Friday, September 22, 2017 | ePaper

Masters in Professional Studies

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Elizabeth Koprowski :
Master's degrees are increasingly common - a report published in 2015 predicted that by 2022, at least 60% of all awarded degrees will be at the master's level. But the same report also indicated that the growth may not come from traditional master's programs. Instead, the rise in MPS, or Master's of Professional Studies degrees, could be the biggest contributor to the increased number of post-graduates. But what is an MPS?
Unlike a traditional MA or MS, which focus on broad knowledge in a research subject, MPS degrees are typically interdisciplinary studies aimed at a particular industry or applied field of study. MPS degrees are also more 'hands-on' than other master's programs and frequently require some form of internship or work-study. Schools around the world are seeing a spike in applications for and interest in MPS degrees because of the demands of the increasingly diversified and specialized job market. MPS in subjects like emergency management, international relations, cybernetics, and human rights all give students skills that apply directly to gaps in established career-fields and expertise for emerging industries. And while undergraduates can transition directly into MPS programs, they are frequently geared towards professionals who want to develop or change their careers. This makes MPS programs more flexible than other traditional master's degrees. So how can an MPS help you? Here are three good reasons.
1.    They're practical
While traditional master's programs will give you a solid understanding of theories and excellent research skills, an MPS focuses on practical skills that apply directly to a specific job. This means they're a great option for someone who knows precisely the career field, job, or even department they hope to enter.
A traditional MA or MS is great if you're hoping to earn a PhD, but an MPS is better if you want career advancement in a marketing firm, or to jump into an emerging technological industry. MPS degrees are also a great way to make a general BA or BS degree work in a specific field - for instance, if you majored in history, consider an MPS in Museum Studies.
 2.    They're flexible and focused
Because MPS students tend to be established professionals hoping to climb the career ladder or change professions, MPS studies are often very flexible. They cater to working professionals and frequently offer online or evening courses. Instructors are usually professionals in the specific field, so classes and coursework can give opportunities for networking, hands-on experience, and even job opportunities. And since MPS programs are designed around specific skill-sets, most include some form of field work, which gives you the opportunity to test-drive your new skills and focus on areas that apply to your interests and strengths.
3.    They're growing in popularity
As we mentioned, master's degrees could make up two-thirds of degrees in the next decade, and with MPS degrees leading the way, you might find that honed and industry-specific skills are in even higher demand. The world of industry and development grows more diversified by the minute, and broad knowledge and a diploma will no longer guarantee you your dream job. Starting an MPS now could put you ahead of the game in five or ten years time. Who knows, by 2025, you could be offering your career expertise to incoming MPS students.
If you think an MPS degree might be right for you, but are still unsure how the degree could apply to your studies consider some of these options:
Thinking about teaching, but didn't study education? Consider a Professional Master of Education.
Did you study Architecture and Design as an undergraduate? Think about taking your skills to the next level with Master of Architecture.
Political science major with a passion for globalization? Why not enroll in a Master of International Relations program?
Do you worry about the future of farming and food production? A Master in Crop Protection could give you the skills to feed the future.
Want to work on the business end of academia? Try a Professional Master's Degree in Administration.
(Elizabeth Koprowski is an American writer and travel historian. She has worked in the higher education system with international students both in Europe and in the USA).

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