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Pursuing a Masters degree in the USA (Complete Guide)

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This is a complete guide on the steps involved in pursuing a masters degree in the USA and the trending programs that are guaranteed to get you a job after graduation.

Acquiring a master’s degree is an excellent way to gain in-depth expertise and further your career. But it also needs lots of upfront research to determine what program best suits you, the ones you’re interested in, if you’re eligible and how you apply to your desired program and institution.

We’re writing this article with the intent of making that research easier by outlining common requirements for applying to master’s programs. We’ll also delve into detail on setting yourself up for success and typical graduation prerequisites for master’s degree programs.

Am I Eligible for a Master’s Degree Program?

While particular requirements vary by program, degree, and even school, there are generally shared features between master’s programs when it comes to application requirements.

Master’s Degree Prerequisites

All master’s degrees need you to have completed a bachelor’s degree and usually require an undergraduate GPA of 3.0. Many schools also need you to take entry exams like the GRE or GMAT. It’s important to state that some institutions require a minimum 2.75 GPA and others lower, and they sometimes require you to take an entrance exam if you do not meet the GPA criteria.

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After that, you can expect to find a wide variety of requirements, from no required courses to highly specific or technical courses that ought to be completed before you can start the master’s program.

Some master’s programs need you to possess specific bachelor’s degrees or courses that should be completed before applying, while other programs are more liberal. Here are common examples of each.

Popular programs with typical course prerequisites:

  • M.S. in Accounting: particular courses in intermediate accounting and auditing are needed, but you do not need to have a bachelor’s degree in accounting to qualify.
  • M.S. in Computer Science: specific Courses in mathematics, operations systems and computer science prepare students with the technical skills to complete a master’s in computer science is required.
  • M.S. in Nursing: Nursing programs typically needs a BSN although some have admission pathways for RNs who have not earned the BSN.
    Every other specialized, technical or medical master’s degrees also have a course prerequisites that must be completed before applying.

Popular programs without specific course prerequisites are:

  • Master of Business Administration (MBA): An MBA is regarded as one of the most flexible master’s degrees existing because it centers on building management and leadership skills across an abundance of business functions.
  • Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA): An MHA is becoming an increasingly popular master’s degree in recent years as it centers on specific topics of management in healthcare organizations.
  • Master of Public Administration (MPA): An MPA is excellent for those individuals interested in working in the public sector or nonprofit organizations, giving students the skills to effectively and efficiently tackle unique issues that impact the success and growth of government and social service organizations.

Degree programs in less technical or specialized areas like the aforementioned do not require a connected bachelor’s degree.

Instead, they assess criteria like academic ability, professional experience, and personal characteristics when considering your application package.

Now that you’ve been exposed to the basics, this is how you take the decisive next step of applying to the program of your choice.

10 Common Admission Steps When Applying to Graduate School

Every program and institution has exact requirements to meet to be considered for a master’s program.

So here are the steps you need to take when preparing your applications:

  1. Determine if entrance exams are needed. Lots of graduate programs require GRE or GMAT scores. But some will waive this requirement if you meet a certain GPA benchmark.
  2. Obtain your official transcripts for transfer credit. For you to be considered for transfer credit, you will be required to contact your former institutions to get your official transcripts. There usually is a small fee and it might take a couple of weeks for your request to be granted.
  3. Demonstrate your English language proficiency. For international students, if English isn’t your first language, you’d need to demonstrate English Language Proficiency via previous educational experience or the TOEFL test.
  4. Update your résumé. Professional programs would want to see a detailed outline of your work experience, as well as any community involvement.
  5. Find out if you need to complete a writing sample. Institutions want to know that you posses the necessary communication skills needed in master’s programs,
  6. Request for references. Lots of programs will require you to provide references who can speak for your academic preparedness and professional experience. Know who to ask and give them at least a month’s notice before needing their letters.
  7. Prepare for an admission interview. Your program might need you to complete an interview with the department of your choice or admissions team. Ensure you’re ready to discuss about your background, why you wish to attend the program and why you think you will be successful.
  8. Complete the admission application. Ensure to complete, submit and pay for your applications well in advance of the deadline.
  9. File the FAFSA. Every students ought to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to be considered for federal student loans.
  10. Explore every funding opportunity available. Check if your employer offers tuition reimbursement, or if you’re eligible for grants or scholarships offered by professional organizations.

Most of these steps and requirements mentioned above would vary. Ensure to research every program and school you’re applying to extensively to gain an understanding of any specific requirements that may differ from those on this list.

5 Traits of Successful Master’s Degree Students

As you’re considering acquiring your master’s degree, you must ensure you’re well prepared for the rigorous curriculum. This is mostly true if you’re an employed professional who would need to balance your professional, personal and program times.

Below listed are five of the most crucial traits of successful master’s degree students:

  • Dedicated. They are prepared to prioritize their education and approach their coursework with discipline and diligence.
  • Forward Thinking. They’ve realized a master’s degree is about more than their next job, it’s for them about a lifelong career. They are aware of their long-term goals and have identified a specific program that aligns with these goals.
  • Enthusiastic. They are intrigued by learning and gaining new expertise, not just the probability of an increased salary.
  • Ambitious. They are aching to apply what they learn in the classroom to their current positions. Seeing immediate payoff of new-found knowledge provides personal and professional inspiration to keep going.
  • Critical Thinkers. They are inspired by solving complex problems and communicating such solutions clearly in both oral and written communication.
    Acquiring your master’s degree is rigorous, but kicking it off with the right mindset and attitude will aid you in making the most of your program.

Critical Milestones to Earn a Master’s Degree

It might seem premature to be considering graduation necessities if you haven’t applied for your master’s program yet. But, understanding the prerequisites for graduating would set you up to succeed.

While all program and institution varies different, basic graduation requirements are:

  • Minimum 3.0 GPA. Dissimilar to undergraduate programs, master’s degrees demands a high GPA in order to finish your degree. Ensure to give your all in every course you take so you don’t fall short of this requirement.
  • Fulfill all course requirements. You ought to complete every credit hours, typically between 30-60 credits for a master’s degree, in addition to taking all required courses.
  • Complete a capstone project. Lots of master’s programs mandates a seminal paper or project be completed as the culmination of your degree program. Such projects can differ from research papers to professionally focused projects that solve real-life problems for a business or industry. Normally, a capstone project is completed as part of a single semester course before graduation.
  • Settle all remaining tuition and fees. It happens way more often than you’d think, lots of time people complete all their education requirements but can’t fund the final fees to get their degree. Ensure you plan ahead and have sufficient funds to graduate.

Now You Know What’s Required. Find the Best Master’s Program For You.
Searching and applying for a master’s degree doesn’t occur overnight. Most master’s programs are highly competitive, so you need to take the time to confirm the program best fit for you, as well as meet all the necessary requirements to get admission.

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