How Long Does it Take to Get a Master's Degree?

How Long Does it Take to Get a Master's Degree?

A master’s degree is an entry point into an elite world of highly skilled professionals, but in recent years, that world has gotten larger. While those with a bachelor’s degree still make up the majority of college graduates, the United States Census Bureau estimates that the number of people age 25 and older with master’s degrees has doubled to 21 million since the start of the century. A higher percentage of students entering graduate study means a more educated populace, but it also increases the likelihood that you’ll face more competition for today’s most sought-after careers.

If you’re among those who feel a master’s degree will give you a much-needed competitive edge, you might be asking yourself how long it will take to finish graduate school. 

Fewer Credits, Same Commitment

Traditionally, it takes about four years to complete a bachelor’s degree. Typically, a master’s degree can be completed in about half the time, but this does not make the path to graduation easier. A college education requires an intense level of preparation, focus, and dedication, no matter how many credits are involved. 

You can expedite the process when getting a master’s degree at Ashford because there is no GRE required, but your path to graduation will vary depending on how many credits you must complete to earn your master’s degree*. For example, at Ashford University, the Master of Arts in Special Education – one of the 10 most requested Master’s degrees of 2019 – requires 30 course credits to complete, while a Master of Arts in Health Care Administration – also in the top 10 – is comprised of 36 credits. 

Top Ashford University Master's Degrees

Master’s Degree Specializations Make a Difference

Your path to graduation will also depend on the specialization you choose for your master’s degree program. For instance, Ashford University’s Master of Business Administration (MBA) is comprised of 11 core courses (33 credits) that include Business Strategy and Organizational Behavior, among others. These online courses are designed to give you a holistic foundation of business knowledge. An MBA specialization consists of three additional courses (9 credits) from a subject of your choosing, including Human Resources Management, Project Management, and Finance.  

A specialization allows you to focus your education on a single career interest, so you can enter the job market better prepared for the job of your choosing. However, you will need to factor this aspect of your program into the overall time it will take to earn your master’s degree online.

A Flexible Path to Graduation

At Ashford University, you’ll take one master’s degree course at a time in six-week intervals, allowing you to balance school, work, and family commitments, while still being able to access your online classroom from anywhere in the world.

Every day, you can log in via desktop or using the Ashford mobile app to check your progress, participate in discussion forums, and conduct research for your weekly assignments. Additionally, Ashford makes it easier for you to plan for your post-graduation career while you’re still in school. The Career Services team, for example, can help you prepare your resume and practice your interviewing techniques, and Ashford’s many student organizations allow you to connect with colleagues and network with future employers. 

When students take full advantage of Ashford’s online ecosystem, they’re able to shorten the amount of time they’d spend conducting their job search after graduation.  

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Getting Your Master’s Degree Faster

Knowing that each three-credit course takes six weeks to complete, it’s possible to estimate how long it may take you to earn your master’s degree at Ashford University. However, there are ways to shorten that length of time to complete your graduate education.

First, you may be eligible to transfer* up to nine credits toward your master’s degree. Transfer credits can come from a regionally or nationally accredited college or university, or they can be military credits that are graduate-level equivalent. Ashford’s Registrar’s Office will request your transcripts prior to admission and will make the final determination on whether your transfer credits qualify. 

Ashford University also offers the Smart Track program, which allows high performing students a chance to earn master’s degree credits while completing their bachelor’s degree programs. To be eligible for Smart Track, you must be in good financial standing, have a GPA of 2.75 or higher, and have completed 108+ bachelor’s degree credits. If approved, you can take up to six credits of graduate coursework (or nine credits if you are pursuing a Master of Accountancy, MBA, Master of Public Administration, or Master of Science in Criminal Justice) while pursuing your bachelor’s degree, shortening the cost and length of time it takes to earn your master’s degree. In fact, students who have enrolled in Smart Track call the program a “game changer” because it can potentially eliminate up to 18 weeks from a master’s degree program before a student’s even earned an undergraduate degree.

One such student, Cheryl Brown, received her Bachelor of Arts in Entrepreneurship in 2018 and thanks to Smart Track is well on her way toward earning her Master of Business Administration with an Entrepreneurship specialization. 

“If I had to go to a brick-and-mortar classroom, I never would have made it through to completion,” Brown says. “Ashford University has allowed me, a working wife and mom, to obtain a degree that not only will secure my current contract but open doors for the future.”

Understanding the Commitment

The benefits of earning a master’s degree – next level skills, better job security, and better job prospects, among others – continue to drive more students and professionals toward a graduate education. However, when forecasting your future career options, you’ll want to fully understand the commitment before making a decision. If you’re ready to take the next step, talk to an Ashford advisor today. 

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Written by Ashford University staff

*Certain master’s degree programs may not be available in all states. 

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Are you currently a licensed RN?

This program requires you to be a current licensed registered nurse. Please check out other programs to reach your education goals such as the BA in Health and Wellness.