Prerequisites for Masters Degree Programs

Prior to enrolling in a master's degree program, students need to hold a bachelor's degree. Some graduate programs require that the student's undergraduate education be in a related field, while others accept any bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. View article »

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  • 0:04 Master's Degree Prerequisites
  • 1:22 Master's Degree Types
  • 2:04 Career and Salary Info

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Master's Degree Prerequisites

Prerequisites for master's degree programs vary based on the program and the school. The minimum admissions requirement is a bachelor's degree, but students may also need to meet other minimum GPA requirements, or they may need to have majored in a certain field or completed certain courses during their undergraduate education. Some master's degree programs also require incoming students to have previous professional experience. In addition, students need to submit specific application materials. Again, they vary by school and by program, but standard application requirements include:

  • College transcripts
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Personal essays, often about educational and/or career goals
  • Standardized tests, such as the GRE, GMAT, and/or TOEFL

The GRE (Graduate Record Examination) assesses a student's readiness to tackle graduate-level work; the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) is required for students interested in business; and the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) measures a foreign student's ability to communicate in English.

Master's Degree Types

A master's degree is one of four main degree types in the United States, along with associate's, bachelor's, and doctoral degrees. The length of a program is usually 1-2 years. Many schools require master's degree candidates to complete a thesis, or research paper, before they can graduate, although some programs offer a non-thesis option. Numerous kinds of master's degree programs exist, such as:

  • Master of Science
  • Master of Arts
  • Master of Fine Arts
  • Master of Social Work
  • Master of Music
  • Master of Business Administration
  • Master of Education

Career and Salary Info

According to PayScale.com, some of the highest-paying jobs for individuals with a master's degree include:

  • Nurse anesthetist
  • Computer scientist
  • Operations researcher
  • Electrical engineer
  • Tax professional

For these workers, expected early career pay is as follows, as of 2017:

Nurse anesthetist $140,000
Computer scientist $95,900
Operations researcher $80,800
Electrical engineer $79,500
Tax professional $61,600


Depending on the program and the degree type, master's degree prerequisites vary, but the most common prerequisite is a bachelor's degree. Other possible prerequisites and admission requirements include GRE or other standardized test scores, a minimum GPA, specific undergraduate coursework, or professional experience.

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