A master’s degree is a level 7 qualification that is ideal for people who wish to study a specific subject in more detail following an undergraduate degree. This postgraduate qualification can assist in improving your employability post study due to an increased level of knowledge and expertise in a given topic.

Master’s degrees typically take one year of full-time, or two years of part-time study to complete. This type of degree has a reputation for being an intense form of study, due to the demand of completing several modules alongside writing a comprehensive and original dissertation. However, if you have already completed an undergraduate degree you will more than likely be prepared for a master’s.

Although a lot of work, completing a master’s degree is an outstanding achievement that can provide a multitude of benefits, including:

  • Progression in a current career including an increased salary upon completion
  • Increased employment prospects upon completion
  • The ability to progress to a higher qualification such as a PhD
  • The chance to gain contact and connections within a specific industry
  • A helping hand with a career change

The Two Types of Master’s Degrees

Master’s degrees can be split firstly into two categories: taught masters and research masters. Each of these house further master’s degree types shown below.

Taught Master’s

Within taught masters the most popular types of degree include Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MSc), Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Master of Engineering (MEng). This type of degree is very similar to an undergraduate programme in the sense that students will attend lectures, seminars and other activities alongside carrying out independent study and research.

Research Master’s

Types of degree within research masters include Master of Philosophy (MPhil), Master of Research (MRes) and MSc by research. This form of masters will involve a level of training in research methods alongside carrying out your own research project.

What do master’s degrees involve?

This all depends on the type of degree and subject you are studying. Both types of degree require a dissertation, however some courses may include other written assignments, exams and practical work.

If you are studying a research master’s degree you will spend a lot of time collecting data, analysing and drawing conclusions. A lot of your work will be independent with less support from tutors as it is in essence your research project.

If you are studying a taught master’s depending on your subject, you may have to take exams and undergo other assessments throughout the year alongside your final dissertation.

How to apply

Applying for a master’s degree is different to applying for an undergraduate degree. Instead of applying through UCAS, in most cases you have to apply directly through the university.

Most universities have their own online application systems, so make sure you have everything you need for each specific one. The most common documents you will need include:

  • Application form
  • CV
  • Personal statement
  • References
  • Academic transcripts
  • Research proposal if you are applying for a research-based degree

When to apply

Most master’s application processes are open all year round. However, it would be beneficial to apply near the start of the admissions cycle as applications can be accepted on a first-come-first-serve basis. Should you get accepted early on in the admissions cycle it provides you with more time to arrange accommodation and any funding that you may need throughout your study.


If you live in England, the government provide a Postgraduate Master’s Loan to help you with course fees and living costs. If your course started on or after August 1st 2020 you can get up to £11,222. This will not judge yours or your family’s income, but you will have to pass the eligibility criteria to qualify for the loan. This depends on your course, your age and your nationality/residency status. To find out whether you are eligible for the loan visit the gov.uk website.