How to Get a Master’s Degree in Less Than 2 Years

Woman at a graduation holding a diploma

Congratulations on earning your Bachelor’s! It was a long, trying 4 years, but it was definitely worth it. The years of late nights, coffee guzzling, and unhealthy eating paid off! Now that you have donned your cap and gown, and walked across the long stage, you are ready to do it all over again!

The last thing you want to do, though, is to go back to school for another long-time commitment, only to watch your youth drain from your body and soul. But in case you haven’t noticed, there are more people getting master’s degrees these days. An increasing number of professions now require or encourage a master’s degree level of education for employees.

There are a variety of types of master’s offered in the U.S., but the two most basic are the Master’s of Arts (M.A.) and Master’s of Science (M.S.). To earn a master’s degree you usually need to complete from 36 to 54-semester credits of study (or 60 to 90 quarter-credits). This equals 12 to 18 college courses. Students typically spend between two and three years studying to earn a master’s degree, but it is possible to earn some degrees in just one year.

So how can you avoid taking too long to get your Master’s degree? Keep reading to find out.

Application Checklists for Master’s Degrees

It seems obvious, but you’re not familiar with the system or degree, you might not know that prerequisite courses or degrees might be required before starting certain M.A. programs. Failure to complete this might delay your journey towards a graduate degree before it’s even begun! Also, the Master’s degree applicants may need GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) or GRE (Graduate Record Examination) scores. Other basic requirements might include:

  • Successful completion of the international equivalent of US/Canadian secondary education.
  • Diploma or acceptable certification of graduation from High School in your home country
  • English language ability is sometimes proven by a TOEFL score.
  • Proven academic achievement demonstrating your ability to succeed in university-level studies

First of All, Why Should You Invest In a Master’s Degree?

Let’s be real, the job market is looking for you: you, an expert in a given field; you, the one who has put in the hours and research; you, the dedicated student.

A Master’s Degree Provides an Instant Boost to your Resume & Job Opportunities

Pretend you are a hiring manager browsing two potential job candidates’ resumes. You notice that both competing candidates offer a well-rounded experience and have excellent work ethics. As you browse the education section of their resume, however, you notice that one candidate received their Master’s degree, while the other’s education stopped at a Bachelor’s degree. In all honesty, who would you choose?

The Telegraph explains, “In some fields, while a masters may not be required, it can undoubtedly enhance a candidate’s application” (Morrison). Proudly presenting hiring managers with a Master’s degree will help qualified applicants stand out from the competition in the job market. In layman’s terms, it will help you get a little closer to scoring your dream job.

A Master’s Degree Is An Investment That Pays You Back

A 2011 Census report revealed that, over a lifetime of 40 working years, earning potential with a Master’s degree is about $400,000 more than with just a bachelor’s degree. However, not getting a job that is specifically tied to your Master’s degree could feel like a waste, and thus not worth it. Yet, compared to the lifetime of benefits a student could receive by earning a master’s degree, such as potential wage increases and higher-level job positions, two to four years seems like a reasonable amount of time to invest and will ultimately make pursuing an online master’s degree worth it in 2019.

While it is tempting to go straight into a graduate program, having a master’s degree with no real work experience can sometimes do more harm than good. If you don’t have any work experience, you won’t be qualified for higher-level positions. The result is those who go straight to graduate school often find themselves stuck in a rough spot of being overqualified for entry-level positions but underqualified for mid-level positions.

If you can combine your graduate degree with a few years of relevant work experience, you may find the employment environment much friendlier when graduation comes. Graduate schools also look for work experience when evaluating applicants to their program. Not to mention that getting a few years of real-life experience can help you hone in on what it is you really want to pursue.

Some places will even pay for you to go back and earn a master’s while you work. In that case, you might still find an M.A. degree to take two years of dedicated effort, but will be well worth it.

Different Fields Have Different Education Requirements for Work

Some fields expect applicants to have a Master’s degree, while others only hope for it. For example, “Science and engineering companies are often well-disposed towards postgraduate degrees” (Morrison). No matter your career goals, a postgraduate degree will help job-seekers sharpen highly sought after “transferable skills, whatever the subject. These include persuasion and influencing, problem-solving, analysis and research, and presentation skills” (Morrison). Gaining your master’s degree will not only help you stand out on paper but at your workplace as well as you will have learned a particular skill set.

More Reasons to Get a Master’s 

Earning a Master’s will not only give professionals more knowledge and experience, but it will also benefit their wallet. Plus, it gives graduates something to do while the weakened economy affects the job market. The Washington Post writes, “For those who want to shore up their worth in their chosen profession, boost their salaries, switch careers or even simply wait out the bad economy while adding to their academic résumés, the case for earning a master’s degree is strong” (Simon). Rather than working at the nearest pizza place until a career finds you, applying to graduate school is a useful option that shows you are motivated.

There are very few reasons that avoid gaining a postgraduate degree, and the positives clearly outweigh the negatives. The time to gain your degree is now.

  • First, Check Your Schedule

Prospective graduate students should do their best to clear their schedules. If this is not possible, they must find a program that fits into their schedule. There should be little to no distraction. A Master’s degree is a time-consuming, mentally strenuous commitment. Honestly, the less distraction in the daily life of a grad student, the better. You should consider working only part-time, if possible.

  • Make Sure You Have Options

In order to successfully graduate in two years or less, potential graduate students should make sure the program offers online, hybrid, and evening classes. It is nearly impossible to work around an adult’s schedule (due to employment or parental responsibilities) without these options.

  • Take Online Classes

Online classes enable students to complete assignments around their busy schedules. There are still strict due dates for projects, papers, and assignments, but, without a set class period, students can learn at their own pace. Sometimes online courses will assign group projects, so students are not always in the clear from commuting to campus, but students may choose to meet online and share information via the internet and video calls.

  • Try Hybrid Classes

Hybrid classes are an excellent option for students that like the flexibility of online learning, but still crave a more concrete educational setting. Much of the class takes place online, such as lectures, discussions, and assigned readings. Part of the class, however, takes place on campus, as well. Whether students head to school for tests, a lab, or a few lectures during the semester, a hybrid course will help keep students organized and focused. Hybrid courses also lend visual, concrete learners the ability to excel.

  • Evening Classes

Evening classes are pertinent to the working student’s schedule. Making it possible for anyone and everyone to find time to learn, these classes are a great choice for those that enjoy the traditional, interactive classroom setting, but do not have a cleared morning schedule. Hop on the highway during the drive home from work and head straight to class!

Find the Right Program

The key to completing a Master’s degree in 2 years or less is to find a fast-paced program. Students can accelerate learning time through quick programs, and will obtain a degree in fewer years! Completing a program in less than 2 years also depends on the number of work students are willing to put into it. If you want to finish within a certain period of time, make sure you are signing up for the maximum number of classes you can handle with your schedule!

Before You Begin

Potential grad students should review a number of programs to find the best one for them. Be sure to review the program requirements, to determine whether you will graduate within your goal. Always check out the prerequisites to ensure that you are prepared for this program. Choosing a program that needs prerequisites that you have not taken will slow you down in this process.

Request more info about Our Programs

How FNU Can Help You Earn Your Master’s

The right college has the right program for you; you just have to find it. Florida National University offers our Master’s programs in 8-week terms, which allows for a faster pace and quicker completion. As an accredited program, we require 36 credits for our Master’s programs. Graduation within 2 years is easily attainable for anyone that focuses on the program and devotes enough time in their schedule to get what they need done!

If you are interested, apply to FNU today!

Works Cited

Morrison, Nick. “Don’t Take a Year Off, Take a Master’s.” The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group, 24 Oct. 2013. Web. 14 May 2014.

Simon, Cecilia Capuzzi. “Graduate Degrees: Are They Worth It?” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 23 Feb. 2012. Web. 14 May 2014.