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  #1  
Old 03-01-2003, 10:22 AM
TlighT TlighT is offline
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Difference between a MA / MS degree.

I was wondering what the difference is between a MA and a MS degree (in the US and countries with a similar bachelor/master system). Especially if one degree is considered "more" than the other (in terms of prestige and salary).
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  #2  
Old 03-01-2003, 10:28 AM
KneadToKnow KneadToKnow is offline
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It depends on the field. You (usually) get a Master of Arts in one of the liberal arts fields, and a Master of Science in the science fields. I.e., you would get an MA in History, but an MS in Chemistry.

Hope this helps.
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  #3  
Old 03-01-2003, 10:31 AM
Davebear Davebear is offline
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The only difference is MA stands for Master of Art and MS stands for Master of Science. They are equally difficult to acquire. One may be considered more appropriate for a given profession than the other, but they are equally prestigious. Salaries are dependent on the field in which one works. So, Arts fields (writing, painting, teaching, etc.) being notoriously underpaid, an MS is more likely to lead to a well-paid profession, but it isn't a guarantee. In all cases, it depends on what you do with it and how good you are at what you do.
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Old 03-01-2003, 10:32 AM
capybara capybara is offline
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Doesn't it just depend on the "major" the degree is given in-- roughly humanities/ "soft-sciences" versus sciences? English lit will always be a MA, and a Astrophysics degree will always be an MS (but there are probably a couple in the middle where it depends on your emphasis). MS probably has higher perceived prestige (does it?) and salary (likely, onaverage) because of the fields it is associated with. "I am a ROCKET SCIENTIST!" "Oh, yeah, well, I'm an art historian. . . oh, wait. . ."
MBA of course is business and MFA "fine arts"-- a studio degree.
Any other ideas?
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Old 03-01-2003, 10:33 AM
capybara capybara is offline
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Uh. . . what they said. Damn near-simul-posts.
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Old 03-01-2003, 10:36 AM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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I would add that one is not "higher" than the other although MS degrees may be seen to be more rigorous because of the nature of the disciplines that offer them. It is probably easier to get a higher paying job with an MS also but that is just because there are more demaqnd in industry for chemists than for say, experts on Victorian literature but that assumes that you get a job strictly related to your degree. Many people with MA's in liberal arts subjects do wuite well in business but it may require some creativity and flexibility to apply the skills learned.

You can't always tell whether the degree granted by a particular subject will be an MA or an MS just by guessing. Some psychology programs, for example, may grant MS degrees while others give MA degrees. This is sometimes even divided among subtypes of programs at the same school (experimental psych vs counseling psych for example).
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Old 03-01-2003, 10:40 AM
InternetLegend InternetLegend is offline
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I don't know if the hard/soft science divide between Arts and Sciences still exists. Looking around at different grad school programs, it seems that you can often get either an MA or an MS in the same field, although it does seem like the applied sciences offer MS programs and theoretical sciences offer MAs. For instance, one school I looked at offered an MA in math, an MS in applied mathematics, and an MA in statistical mathematics.

From Binghamton University:
Quote:
What is the difference between MA and MS degrees?

In terms of pay scale by an employer, there is no difference. Instead, the employer will adjust salary of someone with a Masters based on experience and background that the person has and which is desirable to the employer. Some universities have a research versus a non-thesis option within the MA program; others have a non-thesis MA and a research thesis MS. If you are preparing for a career that requires substantial research experience, then you should opt for a research thesis MA or MS.
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Old 03-01-2003, 10:57 AM
InternetLegend InternetLegend is offline
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It's nice to know we're all alert and in research mode at this hour on a Saturday morning, isn't it?
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Old 03-01-2003, 12:50 PM
peepthis peepthis is offline
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And then of course there are some subjects in which you can earn either an MA or an MS. Psychology comes to mind as one example, where you can receive an MS instead of an MA for completing a more scientifically-oriented course of study (which require more math, bio, etc). Which one you pursue depends of course on what career path you're pursuing.
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Old 03-01-2003, 01:27 PM
magog magog is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by capybara
Doesn't it just depend on the "major" the degree is given in-- roughly humanities/ "soft-sciences" versus sciences? English lit will always be a MA, and a Astrophysics degree will always be an MS
Actually, I have my MS in English - this document talks about the difference at Illinois State. Basically, it's the same requirements except the MA requires foreign language proficiency, and is recommended if you're going for your doctorate.
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Old 03-01-2003, 01:48 PM
Achernar Achernar is offline
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A degree from Mississippi is definitely worth more than one from Massachusetts.

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Old 03-01-2003, 04:03 PM
eponymous eponymous is offline
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Originally posted by peepthis

Quote:
And then of course there are some subjects in which you can earn either an MA or an MS. Psychology comes to mind as one example, where you can receive an MS instead of an MA for completing a more scientifically-oriented course of study (which require more math, bio, etc). Which one you pursue depends of course on what career path you're pursuing. [/B]
Likewise for geography - in some departments you can earn either an MA or MS depending on one's field of specialization. At Ohio State (where I attended graduate school), people working towards MA's were involved in the urban and regional, cartography, GIS, or quantitative methods/techniques tract. Those working towards MS's were in the atmospheric science/climatology tract. Although both MA and MS tracts involved completing a fair amount of math, statistical/quantitative methods/techniques courses (MS tract had a couple more math/stat class requirements - for example, upper level calculus - than the MA tract).
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Old 03-01-2003, 04:14 PM
Topologist Topologist is offline
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The school at which I teach offers both an MA in mathematics and an MS in applied mathematics. The MS is somewhat more rigorous in that it requires more classwork and also requires a thesis, where the MA has the option of an oral exam in place of a thesis.

The gist of all of these comments seems to be that usage varies by discipline and school.
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Old 03-01-2003, 06:37 PM
PurplePerson PurplePerson is offline
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I was told that with a MA, you can get a job almost anywhere. Well, I am pretty much qualified to work at Burger King with no other usable skills.

My degree is in Vocal Performance. I can teach private lessons and that is about it. I must have an MS to teach in grammer or hightschool.

A doctorate is usually needed for teaching college.

A person needs to know concretely what they can actually do with their major before persuing it. The blanket statement that a person with an MA can get any job is simply not true.
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  #15  
Old 03-01-2003, 07:25 PM
The Tim The Tim is offline
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MA vs MS, and BA vs BS for that matter, is mostly a matter of the peripheral requirements of the college/program. For instance I'm in the BA/MA program for Cognitive Psychology at my university and the main reason why I'm not receiving a BA/MS or BS/MS is that the core requirements of the school are highly slanted towards the liberal arts. At least twice as many of the required credits are from liberal arts than from hard science. From my understanding of my university however departments it seems sort themselves based on the credit distribuition of the required courses. Of course it is so insane here that you can be awarded majors without degrees and other bizarre events.

While schools vary of course I have noticed in other programs I've looked at that it seems mostly the same sort of issue if expressed slightly differently. That is the balance of required courses is the deciding factor. I definitely don't think an MA is accurate for the program. As a result of the program I know far more about "crunchy" subjects (computer science, neurophysiology, neural network modeling, data analysis/statistics, etc) than about what most people think of as liberal arts (literature, history, art, etc). I think the whole distinction is fairly arbitrary and non-sensical. Of course that's the case with everything in academia.
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Old 03-01-2003, 07:47 PM
Nametag Nametag is offline
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Two observations:

Most MA's did their research in the library; most MS's did their research in the laboratory.

I know a guy who has an MS in political science, f'r god's sake. He got the MS instead of the MA by taking calculus. No, I am not kidding.
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  #17  
Old 03-02-2003, 08:20 AM
chorpler chorpler is online now
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I recently read a guy's biographical tale of working at an evil Silicon Valley startup in which there was a scene where he informed his new boss that he had gotten a Bachelor of Arts degree in Computer Science. I wondered how the requirements for that differed from a BS...
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  #18  
Old 03-02-2003, 08:45 AM
KarlGrenze KarlGrenze is offline
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chorpler, perhaps more electives in liberal arts than in sciences/maths. The core courses were probably the same.
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Old 03-02-2003, 01:21 PM
Nametag Nametag is offline
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Actually, there are some colleges chartered to give BA degrees, and nothing else. My own college, UC Berkeley's College of Letters and Science, grants only BA degrees. Confuses the hell out of some people when they hear about my BA in Biophysics...
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Old 03-02-2003, 01:30 PM
PurplePerson PurplePerson is offline
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So how does the general BA degree with all of its balances to all arts, prepare someone better for a job than a BS? The BS concentrates itself more on the true subject. The BA concentrates less on the major in order to make a well rounded person.

Obviously my BA has not served me well. It basically gave me no skill, unless I persued it on to a doctorate. My MA does not provide much in the way of skills either. It seems that it is doctorate or nothing and then the doctorate doesn't even need to be in a related field. (However, that would be helpful.)
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Old 03-02-2003, 01:52 PM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is offline
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There is no consistency about whether a college awards a B.A. or a B.S. for its degrees (and a few colleges award an A.B.). Some colleges use one name and some use another, while some make differences between the two degrees. There's no consistency about the way in which a college gives B.A.'s or B.S.'s to different students either.

PurplePerson, if your degree hasn't served you well, it has nothing to do with whether it's a B.A. or a B.S. It's mostly a matter of what you majored in at college. It may also be a matter of your grades or what college you went to or your inflated expectations of what the degree would get you. Furthermore, a lot of what determines what job you get is about knowing how to look for the appropriate jobs. And, of course, a lot of it is about knowing the right people. It's often important to have friends or relatives who know where the job openings are.
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  #22  
Old 03-02-2003, 02:57 PM
PurplePerson PurplePerson is offline
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My degree did not serve me well because when I went to graduate school I had to take all of the music classes I missed by getting a BA. I was an A student and am in "Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities" (if that actually means anything).

A BS in music is much more seviceable. I could have at least taught in a public school with that, but I was not told that as a kid entering college. I was told that with a BA you get a job anywhere. I needed the BS to lead me to a practicle job. One in a million performance majors make a living at it.
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  #23  
Old 03-02-2003, 04:19 PM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is offline
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To teach in a public high school or elementary school, you need to take the appropriate courses on teaching. The degree most people take to get such jobs in a Bachelor of Science in Education, but the important thing is what teaching courses you take. A state certification board doesn't care what your degree was called. They just need to be sure that you took the appropriate courses on teaching.

If someone told you that you can make a living in music just by getting a degree in it, they were lying, and you were gullible. Most people who call themselves musicians are just doing it part-time and working other jobs. If you still want to do something in music, go back to college and take the education courses necessary to get your teaching certificate. You can't be guaranteed a job when you get a bachelor's degree in art, philosophy, anthropology, history, or any of a number of other fields either. There are no guarantees in life in general.
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  #24  
Old 03-02-2003, 04:27 PM
PurplePerson PurplePerson is offline
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I was gullable and ignorant, 29 years ago, and I am working at another job that I absolutely love, and I teach private music lessons on the side. I am happy now, but if had I been better informed when I was 18, I probably would have done things differently.

The sky is the limit when you don't know where you are going. But sometimes it works out better that way. I did what I loved.
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