take classes that require less problem-solving skills and mathematics. They will take classes that revolve around the arts, behavioral sciences, and history.

And for students who are looking to major in Computer Science, they will be taking classes that focus on the basics of computer programming, firewalls, and the basics of computer/computer hardware repair.

The Exams

Schools will typically have the final exam for earning your master’s for whichever field you are pursuing to major in. For the MA exam, specifically for teachers, the ma teacher certification exam is used for people who want to be English teachers. The ma teacher certification exam can be also for people who are looking to become history teachers, behavioral science teachers, and art teachers.

For the MS exam, this revolves around people who are looking to pursue their careers in the field of chemistry, biology, and any other science-related major taking an exam that is specific to their major.

Projects vs. Thesis

For MS majors, they have to do a lot of research and write something called a Thesis. For example, a science major will have to write a thesis about the effects of external chemicals on the human body. A MA student might just have a smaller project to do. For example, a semester-long portfolio of drawings.


Terminal Degrees

Just as it all depends on your major, it also depends on whether the degree you are pursuing is the highest or do you need to go higher to get the highest one. There are some people who aren’t aware of this and waste their money. But luckily, we can tell you some of the common ones that finish at the Master’s degree level.

A term called the Terminal degree is defined as the highest degree a person can receive in their field. It’s more common for people who are trying to get their MA degree to be the terminal degree for them. For MS students, the degree is usually considered preparation to receive the doctoral degree later.