Top 4 Differences between an MSc and an MA

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

If you are considering pursuing a Master’s degree in the UK, you are probably aware that universities in the UK offer Masters of Science (M.Sc) and Masters of Arts (M.A.) but, are you aware of the differences between them? It is important to clarify their differences so that you make sure you choose the degree you choose has the right approach. 

First of all: Why should you earn a Master’s degree?

Higher education should be a priority for every person, as it is a tool that allows everyone to keep updated to the current demands and to have a good job with a good income. 

The higher the education you receive, the more chances you will have for better job positions and higher earnings. 

According to research, having a Master’s degree can increase your earning potential up to 28% compared to the salary you would expect to earn if you have a Bachelor’s degree. 

Among other benefits of earning a master’s degree, it is possible to mention the fact that it allows you to update your knowledge and increase your skills, which means you will have better chances of getting a new job or a promotion. 

In order to be able to enjoy those benefits, you need to choose the degree that perfectly fits you. You should not base your whole decision on a single aspect, for example, on the financial aspect. There are many other factors you need to consider to make a thorough decision, including job satisfaction, earnings, job opportunities, the things you are good at, your skills, among others.

There are many steps in the decision-making process. Before choosing a specific specialization, you need to focus on the approach that you should take to earn your master’s degree. This means that you should ask yourself:

Is a Master of Science or a Master of Arts the right one for me?

Let’s define each one: 

Master of Arts

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the Master of Arts is defined as: “an advanced college or university degree in a subject such as literature, language, history, or social science”. In general, MA students have studied one or more of these subjects at the undergraduate level and are interested in advancing and deepening their knowledge about the subject through one or two more years of study.

Master of Science

Masters of Science, on the other hand, are focused on disciplines like Sciences, Engineering, Technology, Mathematics, Medicine, and some Social Sciences, such as Finance, Psychology, Sociology, and others. To earn an M.Sc. degree, you are generally required to write a scientific thesis, but this depends on the type of study programme. All of this, and much more, could be at your fingertips with two or more years of study in an M.Sc. programme. 

Top 4 Differences between Masters of Science and Masters of Arts

If you are not completely aware of how MSc and MA differ, you’ve come to the right place. Below you will find the differences you should be aware of before applying:

  • Disciplines: Masters of Science generally deal with fields that involve Science and Math, whereas Masters of Arts involve creativity, debating and analysis. Some of the subjects that an M.A. may consist of are Creative Writing, Languages, Philosophy & Ethics, Design, Music, etc.
  • Teaching Methodology: Another important difference involves the teaching methodology. There are some exceptions, but Master of Arts students generally learn through research, class discussions, and essay writing. On the other hand, Master of Science students learn through analysis, lab work, and scientific research. While both types of Masters involve practice, the amount of the practice you do depends on your chosen programme and university. 
  • Possibilities for further studies: Whereas Masters of Arts are terminal degrees, meaning they are the highest level of achievement in that field of study, Masters of Science generally prepare you to either work or go on to study at the doctoral level. However, not all MSc students end up continuing onto doctoral programmes, and their MSc is still well-respected in their fields. Meanwhile, some MA students also go on to do doctoral degrees, not of Arts but of Philosophy. 
  • Topics covered: Masters of Science will mostly tackle an entire field, whereas Masters of Arts tend to be more focused on a subfield. Think what you want to achieve with your Master programme – a slightly more focused overview of a specific topic (MA) or a broader, more knowledgeable understanding of an entire field (MSc).

After mentioning the previous differences, it is important to point out that their names are misleading and that you shouldn’t be fooled by the names of the programmes. 

You can find the same disciplines offered either as a Master of Arts or a Master of Science. Some examples include Economics, Finance, Marketing, and Political Science.

They can sometimes reflect different approaches and focuses, but this is not a rule. 

Make sure you carefully and thoughtfully go through the programmes you are interested in and contact us if you have any further questions as regards the previously mentioned differences or about any other concern you may have. 

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