Why don't many US universities have M.A. programs anymore?

Ok, some caveats:

  1. yes, I understand universities have many masters-levels programs. many of them.
  2. yes, I understand many universities have masters programs for what i’m about to describe. but many, especially very very highly ranked schools, don’t.
    What has happened to masters levels degrees for non-professional programs/“traditional” college majors? Economics/Sociology/Psychology/Philosophy/Poli Sci/Engineering/etc.?
    Many good universities that I look at (just out of curiosity) do not have masters degrees in many of their undergraduate majors anymore - they hop right to PhD. You get admitted into the PhD program only and (at some of them) the masters degree is conferred as a phd student. As it pertains to my life situation, if anyone was curious, I sometimes wish I could go back to school and get educated/credentialed in another area without having to go through the rigamarole of getting a second BA, or doing a PhD.

Some of my thoughts are that the university gets a whole lot more federal research money if they have PhD students, and the professors themselves like having serfs stick around for 6 years to do research and teach for them. Masters students are more take than they are give in that respect, but the flip side of that is that they pay tuition.

Any thoughts?

My thought would be that most of those subjects aren’t something that students pay to study at the graduate level at most good universities - the tuition is offset by fellowships, TA and RA positions, etc. The reason that people pay to do professional degress and don’t pay to do ‘academic’ graudate studies is that people doing PhDs are expected to go into academia. So the university is contributing to the advancement of the study of different areas by offsetting the costs for those that are going to become scholars and professors in the area. If a person only does an MA, they’re going to have a really tough time breaking into academia and will probably end up ‘working.’ So, it kind of defeats the purpose to give them a free ride. I’m sure there are other reasons, but I have to imagine that this plays a role.

I’m having a hard time following your post, but from what I gather, you’re being a bit tautological.

They don’t offer them because they have to pay people to take them, but the only people that want them aren’t going to pay for them?

I don’t see much cost in offering these programs - if you want to get the MA, you pay tuition and show up. If no one takes them up on their offer, keeping the program in existence doesn’t cost anything, since they still have to offer upper class and graduate courses for the undergraduate major and the PhD.

I don’t think it’s an economic/pragmatic reason. I think it has to do with some ideological reasons in academia, perhaps?

I am in an MA/PhD program, and when I was applying other universities I looked at offered a similar degree combo (I looked at mostly western US). They don’t accept people for terminal masters, although once you get it you could potentially skip the PhD and “drop out.” Functionally, there is very little difference between getting the two degrees, except that perhaps the dissertation should be more in depth. You also have to option of doing a traditional thesis or publishing a paper based on your master’s work; most people opt for the latter.

Functionally little difference? how about 3-4 years?

I don’t understand what you mean. It takes more time to get the PhD, yes. But the time difference from matriculation>MA and MA>PhD can be similar or different, your mileage will always vary. MA usually involves classes in the meantime, and as my experience is going, the MA takes forever.

yeah, except i’m not talking about getting an MA on the way to a PhD, which you then abandon once you have your MA.

They used to offer stand-alone MAs - now they don’t. Trying to figure out why.

What would be the market for it? With many academic subjects, all you can really do with a PhD is teach. Without a PhD, you can’t teach…so what would you do?

One guess: there is a glut of underemployed PhDs out there, and consequently degree inflation. It used to be that you could get a job, even a job teaching college, with a Master’s degree. Now you can’t, because why would they want an M.A. when they could have a Ph.D. for the same price? So the M.A. is still offered as an in-between degree, but barring the terminal / professional degrees (MBA, MFA, etc.), there are no longer enough benefits to having a Master’s alone.

Getting educated for education’s sake?
Receiving education in a field other than your undergraduate major?

even sven, you can usually teach at community colleges with a master’s. Some 4-years may accept people with no PhD on an adjunct basis as well, usually teaching the non-core classes.

I do know that some HMOs, like Kaiser, are preferentially hiring more MFTs instead of PhD/PsyD psychologists. It seems that there is a market for that. Of course many therapy degrees at that level require more training than just the degree.

[quote=“Rumor_Watkins, post:10, topic:569431”]

Getting educated for education’s sake?
Receiving education in a field other than your undergraduate major?[/QUOTE}

“Eduction for education’s sake”? :confused: You go to COLLEGE to get the skills to GET A JOB!!! “education for education’s sake” is for the independent wealthy/trust fund kids or retired people.

that’s nice that you feel that way. many don’t. carry on.

Wouldn’t it give you an edge in applying for certain types of jobs? I’d think an MSEE would be preferable to a BSEE, or that someone with an MA in American Lit plus teaching credential would be a more attractive candidate than someone with only a BA and the credential.

You also frequently encounter MAs/MSs teaching in the extension department. This is usually suitable since many of these programs are introductory in nature.

No, I’m not trying to be tautological. Ax far as paying for an MA - I guess I never really considered that. It seems a little weird. I can’t imagine people wanting to pay the kind of tuition that I had to pay to get a non-professional degree. I’m not sure how they would pay off the loans.

Anyone who goes tens of thousands of dollars into debt for “love of learning” is, frankly, nuts. If you’re a PhD student, you can usually get funding and do it for free. Masters students have access to way fewer sources of funding.

BTW, I have a professional masters degree that did cost me approximately eighty bajillion dollars. But it wasn’t for ~love of learning~. It was so I could work in my desired field.

(I’ll let you know when this actually works out.)

Like you said, MA programs do exist especially in fields like primary and secondary education where there is a direct pay benefit to getting one. However, academic graduate school isn’t really about learning for learning’s sake for the student. It is really about being a cog in the wheel to get grants for your professor and the school and to hyper-specialize in one subfield. PhD programs aren’t really about taking more difficult classes. You can take MA/PhD level classes as an advanced undergraduate. Classes weren’t considered all that important when I was in a PhD program. What was important was work, work and then work some more to do research first and foremost and then do some teaching to alleviate the work-load of the professors. New PhD students are about one step above slavery.

That said, I am not sure if your premise is correct exactly. There are a huge diversity of programs out there in all fields. Some people get a terminal M.A. if their undergraduate work wasn’t as good as they could have done but they want a PhD later but it tends to burn time overall. If a talented student had the money and just wanted to learn, they could find a reputable program to let them take classes and do that. However, if they wanted to make a career out of it in academia, they would eventually need a PhD anyway which takes us full circle.

[quote=“etv78, post:12, topic:569431”]

[quote=“Rumor_Watkins, post:10, topic:569431”]

Getting educated for education’s sake?
Receiving education in a field other than your undergraduate major?

“Eduction for education’s sake”? :confused: You go to COLLEGE to get the skills to GET A JOB!!! “education for education’s sake” is for the independent wealthy/trust fund kids or retired people.[/QUOTE]

Nah, I’m with Rumor on this one. I’ve thought about taking post-graduate courses just for the hell of it, and I’m neither independently wealthy or a trust fund kid. And, hell, my undergrad experience was mostly for the sake of getting a diploma, not specifically learning any set of marketable skills.

Learning for learning’s sake is nice. So are multi-year beach vacations. There are tons of worthwhile ways to spend your time if you are able to.

I’m a grad student now, and one day soon they are going to want me to pay off the money that I’m borrowing. It’d be insanely foolish of me to not be absolutely confident about what my degree will bring me in the workplace.