Master Degree Programs – Can you earn a master’s degree by converting corporate training and life experience into course credit? The answer is either “yes” or “no” depending on who you ask and how they evaluate your non-traditional experiences and turn them into college credits. Here are a few different ways you can earn credit toward a master’s degree.
Master’s degree programs, which typically require between 30 and 48 credit hours of undergraduate college credit, usually allow up to six hours of accredited electives. You can incorporate your interests and your life experiences into independent study or guided reading courses.
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Independent study courses that incorporate life experience are characterized by a greater emphasis on research or a focus on the theoretical foundations of your field of study. This is a fairly conservative approach to combining life experience and college credit.
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Many graduate degree programs, such as human relations, public administration, business administration, or counseling, require a supervised internship that culminates in a research paper or project. Degree-level credit hours awarded for internships vary, but range from 3 to 9 semester hours.
You may have taken graduate-level college courses at various colleges or universities in conjunction with your job or lifelong learning goals. Some master’s degree programs, especially those in interdisciplinary studies, allow students to combine courses into a single, integrated degree plan.
In some cases, it does not matter how or when the course was taken as long as the credits were transferred by an accredited institution of higher education and the grade earned is B- or better. Accumulating college credits in such a way that they form the building blocks or bulk of a degree program can significantly shorten the time to graduation. For example, some colleges accept 12 to 15 hours of transfer credit toward a 30- or 33-hour degree.
Military professionals must attend numerous schools and specialized training courses, many of which are rated by ACE and considered equivalent to graduate-level courses. Some military schools do not offer degrees, but the certificates and courses you earn can often be submitted for consideration in a master’s degree program.
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Credit for military training may seem a little odd until you look at the curriculum, instructional materials, and evaluations of specific courses, particularly in international relations, leadership, project management, and organizational behavior. So you might think they are similar to what is taught on college campuses. In some cases, military courses are more rigorous because there are frequent assessments and evaluations, and instructors may be world-renowned experts in the field.
Training equivalent to graduate-level courses offered by colleges may not be evaluated by ACE, but instead, is evaluated by a committee of faculty members from the college granting the credit. In these cases, students are required to submit a course description and syllabus in addition to a transcript.
Some master’s degree programs will accept credit by exam. There are usually limits to the number of hours a person can get, and they may include or touch upon areas of one’s professional life, such as accounting. For example, some colleges offer credit toward an MBA degree to students who participate in exam preparation, which includes studying for standardized tests like the CPA.
Sometimes, an accredited college or university will advertise that it offers college credit for life experience. This requires you to create a portfolio and show that your work and experience are similar to the results of college courses. Although life experience credit is acceptable in some circles at the undergraduate level, it is almost never accepted in graduate programs. Prospective students with years of experience often wonder why their self-directed study or business work is not equivalent to a degree. After four years of high school, you graduate with a high school diploma. After two to four years of graduate study, you earn a bachelor’s or associate’s degree. What comes next?
Differences Between Undergraduate And Graduate Programs
Take a moment to review the basic graduate school program types available after receiving your college degree.
Before going into all the differences, let’s first look at what all bachelor’s degrees have in common. The first step is to determine whether you are looking at a master’s or doctoral degree.
Generally, you can complete a master’s degree within two years and pursue it immediately after graduation. Earning a doctoral degree is more challenging, thus has more professional and social value.
A non-medical doctoral program can take at least four years to complete. A medical doctorate will take longer. Doctorates also have heavy requirements, the biggest with your thesis or final research project.
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Prepare for hours of research and writing to prepare your dissertation. Because of the incredible amount of work required of them and the fact that only 2% of Americans have ever earned a doctoral degree.
There are many different master’s degree programs available at almost every college or university. One of the most common is the Master of Business Administration, also known as an ‘MBA’.
Others you may hear discussed are Master of Arts (MA) and Master of Science (MS). Let’s take a quick look at each of them.
The Master of Business Administration (MBA) provides students with comprehensive training in all important aspects of business:
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Often, students who have a particular skill in mind choose it as a concentration for their degree.
Finally, a Master of Science (MS) covers industries related to science and mathematics. Not surprisingly, the wide range of fields covered by an MS degree include:
The social sciences sometimes offer an MS option, which requires candidates to focus more on research than their MA counterparts.
It is not uncommon for an MA and MS to crossover into other disciplines; However, the full MS track requires more research.
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Students pursuing a master’s degree in a new field often take an MA. Candidates pursuing a master’s degree in their undergraduate major often go with the MS option.
Doctoral degrees are known as “terminal degrees”. This means that you have received maximum education and training in the given field.
The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and Professional Doctorate degrees are the two primary doctoral degree types. The Doctor of Philosophy degree trains students to undertake academic work in their chosen discipline, including research and university-level teaching.
Students acquire knowledge in a specific field while developing their academic research skills. Ph.D. Programs are typically structured around specific classwork followed by exams. Students must pass the exam to continue.
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From then on, candidates start working on their thesis and immerse themselves in research. During that process, students must meet additional requirements:
Doctoral programs take a long time to complete. On average, you should expect to spend at least 4-6 years pursuing a Ph.D.
In addition to the PhD, professional doctoral degrees focus specifically on career skills. Students learn how to use research to find solutions to problems in their career fields.
Many professional doctoral candidates already work in their chosen field and are looking to advance their skill sets. These students are looking to advance their careers to the highest potential level possible.
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Generally, you can complete a master’s degree within two years and pursue it immediately after graduation.
The Master of Business Administration (MBA) provides students with comprehensive training in all important aspects of business, including operations, management, accounting, marketing and human resources.
The Doctor of Philosophy degree trains students to undertake academic work in their chosen discipline, including research and university-level teaching.
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Professional doctoral degrees focus specifically on career skills. Students learn how to use research to find solutions to problems in their career fields. Most professional doctoral candidates have already worked in their chosen field and are looking to advance their skill sets. The growth of accredited online graduate programs has had no effect on professional education. Just 20 years ago, online master’s degrees were a joke; Even the best online master’s programs were extremely limited and considered somewhat useless. What a difference a few years make. Today, earning an online master’s degree is not only common, but considered a smart career decision for working professionals who want to advance their careers.
Many things have changed, but the biggest difference is the arrival of regionally accredited, prestigious colleges and universities in the online higher education arena. For-profit diploma mills have sprung up, and they’ve never been able to compete with online degrees from real, trusted institutions. From small regional public colleges to elite private research universities, and everything in between, accredited online graduate programs have changed higher education for the better.
To determine the Top 25 Best Online Master’s Programs 2019, BMP editors conducted a broad but targeted search for regionally accredited colleges and universities that prioritize online education. This means not only finding the most online programs and institutions with the most online students, but the institutions that actively operate there
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