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What is the difference between an MA and an MSc degree?

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Put simply, an MSc (Master of Sciences) is a postgraduate degree in the fields of science, mathematics, medicine, and healthcare, while an MA (Master of Arts) is a postgraduate degree typically covering the fields of arts, humanities, social sciences, and business.

MSc vs MA: which is better?

The more important question is, what is your motivation for studying a postgraduate degree and what are you hoping to gain? It’s worth having a goal in mind when you consider this, such as a career path you want to follow. Are you applying for a job in a new field, and it requires you to hold a specific qualification? Or do you want to enhance your knowledge and skills in your current field so you can progress? Once you know the answer to these types of questions, you’ll know which degree you need to study.

For what it’s worth, one postgraduate qualification cannot be judged as ‘better’ than another – it all comes down to which course is best for you.

What other postgraduate qualifications are there?

As well as MAs and MScs, you could study for one of the following:

  • MBA (Master of Business Administration)
  • LLM Law (Master of Laws). A quick Latin lesson – LLM stands for ‘Latin Legum Magister’!
  • PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)
  • MPhil (Master of Philosophy)
  • DProf (Professional Doctorate)

Can I apply for an MSc if I hold a BA undergraduate degree (and vice versa)?

Yes, you can! It’s a misconception that you can only study a postgraduate course that is related to your undergraduate degree. It’s all about doing your research and checking the entry requirements carefully to see what is required.

In fact, many people come back to university to study for a postgraduate degree in a completely new area. For example, Jason Ortega came to Sunderland all the way from Tampa, Florida in the United States to study MA Design after working at Disney World for 13 years as an Entertainment Manager. You too could change career direction by studying a conversion course, an intensive postgraduate course where the entry requirements often state you can hold an undergraduate degree in any subject – perfect for a new start.

How can I find out more?

Check out our Postgraduate study page or join us on campus at our next Postgraduate Open Day to learn more about postgraduate degrees and studying at Sunderland.

Published: 18 July 2023