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How long does it take to get a Master’s degree?


For most people, a Master’s degree is the highest level of education they will ever achieve. Whilst not only providing you with in-depth and specific subject knowledge, Master's degrees are also considered an incredibly highly-regarded achievement. But what does it actually take to earn one of these coveted degrees?

The answer depends on a few factors. The university, the course, and whether it is a full or part-time studying arrangement. However, generally, it takes one year of full-time study or two years of part-time study.

If you’re thinking about either going back to university or staying on after your undergraduate course to get your Master’s degree, be prepared for a challenging (but ultimately rewarding) journey with the University of Wolverhampton.

What’s the difference between undergraduate and postgraduate study?

There is a big difference between undergraduate and postgraduate studies. For one, postgraduate study takes place after you have completed your undergraduate degree. It typically takes one to two years to complete a Master’s degree, whilst your Bachelor's study will usually take around three years.

Undergraduate study is also generally less specialised than postgraduate study. In undergrad, you take a variety of courses in different subject areas. This broadens your knowledge base but doesn’t necessarily prepare you for a particular career. In contrast, postgraduate study is much more focused. You specialise in a particular area and learn the advanced skills and knowledge needed for that field.

What factors affect the length of a Master's degree?

Now that we have discussed how long a Master's degree usually takes to complete, let’s have a look at some of the circumstances that may potentially affect how long it takes to complete postgraduate study.

Full or part-time

Whether you are enrolled in a full- or part-time program will affect how long your degree takes to get. Most full-time courses can be completed in one-two years, whereas a part-time Master’s degree can take anywhere between two and four years.

The subject

The subject you are studying can be a factor in how long your degree may take to complete. For example, a research-based Master of Science (MSc) degree will usually take longer to complete than a Master’s degree in English (MA).

Distance learning

While online programs offer a great deal of flexibility for students, they often take place at a slower pace than a full-time, in-person course. Through this method, you may be learning at your own pace, or be studying the course through a more part-time arrangement.

What does a Master’s degree involve?

Generally, a Master's degree will involve completing a number of taught modules, as well as undertaking a research project. The courses are typically divided into core and optional modules and depending on the study subject, you may have the chance to complete a work placement or study abroad. In most cases, courses begin in September or October, but some start in January or February as well.

Contact time in a Master's degree tends to be lower than that of an undergraduate degree, but this is due to the amount of time you will need to put into independent study. Similarly to your first university experience, a Master’s degree will involve teaching methods such as lectures, seminars, essays, presentations and potentially practical assignments.

Are there different types of Master’s degrees?

Yes, there are different types of Master's degrees in the UK. The most common are the Master of Arts (MA) and Master of Science (MSc), but there are also other programmes such as the Master of Research (MRes), Master of Studies (MSt), and the Postgraduate Diploma. 

Master’s can also either be research-based or taught. The taught degrees do tend to follow a similar structure to undergraduate degrees, whereas the research Master’s, or an MRes, have less classroom learning and are mostly based on students' independent learning. There are also many specialised Master’s degrees available in fields such as nursing, social work and law, or you could take a look at postgraduate diploma programmes as an equivalent option to a Master’s.

How much will a Master’s degree cost?

A Master's degree in the UK typically takes one or two years to complete, depending on the program. The average cost of a Master's degree is between £9,000 and £10,500 per year for tuition and fees. Some programmes also require students to pay for additional costs such as books, supplies, and living expenses. There are many ways to finance a Master's degree, including scholarships, loans, and grants.

Should I study for a Master's degree?

There are many reasons to pursue a Master's degree. Some people may want to specialise in a particular area of study, while others may want to increase their earning potential. A Master's degree can also give you the opportunity to teach at a higher level, and it is considered a prestigious achievement in the academic world.

If you're thinking about pursuing a Master's degree, it's important to take some time to figure out if it's the right decision for you. There are many different types of postgraduate programs available, so be sure to find one that fits your needs and interests. Whether that’s a full-time Master’s degree that takes a year to complete, or a slightly slower-based distance learning degree, there are plenty of available studying options at the University of Wolverhampton.

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