Difference Between a Graduate & a Master's Degree

by Karen Farnen

Graduate college degrees typically follow a bachelor's degree and require additional years of study. A master's degree isn't different from a graduate degree, because it's actually a type of graduate degree. A master's provides advanced study after the bachelor's that is focused on a specialty or major, such as English literature. The other type of graduate degree is a doctorate, which takes more time to complete than the master's and is the most advanced college degree.

Master's Degree Programs

You can earn a master's degree immediately following the bachelor's degree. Full-time master's programs typically take two years, but some programs are designed for completion in only one year. Examples of master's degrees are a **Master of Arts**, **Master of Science**, **Master of Fine Arts** and **Master of Business Administration**. A typical master's program includes 30 or more semester units of work, and some programs require preparation of a thesis.

Doctoral Degrees

A doctorate is the highest college degree and usually takes four years or more after the bachelor's. Depending on the university and major, you can enter a doctoral program after the master's degree or directly after the bachelor's. Professional doctoral degrees are those that prepare you for specific jobs. Some examples include the **Doctor of Medicine**, **Doctor of Education,** **Doctor of Physical Therapy** and **Doctor of Law**. The **Doctor of Philosophy**, or Ph.D., is an academic degree that emphasizes original research and requires the preparation of a thesis.

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