A Master of Science allows you to develop a high-level knowledge in a range of areas, such as technology, biology, chemistry, physics, computer science, and data analytics. Scientific concepts, techniques, and analytical methods are part of almost every field of study these days. Therefore, many programmes that used to be offered under the ‘Master of Arts’ banner are now treated as ‘science’ and fall under a ‘Master of Science’ (or MSc).
With so many diverse fields of study on offer, how do you choose the right one for you? And what else should you keep in mind when choosing a Master of Science programme?
Key Criteria for Choosing the Best Master of Science Programme
With so many options available, it can be difficult to know which is the right Master of Science for you. Here are some key criteria to keep in mind.
The Field of Study
Arguably, the most important consideration when choosing a Master of Science programme is the field of study. The discipline you choose should fit with your career goals, as well as be an area that is in demand in the current job market.
However, it’s equally important to choose a field that interests you – the more passionate you are about what you study, the easier it will be to succeed in your degree and the happier you will be, both during your studies and throughout your career.
Another key factor to consider is how long it takes to complete the degree. The duration of a Master of Science can vary greatly, from a year up to five years. This depends on a variety of factors, such as the institution, the individual programme, and whether you choose to study full-time or part-time.
You’ll need to balance the benefits of completing your programme faster with work and family commitments. For example, getting your master’s in two years or less will let you take your career to the next level faster, but studying part-time will let you keep working, even if it takes longer to get your degree.
The cost of the programme is another factor to consider. You shouldn’t let the cost dominate your decision over all other considerations, but you do need to stick within your budget.
Research the costs of different programmes, remembering to consider not only tuition but also any other programme fees, as well as external costs associated with your studies, such as transportation, books and other supplies, and accommodation. Generally speaking, online study involves fewer external costs as you won’t need to arrange transport or accommodation, for example.
Some universities offer options to combine your studies with other programmes. For example, there are integrated MS-Ph.D. programmes where you can work towards both a master’s and a doctorate. If you want to gain your PhD, these programmes can save you a lot of time in the long run.
Similarly, some institutions offer integrated BSc-MSc programmes, where you complete a Bachelor and Master of Science together. Again, this can be a big time-saver if you don’t have an undergraduate degree and already know you want an MSc qualification. There are also options to earn dual degrees, where you study master’s in another field alongside your MSc.
Mode of Delivery
Another factor to consider is the mode of delivery, namely whether you want to study on-campus or online, or through a hybrid programme with a combination of online and on-campus sessions. Similarly, part-time and full-time courses are available.
Generally speaking, online programmes are an excellent choice for working professionals. These flexible programmes allow you to balance your work, family, and study commitments while preparing to take your career to the next level.
Online vs On-campus Programmes
Beyond the flexible schedule, there are a number of differences between online and on-campus Master of Science programmes:
- Interaction: On-campus programmes allow you to interact in person with your teachers and other students. On the other hand, with online programmes, the course delivery is mostly through digital web platforms and you’ll typically interact with others through video, email, and messages.
- Structure: Most on-campus programmes have a fixed schedule where you need to attend classes at certain times. On the other hand, many online programmes are asynchronous, allowing you to study at your own pace. This offers greater flexibility but also means you need to be more motivated.
- Student Profile: Although student cohorts can vary between programmes, students in fully-online MSc programmes are more likely to be older, working professionals.
- Costs: The costs of both online and offline Master of science programmes can vary widely, but the tuition for both modes of study is generally comparable. However, on-campus study typically involves more associated expenses, such as transportation, meal, and accommodation in some cases.