If getting a master’s degree is in your academic or career plans, then you need to fully understand what it entails. Getting a master’s degree is a great way to advance your career or kick-start a new career. However, there are different types of master’s degrees offered by universities. This article will discuss course-based and research-based masters to help you understand what they mean and how they are different.
Course-based master’s degree programs are designed for students who want to learn new skills, gain knowledge, and advance their careers. These structured programs offer students a set of courses to complete for their degree. The courses are designed to provide students with the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in their chosen careers.
Research-based master’s degree programs are designed for students who want to conduct research, develop new knowledge, and contribute to their field. These programs are research-intensive and require students to conduct original research and write a thesis or dissertation. The research conducted should contribute to the knowledge base of the field.
Differences between Course-Based and Research-Based Master’s Degree Programs
Though both programs have their unique advantages, they are tailored to different career goals and learning styles. Here are four major differences between course-based programs and research-based degree programs:
- Approach to learning
The main difference between course-based and research-based master’s degree programs is the approach to learning. As earlier stated, course-based programs offer students a set of courses to complete for their degree. These programs are often referred to as taught master’s programs and are structured around a predetermined curriculum.
On the other hand, research-based programs are not structured, and students have to conduct their research independently. This program requires students to be self-motivated, independent, and have excellent research skills.
Another difference between course-based and research-based master’s degree programs is the length of time it takes to complete the program. Course-based programs typically take one to two years to complete, while research-based programs usually take two to three years to complete due to the time required for extensive research. Course-based programs are an excellent choice for people looking to advance their careers quickly.
Course-based master’s degree programs are designed to equip students with practical skills and knowledge directly applicable to their chosen profession. Students can choose from a variety of courses and tailor their programs to meet their interests and career goals.
Research-based programs, however, are research-intensive and require students to conduct original research and write a thesis or dissertation. Students have the freedom to choose their research topic and conduct their research independently. Research-based master’s degrees are best for students interested in pursuing academic careers or roles that require advanced research skills.
4. Curriculum and Assessment
While course-based programs may include a small research project, the emphasis is primarily on coursework. The majority of your time in a course-based program is spent attending lectures, seminars, and workshops. Assessment is primarily through exams, coursework, and projects.
Research-based or thesis-based programs are centred on independent research and academic exploration. The core of the program is the research thesis. The thesis serves as the culmination of the program, showcasing a student’s ability to conduct independent research, analyze data, and present findings coherently.
Now that you have an idea of the key differences between both master’s programs, you need to consider your learning style and career goals before choosing one that is right for you. If you’re looking to gain practical skills and enter a specific industry, then a course-based program will be a better choice, however, if your goal is to pursue a PhD, then, a more appropriate choice would be a research-based master’s.
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