What is the Difference Between a Master of Arts and a Master of Science?

Before you apply to an advanced degree program, take some time to learn the differences between an M.S. and an M.A. program. A Master of Arts program and a Master of Science program are two different academic degrees that focus on very different coursework, even when you are mastering in the very same discipline. Students must consider their strengths, their interests, and the path that they plan on taking once they graduate with a Master’s degree to make the best selection. Read on, and learn what the primary differences between an M.A. and a M.S. degree are so that you can make an educated decision regarding your higher education.

The Difference is All in the Approach

Just like an M.A. degree, an M.S. degree is a master’s level and advanced terminal degree that will help open up opportunities for you in virtually all industries and fields. While both degrees will help show that you are an educated and a distinguished professional, the difference between each type of degree that is awarded in a specific discipline is the approach that the faculty will take and what courses that the program will require.

If you were to enroll in a Master of Arts program, you will be required to take more humanities courses, like English, Art, Music and History, to meet the program requirements for graduation. If you are planning to take a Master of Science program, you will take more math and science courses like courses in Biology, Health Sciences, Chemistry and Physics. For students who are majoring in a scientific discipline, taking a Master of Science may be the best option, but some Master of Arts programs are still available for science majors in areas like Counseling and Psychology.

Related: 25 Great Scholarships for Counseling Majors

Considering Your Strengths

When you are trying to decide which degree path is right for you, it is best to consider your academic strengths. While some students are talented in all areas of academics, most students are either strong in arts or strong in science. You will be taking upper level courses that cover advanced materials, and you need to be sure that you are prepared to comprehend the lectures and to pass the comprehensive exams. If you struggle with math, taking an M.A. program may give you a better chance to grasp material. Be aware that you will have math requirements, but the focus will not be on math and science.

Considering Your Future Career Goals

In many professions, it does not matter whether you choose a Master of Science or a Master of Arts program. While this is true, if you plan to work in a field where there are strong communications requirements, having an M.A. is ideal. On the other hand, employers hiring scientific disciplines tend to prefer candidates with M.S. degrees. In fact, some employers believe that the M.S. terminal degree is more prestigious than an M.A..

It is not necessarily the type of degree that you need to focus on, it is really the major. With unemployment rates coming in at 8.2%, many graduates are expected to be stuck looking for an upper level job at the same time. Choose a highly desired major and then you can choose the program based on what you have learned about the difference between an M.S. and an M.A. degree program.