Master of Science

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Columbia University's Master of Science diploma Columbia University Master's Degree.jpg
Columbia University's Master of Science diploma
A graduation ring with the Master of Science designation Ringside.jpg
A graduation ring with the Master of Science designation

A Master of Science (Latin : Magister Scientiae; abbreviated MS, M.S., MSc, M.Sc., SM, S.M., ScM or Sc.M.) is a master's degree in the field of science. [1] In contrast to the Master of Arts degree, the Master of Science degree is typically granted for studies in sciences, engineering and medicine and is usually for programs that are more focused on scientific and mathematical subjects; however, different universities have different conventions and may also offer the degree for fields typically considered within the humanities and social sciences. While it ultimately depends upon the specific program, earning a Master of Science degree typically includes writing a thesis.


The Master of Science degree was introduced at the University of Michigan in 1858. [2] One of the first recipients of the degree was De Volson Wood, who was conferred a Master of Science degree at the University of Michigan in 1859. [3] [2]


Algeria follows the Bologna Process.


Australian universities commonly have coursework or research-based Master of Science courses for graduate students. They typically run for 1–2 years full-time, with varying amounts of research involved.


All Bangladeshi private and public universities have Master of Science courses as postgraduate degree. These include most of the major state-owned colleges. A number of private colleges also do offer MS degrees. After passing Bachelor of Science, any student becomes eligible to study in this discipline.


Like all EU member states, Belgium follows the Bologna Process. In Belgium, the typical university track involved obtaining two degrees, being a two-year Kandidaat prerequisite track (replaced by Bachelor ) followed by a two- or three-year Licentiaat track. The latter was replaced by the Master of Science (M.Sc.) academic degree. This system was not exclusive to scientific degrees and was also used for other programs like law and literature.


In Canada, Master of Science (MSc) degrees may be entirely course-based, entirely research-based or (more typically) a mixture. Master's programs typically take one to three years to complete and the completion of a scientific thesis is often required. Admission to a master's program is contingent upon holding a four-year university bachelor's degree. Some universities require a master's degree in order to progress to a doctoral program (PhD).


In the province of Quebec, the Master of Science follows the same principles as in the rest of Canada. There is one exception, however, regarding admission to a master's program. Since Québécois students complete two to three years of college before entering university, they have the opportunity to complete a bachelor's degree in three years instead of four. Some undergraduate degrees such as the Bachelor of Education and the Bachelor of Engineering requires four years of study. Following the obtention of their bachelor's degree, students can be admitted into a graduate program to eventually obtain a master's degree.

While some students complete their master's program, others use it as a bridge to doctoral research programs. After one year of study and research in the master's program, many students become eligible to apply to a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program directly, without obtaining the Master of Science degree in the first place.


Commonly the Chilean universities have used "Magíster" for a master's degree, but other than that is similar to the rest of South America.

Cyprus, Republic of

Like all EU member states, the Republic of Cyprus follow the Bologna Process. Universities in Cyprus have used either "Magíster Scientiae or Artium" or Master of Arts/Science for a master's degree with 90 to 120 ECTS and duration of studies between 1, 2 and 5 years.

Czech Republic and Slovakia

Like all EU member states, Czech Republic and Slovakia follow the Bologna Process. Czech Republic and Slovakia both award two different types of master's degrees; both award a title of Mgr. or Ing. to be used before the name.

Prior to reforms for compliance with the Bologna process, a master's degree could only be obtained after 5 years of uninterrupted study. Under the new system, it takes only 2 years but requires a previously completed 3-year bachelor's program (a Bc. title). Writing a thesis (in both master's and bachelor's programs) and passing final exams are necessary to obtain the degree. It is mostly the case that the final exams cover the main study areas of the whole study program, i.e. a student is required to prove their knowledge in the subjects they attended during the 2 resp. 3 years of their study. Exams also include the defence of a thesis before an academic board.

Ing. (Engineer) degrees are usually awarded for master's degrees achieved in the Natural Sciences or Mathematics-heavy study programmes, whereas an Mgr. (Magister) is generally awarded for Master's studies in social sciences, humanities and the arts.


The Master of Science (M.Sc.) is an academic degree for post-graduate candidates or researchers, it usually takes from 4 to 7 years after passing the Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree. Master programs are awarded in many sciences in the Egyptian Universities. A completion of the degree requires finishing a pre-master studies followed by a scientific thesis or research. All M.Sc. degree holders are allowable to take a step forward in the academic track to get the PhD degree.


Like all EU member states, Finland follows the Bologna Process. The Master of Science (M.Sc.) academic degree usually follows the Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) studies which typically last five years. For the completion of both the bachelor and the master studies the student must accumulate a total of 300 ECTS credits, thus most Masters programs are two-year programs with 120 credits. The completion of a scientific thesis is required.


Like all EU member states, Germany follows the Bologna Process. The Master of Science (M.Sc.) academic degree replaces the once common Diplom or Magister programs that typically lasted four to five years. It is awarded in science-related studies with a high percentage of mathematics. For the completion the student must accumulate 300 ECTS Credits, thus most Masters programs are two-year programs with 120 credits. The completion of a scientific thesis is required.

South America

In Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela, the Master of Science or Magister is a postgraduate degree lasting two to four years. [4] The admission to a master's program (Spanish: Licenciatura ; Portuguese: Mestrado) requires the full completion of a four to five year long undergraduate degree, bachelor's degree, engineer's degree or a licentiate of the same length. Defense of a research thesis is required. All master's degrees qualify for a doctorate program. Depending on the country, one ECTS credit point can equal on average between 22 and 30 actual study hours. In most of these cases, the number of required attendance hours to the university classes will be at least half of that (one ECTS will mean around 11 to 15 mandatory hours of on-site classes). [5]

Southeastern Europe

In Slavic countries in European southeast (particularly former Yugoslavian republics), the education system was largely based on the German university system (largely due to the presence and influence of the Austria-Hungary Empire [6] in the region). Prior to the implementation of the Bologna Process, academic university studies comprised a 4–5 year-long graduate diplom program, which could have been followed by a 2–4 year long magistar program and then later with 2–5 year long doctor of science program.

After the Bologna Process implementation, again based on the German implementation, Diplom titles and programs were replaced by entirely professional bachelor's and master's programs. The studies are structured such that a master program lasts long enough for the student to accumulate a total of 120 ECTS credits, so its duration would depend on a number of credits acquired during the bachelor studies. Pre-Bologna magistar programs were abandoned – after earning an M.Sc. degree and satisfying other academic requirements a student could proceed to earn a doctor of science degree directly, or skip M.Sc. if the diplom program lasted more than 3 years as it was possible to do so for some time.


In Guyana, all universities, including University of Guyana, Texila American University, American International School of Medicine have Master of Science courses as postgraduate degrees. Students who have completed undergraduate Bachelor of Science degree are eligible to study in this discipline.


In India, universities offer MS programs usually in sciences discipline. Generally, post-graduate scientific courses lead to MS degree while post-graduate engineering courses lead to ME or MTech degree. For example, a master's in automotive engineering would normally be an ME or MTech, while a master's in physics would be an MS. A few top universities also offer combined undergraduate-postgraduate programs leading to a master's degree which is known as integrated masters.

A Master of Science in Engineering (MS.Engg.) degree is also offered in India. It is usually structured as an engineering research degree, lesser than PhD and considered to be parallel to M.Phil. degree in humanities and science. Some institutes such as IITs offer an MS degree for postgraduate engineering courses. This degree is considered a research-oriented degree whereas MTech or ME degree is usually not a research degree in India. MS degree is also awarded by various IISERs which are one of the top institutes in India.


In Iran, similar to Canada, Master of Science (MSc) or in Iranian form Karshenasi-arshad degrees may be entirely course-based, entirely research-based or most commonly a mixture. Master's programs typically take two to three years to complete and the completion of a scientific thesis is often required.


Like all EU member states, Ireland follows the Bologna Process. In Ireland, Master of Science (MSc) may be course-based with a research component or entirely research based. The program is most commonly a one-year program and a thesis is required for both course-based and research based degrees.


In Israel, Master of Science (MSc) may be entirely course-based or include research. The program is most commonly a two-year program and a thesis is required only for research based degrees.


Like all EU member states, Italy follows the Bologna Process. The degree Master of Science is awarded in the Italian form, Laurea Magistrale (formerly Laurea specialistica; before the introduction of the Laurea the corresponding degree was Laurea quinquennale or Vecchio Ordinamento).


In Nepal, universities offer the Master of Science degree usually in science and engineering areas. Tribhuvan University offers MSc degree for all the science and engineering courses. Pokhara University and Purbanchal University offer ME for engineering and MSc for science. Kathmandu University offers MS by Research and ME degrees for science and engineering.


Like all EU member states, the Netherlands follows the Bologna Process. In the past graduates of applied universities (HBO) were excluded from using titles such as MSc, as HBO institutions are formally not universities but polytechnic institutions of higher education. However, since 2014 academic titles are granted to any university graduate. [7]

However, older academic titles used in the Netherlands are:

The bearers of these titles can use either the older title, of MSc, LL.M or MA but not both for the same field of study.

New Zealand

New Zealand universities commonly have coursework or research-based Master of Science courses for graduate students. They typically run for 2 years full-time, with varying amounts of research involved.


Norway follows the Bologna Process. For engineering, the Master of Science academic degree has been recently introduced and has replaced the previous award forms "Sivilingeniør" (engineer, a.k.a. engineering master) and "Hovedfag" (academic master). Both were awarded after 5 years of university-level studies and required the completion of a scientific thesis.

"", is a protected title exclusively awarded to engineering students who completed a five-year education at The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (Norwegian : Norges teknisk-naturvitenskapelige universitet, NTNU) or other universities. Historically there was no bachelor's degree involved and today's program is a five years master's degree education. The "" title is in the process of being phased out, replaced by (for now, complemented by) the "M.Sc." title. By and large, "" is a title tightly being held on to for the sake of tradition. In academia, the new program offers separate three-year bachelor and two-year master programs. It is awarded in the natural sciences, mathematics and computer science fields. The completion of a scientific thesis is required. All master's degrees are designed to certify a level of education and qualify for a doctorate program.

Master of Science in Business is the English title for those taking a higher business degree, "Siviløkonom" in Norwegian. In addition, there is, for example, the 'Master of Business Administration' (MBA), a practically oriented master's degree in business, but with less mathematics and econometrics, due to its less specific entry requirements and smaller focus on research.


Pakistan inherited its conventions pertaining to higher education from United Kingdom after independence in 1947. Master of Science degree is typically abbreviated as M.Sc. (as in the United Kingdom) and which is awarded after 16 years of education (equivalent with a bachelor's degree in the US and many other countries). Recently, in pursuance to some of the reforms by the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (the regulatory body of higher education in Pakistan), the traditional 2-year Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree has been replaced by the 4-year Bachelor of Science degree, which is abbreviated as B.S. to enable the Pakistani degrees with the rest of the world.[ clarification needed ] Subsequently, students who pass a 4-year B.S. degree that is awarded after 16 years of education are then eligible to apply for M.S. degree, which is considered at par with Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.) degree.[ clarification needed ]


Like all EU member states, Poland follows the Bologna Process. The Polish equivalent of Master of Science is "magister" (abbreviated "mgr", written pre-nominally much like "Dr"). Starting in 2001, the MSc programs typically lasting 5 years began to be replaced as below:

The degree is awarded predominantly in the natural sciences, mathematics, computer science, economics, as well as in the arts and other disciplines. Those who graduate from an engineering program prior to being awarded a master's degree are allowed to use the "mgr inż." pre-nominal ("master engineer"). This is most common in engineering and agricultural fields of study. Defense of a research thesis is required. All master's degrees in Poland qualify for a doctorate program.


The title of "master" was introduced by Alexander I at 24 January 1803. The Master had an intermediate position between the candidate and doctor according to the decree "About colleges structure". The master's degree was abolished from 1917 to 1934. Russia follows the Bologna Process for higher education in Europe since 2011.


Like all EU member states, Spain follows the Bologna Process. The Master of Science (MSc) degree is a program officially recognized by the Spanish Ministry of Education. It usually involves 1 or 2 years of full-time study. It is targeted at pre-experience candidates who have recently finished their undergraduate studies. An MSc degree can be awarded in every field of study. An MSc degree is required in order to progress to a PhD. MSci, MPhil and DEA are equivalent in Spain.


Like all EU member states, Sweden follows the Bologna Process. The Master of Science academic degree has, like in Germany, recently been introduced in Sweden. Students studying Master of Science in Engineering programs are rewarded both the English Master of Science Degree, but also the Swedish equivalent "Teknologisk masterexamen". Whilst "Civilingenjör" is an at least five year long education. [8]


The Master of Science is a degree that can be studied only in public universities. The program is usually 2 years, but it can be extended to 3 or 4 years. The student is required to pass a specific bachelor's degree to attend a specific Master of Science degree program. The master of science is mostly a research degree, except for some types of programs held with cooperation of foreign universities. The student typically attends courses in the first year of the program and should then prepare a research thesis. Publishing two research papers is recommended and will increase the final evaluation grade.[ according to whom? ]

United Kingdom

The Master of Science (MSc) is typically a taught postgraduate degree, involving lectures, examinations and a project dissertation (normally taking up a third of the program). Master's programs usually involve a minimum of 1 year of full-time study (180 UK credits, of which 150 must be at master's level) and sometimes up to 2 years of full-time study (or the equivalent period part-time). [9] Taught master's degrees are normally classified into Pass, Merit and Distinction (although some universities do not give Merit). [10] Some universities also offer MSc by research programs, where a longer project or set of projects is undertaken full-time; master's degrees by research are normally pass/fail, although some universities may offer a distinction. [6] [11]

The more recent Master in Science (MSci or M.Sci.) degree (Master of Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge [12] ), is an undergraduate (UG) level integrated master's degree offered by UK institutions since the 1990s. It is offered as a first degree with the first three (four in Scotland) years similar to a BSc course and a final year (120 UK credits) at master's level, including a dissertation. [9] [13] The final MSci qualification is thus at the same level as a traditional MSc. [14]

United States

The Master of Science (Magister Scientiæ) degree is normally a full-time two-year degree often abbreviated "MS" or "M.S." It is the primary type in most subjects and may be entirely course-based, entirely research-based or (more typically) a combination of the two. The combination often involves writing and defending a thesis or completing a research project which represents the culmination of the material learned.

Admission to a master's program is normally contingent upon holding a bachelor's degree and progressing to a doctoral program may require a master's degree. In some fields or graduate programs, work on a doctorate can begin immediately after the bachelor's degree. Some programs provide for a joint bachelor's and master's degree after about five years. Some universities use the Latin degree names and due to the flexibility of word order in Latin, Artium Magister (A.M.) or Scientiæ Magister (S.M. or Sc.M.) may be used in some institutions.

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Postgraduate education</span> Phase of higher education

Postgraduate education, graduate education, or grad school consists of academic or professional degrees, certificates, diplomas, or other qualifications usually pursued by post-secondary students who have earned an undergraduate (bachelor's) degree.

An academic degree is a qualification awarded to a student upon successful completion of a course of study in higher education, usually at a college or university. These institutions often offer degrees at various levels, usually divided into undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. The most common undergraduate degree is the bachelor's degree, although some educational systems offer lower level undergraduate degrees such as associate and foundation degrees. Common postgraduate degrees include master's degrees and doctorates.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Master's degree</span> Postgraduate academic degree

A master's degree is a postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities or colleges upon completion of a course of study demonstrating mastery or a high-order overview of a specific field of study or area of professional practice. A master's degree normally requires previous study at the bachelor's level, either as a separate degree or as part of an integrated course. Within the area studied, master's graduates are expected to possess advanced knowledge of a specialized body of theoretical and applied topics; high order skills in analysis, critical evaluation, or professional application; and the ability to solve complex problems and think rigorously and independently.

A bachelor's degree or baccalaureate is an undergraduate academic degree awarded by colleges and universities upon completion of a course of study lasting three to six years. The two most common bachelor's degrees are the Bachelor of Arts (BA) and the Bachelor of Science. In some institutions and educational systems, certain bachelor's degrees can only be taken as graduate or postgraduate educations after a first degree has been completed, although more commonly the successful completion of a bachelor's degree is a prerequisite for further courses such as a master's or a doctorate.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Doctorate</span> Academic or professional degree

A doctorate or doctoral degree is a postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities and some other educational institutions, derived from the ancient formalism licentia docendi.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thesis</span> Document submitted in support of candidature for an academic degree

A thesis, or dissertation, is a document submitted in support of candidature for an academic degree or professional qualification presenting the author's research and findings. In some contexts, the word thesis or a cognate is used for part of a bachelor's or master's course, while dissertation is normally applied to a doctorate. This is the typical arrangement in American English. In other contexts, such as within most institutions of the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, the reverse is true. The term graduate thesis is sometimes used to refer to both master's theses and doctoral dissertations.

Degree abbreviations are used as an alternative way to specify an academic degree instead of spelling out the title in full, such as in reference books such as Who's Who and on business cards. Many degree titles have more than one possible abbreviation, with the abbreviation used varying between different universities. In the UK it is normal not to punctuate abbreviations for degrees with full stops, although this is done at some universities.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bologna Process</span> System for compatibility of higher education qualifications in the European region

The Bologna Process is a series of ministerial meetings and agreements between European countries to ensure comparability in the standards and quality of higher-education qualifications. The process has created the European Higher Education Area under the Lisbon Recognition Convention. It is named after the University of Bologna, where the Bologna declaration was signed by education ministers from 29 European countries in 1999. The process was opened to other countries in the European Cultural Convention of the Council of Europe, and government meetings have been held in Prague (2001), Berlin (2003), Bergen (2005), London (2007), Leuven (2009), Budapest-Vienna (2010), Bucharest (2012), Yerevan (2015), Paris (2018), and Rome (2020).

Doctor of Medicine is a medical degree, the meaning of which varies between different jurisdictions. In the United States, and some other countries, the M.D. denotes a professional degree. This generally arose because many in 18th-century medical professions trained in Scotland, which used the M.D. degree nomenclature. In England, however, Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (M.B.B.S.) was used and eventually in the 19th century became the standard in Scotland too. Thus, in the United Kingdom, Ireland and other countries, the M.D. is a research doctorate, honorary doctorate or applied clinical degree restricted to those who already hold a professional degree (Bachelor's/Master's/Doctoral) in medicine. In those countries, the equivalent professional degree to the North American, and some others' usage of M.D. is still typically titled Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery.

A Doctor of Pharmacy is a professional doctorate in pharmacy. In some countries, it is a doctoral degree to practice the profession of pharmacy or to become a clinical pharmacist. In many countries, people with their Doctor of Pharmacy are allowed to practice independently and can prescribe drugs directly to patients. A PharmD program has significant experiential and/or clinical education components in introductory and advanced levels for the safe and effective use of drugs. Experiential education prepares graduates to be practice-ready, as they already have spent a significant amount of time training in areas of direct patient care and research.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Licentiate (degree)</span> Academic degree similar to masters degree

A licentiate is an academic degree present in many countries, representing different educational levels. It may be similar to a master's degree when issued by pontifical universities and other universities in Europe, Latin America, and Syria.

A Master of Engineering is a professional master's degree in the field of engineering.

An engineer's degree is an advanced academic degree in engineering which is conferred in Europe, some countries of Latin America, North Africa and a few institutions in the United States. The degree may require a thesis but always requires a non-abstract project.

A Diplom is an academic degree in the German-speaking countries Germany, Austria, and Switzerland and a similarly named degree in some other European countries including Albania, Bulgaria, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Estonia, Finland, Poland, Russia, and Ukraine and only for engineers in France, Greece, Hungary, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, and Brazil.

A Master of Philosophy is a postgraduate degree. An MPhil may be awarded to postgraduate students after completing taught coursework and one to two years of original research, which may also serve as a provisional enrolment for a PhD programme.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Master of Arts</span> Type of masters degree in the fields of humanities and social sciences

A Master of Arts is the holder of a master's degree awarded by universities in many countries. The degree is usually contrasted with that of Master of Science. Those admitted to the degree have typically studied subjects within the scope of the humanities and social sciences, such as history, literature, languages, linguistics, public administration, political science, communication studies, law or diplomacy; however, different universities have different conventions and may also offer the degree for fields typically considered within the natural sciences and mathematics. The degree can be conferred in respect of completing courses and passing examinations, research, or a combination of the two.

Engineering education is the activity of teaching knowledge and principles to the professional practice of engineering. It includes an initial education, and any advanced education and specializations that follow. Engineering education is typically accompanied by additional postgraduate examinations and supervised training as the requirements for a professional engineering license. The length of education, and training to qualify as a basic professional engineer, is typically 5 years, with 15–20 years for an engineer who takes responsibility for major projects.

A magister degree is an academic degree used in various systems of higher education.

Master's degrees in Europe are the second cycle of the Bologna process, following on from undergraduate bachelor's degrees and preceding third cycle doctorates. Master's degrees typically take two years to complete, although the number of years varies between countries, and correspond to 60 – 120 ECTS credits. Within the European Higher Education Area, representing almost all countries in Europe, master's degrees are referenced to the Framework of Qualifications for the European Higher Education Area and national qualifications frameworks.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bachelor of Science</span> Type of bachelors degree

A Bachelor of Science is a bachelor's degree awarded for programs that generally last three to five years.


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