After you complete your undergraduate work, the next step is to seek a master’s degree. Sometimes, folks get master’s degrees in the same major as they had as undergraduates. Sometimes, they seek such a degree in a related field. And, other times, they strive earn a graduate degree in something completely different than their original chosen field.
What is a Master’s Degree?
It’s a postgraduate degree. That means that you have to have already completed a bachelor’s program to qualify to attempt to earn such a degree. Usually, you can complete it in two years or less. There are, however, some degrees that require more than that. These would be the programs that require a thesis for earning the degree as well as all the required coursework.
What Are the Requirements to Seek a Master’s Degree?
Aside from the aforementioned bachelor’s degree, many graduate schools require grade point averages of a certain level, entrance examinations, references, and an application essay. There are three usual examinations, and applicants might have to complete one or more of these. They are the Graduate Record Examinations, the Graduate Management Admission Test, and the Miller Analogies Test. Each tests different areas of knowledge and critical thinking skills. Some programs might not require any of these three examinations, but that is fairly uncommon. It would be wise to contact the school that you’re planning to attend for graduate school to see what their entrance requirements are.
Most master’s degrees require between 30 and 80 credits to complete. There will be academic standards that students will have to meet. Many universities also offer online and hybrid programs that allow students to progress at their own speed within a reasonable framework even when full-time.
The Eight Best Universities to Earn a Master’s Degree
For 2023, worldwide, two of the top universities for graduate work are in England, Oxford and Cambridge. The top American university is Harvard. According to U.S. News and World Report, Harvard University ranks in the top five for graduate school in categories like education, management, international relations, and law. It’s been around for nearly 400 years, so this is not surprising.
The next American university on the list is Stanford University. It, too, ranks in the top five for business-related subjects like finance, management, and marketing. In law, it’s No. 2, behind only Harvard and Yale, both of which tied, and it’s No. 1 in engineering.
Coming in at No. 3 overall is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. As the name implies, the school focuses heavily on scientific study. It ranks No. 1 in information technology and business analytics, which includes data analysis. It’s also No. 1 in computer engineering and software development.
At No. 4, there is the California Institute of Technology, or CalTech. It’s famous not only for its rigorous academics, which earn it a No. 1 ranking in earth sciences and a No. 2 in chemistry, but also for its appearance in the TV show called “The Big Bang Theory.”
The No. 5 school is Princeton University. It’s No. 1 in both mathematics and physics and No. 2 in history. It also ranks in the top 10 in other major subject areas and is famous because Sir Andrew Wiles spent a lot of time there while working on solving Fermat’s Last Theorem.
The University of California at Berkeley is No. 6 on our list. It’s No. 1 in both psychology and history and is tied with CalTech at No. 2 in chemistry. Carolyn R. Bertozzi, a Nobel laureate, is one of the university’s most distinguished alumnae.
Yale University is seventh on the list. Yale is tied with Harvard No. 1 in law, and it’s No. 10 in medicine. It’s also No. 6 in biological sciences and No. 1 in English. Its rivalry with Harvard goes back more than 300 years.
The last school on our “Top 8” is Columbia University, which ranks in the top 10 in almost all fields of study. Lou Gehrig is perhaps the university’s most famous alumnus, having played his college baseball there.
How Do I Pick the Best Graduate School for Me?
As you can see from this list, these are all exemplary institutions. They are all regionally accredited by one of the major accrediting bodies, and that means that there is real substance behind the shiny rankings. Choosing from this list is akin to deciding whether to drive the Bentley or the Rolls today.
To figure out which school best suits you, look at how it performs regarding your chosen field of study. Visit the schools, if possible, and meet with both professors and students, former and current. Check to see what your prospective professors have published and which awards and other recognition they’ve earned.
If you plan to study online instead of at the campus, check to see if your chosen field of study is offered online at the school you like. If it’s not, then look at your No. 2 choice, etc.
See about financial aid. You might qualify for grants instead of loans at once school but not another, and this would be a prime consideration if you wanted to end your graduate school experience without any debt.
Generally, asking questions and doing proper research of the institutions in question are two fantastic places to begin. Good luck in your search for a graduate school from which to earn your master’s degree!