How Long Does a Master's Program Typically Take to Complete?
In most cases, a master's degree program takes two years to complete, although there are exceptions to the rule. If you'd like to know how long it will take you to earn your master's degree, you should consider how much time you can devote to school and what type of program you'll be pursuing. Read on to learn more.
Typical Length of Master's Degree Programs
A master's degree should take you around two years to earn, during which time you'll complete between 30 and 50 hours of coursework and finish a written thesis, likely based on original research of some kind. At the end of your program, you'll probably have to pass written or oral exams as well. Some programs place limitations on how long you can take to earn your master's degree, usually around six or seven years, although with extenuating circumstances you might be granted an exception.
Some master's degree programs will require you to complete a practicum, which is a period of supervised, hands-on work in your chosen field. A practicum may occur simultaneously with your coursework, or it may be completed once your coursework is finished, which will add time to the total length of your degree program. These practicum requirements are typical in fields which require practitioners to be licensed, such as education, social work, audiology and nursing. A practicum can take anywhere from a semester to a year to complete.
If you have limitations that won't allow you to attend a program on a full-time basis, such as a job or family obligations, you may be able to attend part-time. Many part-time master's degree programs offer courses in the evenings to accommodate their students' schedules, and some offer courses online. By attending part-time, you will probably earn your master's degree in three to five years instead of two.
You may be able to earn a master's degree in less than two years by taking part in an accelerated degree program. Not all schools offer accelerated programs, and not all types of master's degrees are available in an accelerated format; however, if you are able to attend an accelerated program, you could reduce the amount of time it will take to earn your master's degree by a up to a full year.
Combined Bachelor's and Master's Degree Programs
In a combined bachelor's and master's degree program, you will be able to use some of the credits you earn as an undergraduate toward graduate study. These programs usually take a total of five years to complete, or one year longer than a normal bachelor's degree program. You will need to apply for entrance into a combined program after completing part of your bachelor's degree program, most commonly when you reach sophomore or junior status.
Master's Degree En Route
Instead of earning a master's degree before pursuing a doctoral degree, some schools will award you a master's degree en route after a year or two of doctoral studies. If you're planning to earn a doctoral degree, pursuing both degrees at once with this method can reduce the entire amount of time you'll spend in school by a year.