Young male professional in grey shirt explore masters courses after completing a bachelors degree.

LIBF blog What is a masters degree and how do you get one?

15 May 2024

12 minute read

Quick summary of this article

Considering advancing your career or specialising in your field with a master's degree? Here’s what you need to know to make the leap:

  • A master’s degree is an advanced postgraduate qualification designed to deepen your expertise in a particular area and enhance employability and preparedness for the professional world.

  • Entry requirements for pursuing a master’s often include previous undergraduate study, but some masters degree providers will recognise professional experience, offering a flexible pathway to further education.

  • Types of master's degrees include taught masters (MSc, MA, MEd), research masters (MRes, MPhil), and professional masters (MBA, LLM) formats, with durations typically ranging from one to two years.

  • The cost of a master’s degree varies, but online masters degrees are more affordable due to lower tuition fees and the absence of commuting or accommodation costs.

  • Achieving a master’s degree requires commitment and a strategic approach to studies, including planning your schedule, engaging deeply with course content, and leveraging support services.

What is a master's degree?

A master’s degree is an advanced postgraduate qualification that typically follows a bachelor’s degree and deepens your expertise in a specific field. The aim of a masters degree is to develop advanced knowledge in your chosen field while enhancing your employability skills and preparing you for professional practice in the workplace.

In today’s competitive career landscape, getting a master’s degree can be a pivotal step in your professional development. Whether you’re a working professional striving to advance your career prospects or a current undergraduate degree student considering you

What's the difference between an undergraduate and a master's degree?

An undergraduate degree is usually the first degree you study after finishing college in the UK. Often, it's a students' first experience of studying at degree level, when you're introduced to the foundational concepts of your chosen subject.

Postgraduate courses, which include taught master’s degrees and research master's degrees, are more specialise than undergraduate degrees. They offer you a path to deepen your expertise in a specific area or pivot your career into a new field.

Do I have to do an undergraduate degree before a masters degree?

Typically, a master's degree follows an undergraduate degree, providing more specialised education in a particular field. However, entry criteria depends can be unique to the master’s programme and the institution offering it, and it's not always mandatory to have completed an undergraduate degree before pursuing a master's.

At LIBF, we understand that practical, real-world experience can be as valuable as formal education. If you've not completed an undergraduate or bachelor's degree but can demonstrate significant relevant professional experience, we encourage you to discuss your options with our Study Advisers.

Looking for a fully flexible online masters degree?

Discover our 100% online masters degree courses that allow you to study anytime, anywhere, with flexible payment options to make your path to progress easier today.

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Types of master’s degrees available in the UK

The UK offers various master’s degrees. Understanding the types can help you choose the degree that best aligns with your aspirations.

1. Taught master's degrees (MSc, MA, MEd)

A taught master's degree usually lasts one to two years full-time. These taught courses are structured and instructor-led and provide comprehensive knowledge in specific subject areas. Examples include a Master of Science (MSc) in scientific and technical disciplines, a Master of Arts (MA) in humanities, and a Master of Education (MEd) for educational professionals.

2. Research master's degrees (MRes, MPhil)

Focused more on independent research at postgraduate level, degrees like Master of Research (MRes) and Master of Philosophy (MPhil) require you to conduct a detailed research project. A research degree, or doctoral degree, is ideal if you aim to pursue a PhD or an academic career in research-based fields. They require a greater level of self-direction and initiative in exploring complex problems.

3. Professional master’s degrees (MBA, LLM)

Designed for professionals looking to advance in specific career paths, postgraduate courses such as Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Master of Law (LLM) combine academic rigour with practical professional skills. They are highly valued in competitive business and legal industries and often include practical engagements with industries and networks.

4. Integrated master's degrees (MEng, MMath)

An integrated master's degree combines undergraduate and postgraduate studies into a single, continuous course, typically completed over four years. Integrated masters degrees are ideal for students committed to long-term studies in specialised areas, offering a deep, comprehensive education that prepares graduates for advanced professional roles or further academic pursuits.

How long does a UK masters degree take?

In the UK, the duration of a masters degree can vary depending on the type of programme and the mode of study. For full-time students, most master's courses usually take one year to complete.

If you require more flexibility, part-time master's degree programmes offer the advantage of spreading your studies over a longer period. This can be especially beneficial if you're balancing professional commitments or personal responsibilities alongside your studies. Online master’s degrees provide additional flexibility, allowing you to tailor the pace of your studies to fit your individual schedule according to your needs and time availability.

How much does a UK master's degree cost?

Mother researching executive MBAs.

Tuition fees for masters degrees in the UK can vary depending on several factors, including the degree provider and the subject area. For UK students, tuition fees for a master's degree can range from £7,000 to over £15,000 per year. However, courses in high-demand fields might cost more.

You should also consider additional costs beyond tuition, such as accommodation, living expenses, textbooks, and other study materials. For masters students who choose to study 100% online, the total cost of masters study often ends up being less since you can save significantly on accommodation and commuting expenses.

At LIBF, our tuition fees for master’s courses are priced at £9,750, with our online MBA programme slightly higher at £10,250, reflecting the absence of physical campus costs since our courses are delivered 100% online.

How do you get a master's degree?

From selecting the right course and degree provider to actually committing to your studies, the journey to joining the ranks of master's degree graduates involves commitment and planning. Here's what you should expect.

1. Choose the right masters degree

Selecting the subject for your master’s degree is a foundational step in shaping your future career prospects. Consider the topics you studied during your undergraduate degree to identify those you got the most value from and excelled at. Reflect on your personal interests, career aspirations, and the sectors that are thriving or emerging.

You should think about where you want your career to go and how a specific master's degree can help propel you in that direction. To make an informed decision, engage with industry professionals, attend webinars, and read up-to-date field-specific research.

2. Choose a study model

Choosing the right study model is essential for aligning your master's degree with your personal and professional commitments. On-campus learning offers a traditional, structured educational environment with direct access to university facilities, often requiring a commute to campus or even relocation.

For maximum flexibility, 100% online distance learning allows you to access coursework and interact with instructors and peers virtually from anywhere in the world at any time. This mode suits working professionals or anyone needing to fit their studies around other life commitments. When you study for an online master's degree with us, we offer the convenience and innovation of modern education 100% online, making continuing education more accessible and adaptable to your life.

Young woman in a cafe using a laptop to research master's degree providers for international students.

3. Research masters degree providers

Once you've chosen your subject, the next step is to find the right institution or degree provider. If you're currently coming to the end of your three-year undergraduate degree, it's useful to know that you don't have to study for your postgraduate degree with the same provider.

Key factors to consider at this stage include the provider’s course catalogue, support services available, particularly for new distance learners, and career development opportunities available. Additionally, consider the flexibility of the course delivery, especially if you need to fit your studies around professional commitments.

4. Plan your master's degree funding

Financing your master's degree is a crucial step in your preparation process, and understanding the available options can ease the financial burden, allowing you to focus wholly on your studies. Start by exploring postgraduate loans, which are a common option for many postgraduates. Loans can be paid back in manageable instalments after graduation, often depending on your income level.

Some degree providers might also offer scholarships, which can reduce the cost of your degree. At LIBF, we offer flexible payment plans, allowing you to pay interest-free monthly, yearly, or in full. We also offer reductions for advance payments, making our financial arrangements as accommodating as possible to ensure you can focus on your studies without stress.

Male professional in orange jumper looks at postgraduate degree reviews by masters students.

5. Apply and accept your offer

The application process is your gateway to securing a spot in your desired master’s programme. Craft a compelling narrative in your application, showcasing your qualifications and vision.

Once you receive your acceptance, review the conditions, celebrate your success, and prepare for the exciting educational journey ahead.

Steps to graduation: studying for and achieving your master's degree

Embarking on your master's degree is a transformative journey that requires commitment, planning, and a proactive approach. Below are essential steps to guide you through studying effectively and reaching graduation successfully.

Male student in yellow hoodie planning his study schedule for his taught master's degree.

1. Plan your study schedule

Once enrolled on your postgraduate degree, the first key to success as a masters student is managing your time efficiently. Setting clear goals, prioritising tasks, and establishing a consistent study schedule are crucial strategies.

Building a structured calendar that incorporates adequate breaks will ensure sustainability over the duration of your course. Using digital tools and apps can help keep you on track and remind you of your daily tasks and deadlines.

Our Registrar, Karen Pichlmann, has shared some of her best tips for planning your study schedule in our 'how you'll study online' video.

2. Commit to engaging with your course content

Engage deeply with your course materials. This doesn’t just mean paying attention during lectures but actively participating in discussions, spending time on your recommended reading, and tackling tasks enthusiastically.

Deep engagement is essential for enhancing your understanding and retaining crucial information long-term. Taking an active part in classroom discussions and connecting with your peers can often provide different perspectives that enhance your own understanding.

Friendly woman with headset offering support with postgraduate study.

3. Engage with support services

Take full advantage of the support offered by your master's degree provider. Engaging regularly with your academic advisor or tutor will provide you with tailored support through your studies.

Most providers will offer support from academic and learning support teams. AT LIBF, our personalised tutoring sessions, dedicated and motivating study coaches, and cutting-edge AI-powered learning are designed to bolster your educational journey.

Besides student support teams, engaging with student forums and groups can provide informal advice and support. Often, the shared experiences and tactics from fellow students prove invaluable.

4. Complete your assignments and projects on time

Assignments and projects are key opportunities to apply theoretical knowledge practically. Approach them with diligence, ensuring you meet all academic standards and deadlines. Collaboration with peers can also offer new insights and enhance your learning experience.

As you progress towards more complex assignments, start early and allocate plenty of time for research, drafting, and revisions. This not only ensures quality but also lessens last-minute pressures, allowing for a more thorough exploration of your topic.

Woman in striped jumper preparing for postgraduate study exams from home.

5. Prepare for your exams

Preparing for exams and completing your final project or thesis marks an exciting point in your master's journey. Design a revision strategy that includes a mix of learning techniques such as group discussions, visual aids, and practice exams.

Also leverage the support network around you by participating in study groups and seeking continuous feedback from your tutors. This collaborative approach diversifies your understanding and helps you stay motivated and confident.

Remember, each step you take in preparation brings you closer to achieving your academic goals and celebrating your success.

6. Complete your graduate degree!

Completing your degree is not just an academic milestone. It's a transformative experience shaping your career and personal development. Celebrate this momentous achievement as a testament to your hard work and commitment. As you transition from student to graduate, take pride in how far you've come and look forward with confidence to the new opportunities that now lie ahead.

Why choose LIBF for your online master's journey?

At LIBF, our online taught master's degrees are crafted with the latest industry demands in mind, ensuring that you are equipped with theoretical knowledge and practical, applicable skills in your chosen field.

Smiling black man in yellow polo shirt beginning postgraduate study online from home.

At our core, we understand the importance of flexibility in postgraduate study, especially for those juggling work or family commitments alongside personal development. That's why our online degrees offer a learning experience that fits your lifestyle without compromising on quality or support.

Take the next step towards transforming your professional life by exploring LIBF's range of online master's degrees in some of the most exciting and in-demand areas today. Whether it’s driving innovation in tech, shaping future business landscapes, leading management revolutions, or harnessing the power of data and AI, your future starts here.

Find an online masters degree

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