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Are Master’s Degrees Harder Than Bachelor’s?

Written by Grad School Center Team We are a passionate team of experienced educators and advisors at GradSchoolCenter.com, dedicated to guiding students through their graduate education journey. Our experts, with advanced degrees across various disciplines, offer personalized advice, up-to-date program information, and practical insights into application processes.

Reviewed by David Krug David Krug is a seasoned expert with 20 years in educational technology (EdTech). His career spans the pivotal years of technology integration in education, where he has played a key role in advancing student-centric learning solutions. David's expertise lies in marrying technological innovation with pedagogical effectiveness, making him a valuable asset in transforming educational experiences. As an advisor for enrollment startups, David provides strategic guidance, helping these companies navigate the complexities of the education sector. His insights are crucial in developing impactful and sustainable enrollment strategies.

Updated: February 7, 2024, Reading time: 8 minutes

Pursuing education beyond a bachelor’s degree is a major decision that takes considerable commitment. With longer programs, advanced coursework, and heightened expectations, master’s degrees demand more of students than undergraduate ones. 

Determining if these postgraduate qualifications are truly harder merits an in-depth look at the stepped-up workloads, grading standards, and mental taxation graduate students take on.

Are Master’s Degrees Harder Than a Bachelor’s to Get?

Yes, in general, master’s degrees are harder than bachelor’s degrees because they are more focused and specialized programs. It requires better research skills and academic performance than a bachelor’s degree. The difficulty level can vary according to the demands of different programs. 

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By the end of 2021, it was recorded that around 24.1 million Americans are master’s degree holders. The current number of Americans who hold a master’s degree would be higher than this. Furthermore, it also shows the significance of this program. We, as students, must know how to overcome challenges of different degree levels to achieve our desired academic results. 

You can prepare for the challenges beforehand by knowing the difference between bachelor’s and master’s degrees. It can also help you better plan your career and educational goals.

Let’s find out more relevant details that will give you a better understanding of both these programs.  

Bachelor’s Degree Overview

An undergraduate degree helps students build a basic foundation of the discipline they choose to study. A bachelor’s degree can take around four years to complete, and it introduces students to a wide range of relevant subjects and concepts. 

Usually, students have to complete around 120 credits to earn this degree. Some general education courses for bachelor’s degrees are related to history, physical science, mathematics, and social science. The coursework can vary according to the specialized degree that you choose. 

The wide range of courses and curriculum are designed to help students build problem-solving and critical thinking skills. It enables them to begin a career successfully and helps them achieve professional milestones. With plenty of bachelor’s degree options, students must have clarity about their interests to choose the right program that aligns with their goals and passion. 

Some of the highest-paying bachelor’s degrees are:

Not everyone completes a bachelor’s degree within four years. According to a statistical study, around 22.3% of students take more than four years to earn their degree. There could be different reasons for this, such as changing majors or being unable to move credits between universities. 

Master’s Degree Overview

A master’s degree is an advanced-level program that allows students to enhance their knowledge and skills in a specific field. To pursue this degree, having a bachelor’s degree is a must. It can take around two years to finish a master’s degree. You may have to complete 30 to 60 credit hours to get a master’s degree. Some programs may require up to 72 credits, so it can vary. 

A man with eyeglasses sitting and wearing a headphone and looking at his laptop

In a master’s degree, you will experience more difficulty in coursework, assignments, and projects. This degree is also crucial for career development, as it allows you to showcase a higher level of understanding and competence in a specific field. Individuals with master’s degrees earn higher salaries than bachelor’s degree holders. According to a statistical study, the average annual wage of master’s degree holders in the US is $81,848

The pay scale can vary according to the industry that you work in. If you want to excel in your particular domain, earning a relevant master’s degree is essential. It gives you a comprehensive understanding and helps you become a subject matter expert. 

Some of the highest-paying master’s degrees are:

Why Is a Master’s Degree Tougher Than a Bachelor’s Degree?

Here are some reasons why a master’s degree is more challenging than a bachelor’s degree.

Considering these reasons, a master’s degree may seem like a nightmare to you. However, earning it can be rewarding for you in the long run. Let’s find out how.

Benefits of a Master’s Degree

Choosing between a bachelor’s or master’s degree depends on personal goals and aspirations. 

However, if you want to delve deeper into your area of interest, then earning a master’s degree can be rewarding. 

Here are some benefits of the master’s degree that can positively impact your career growth.

High Pay Scale

As already mentioned above, a master’s degree improves your earning potential. The salaries can vary according to different sectors.

Do research to know the current pay scale of master’s degree holders in your field. Comparing it with the salaries of a bachelor’s degree will help you understand how big the difference is. 

Growth Opportunities

A Master’s degree makes you eligible for high-level leadership and management positions. It paves the way for career advancement opportunities, and employers also prefer having highly qualified individuals for top-level positions. 

Social workers, nurse practitioners, and occupational therapists with master’s degrees have massive demands. The same goes for professionals from other fields.

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Competitive Edge

High-level qualification sets you apart from other candidates during the hiring procedure for a specific position. A master’s degree demonstrates your competence, experience, and dedication to excel in a specific role. That is what employers are looking for in the candidates. 

Better Credibility

Top-tier qualifications increase your credibility in a particular industry, which is beneficial during a job search. It improves your reputation in any organization because individuals with master’s degrees have specialized knowledge. 

More importantly, it helps you gain the respect and credibility of your coworkers as they see you as an industry expert. 

Opportunities to Build a Solid Network

Enrolling in a master’s program lets you network with relevant industry experts. It helps you build connections, which can be vital for your professional success. 

Internships during the master’s program allow you to work with experienced professionals. It gives you valuable learning experiences and also helps to grow your professional network. So, your network can be as valuable as your net worth. 

Higher Education Preparation

If you want to opt for a higher-level degree such as Ph.D, then having a master’s degree is a must. It prepares you for the relevant field by helping you harness the required skills and build a thorough application and command over a particular subject. 

Flexibility

By enrolling in a master’s program, you have the flexibility to pursue a degree from anywhere. Most master’s programs are online, so you do not have to go to campus to attend classes. It gives you flexibility to manage your daily schedule and other responsibilities efficiently.

Personal Development

Another benefit that students get from a master’s degree is the opportunity to work on their personal development. During a postgraduate program, you may have to work on different projects without the supervision of instructors.

In such scenarios, individuals must prioritize and submit their work by the given deadlines. It helps to develop prioritization, independence, and management skills, which are vital to personal development. 

Access to Industry Experts and Resources

Most universities that offer master’s programs also give students access to relevant professional resources. They organize seminars and workshops where students meet experienced professionals from their respective fields. 

Participating in such events gives good learning experiences for students. By meeting seasoned professionals, they learn the dos and don’ts of the specific industry. In this way, they know what is required to climb the ladder of success in a particular sector. 

A fresh graduate woman smiling while holding some books

Most students who are planning for a master’s degree after completion of a bachelor’s degree are stuck on some questions. Let’s get answers to those questions to make decision-making easier for you. 

What Is the Easiest Master’s Degree to Get?

Some master’s degrees that many students consider easier are Marketing, Management, Human Resources, Social Work, and Political Science. It would be wrong to say that any of these degrees are easy, as each requires effort and dedication. However, their difficulty level can be lower than that of other programs. 

Is It Easy to Pass a Masters Degree?

No, it is not easy to earn a master’s degree as you will face different challenges during your academic journey. Knowing how to overcome those obstacles and keep your studies on track is important. Getting advice from seniors who have earned a similar degree can be handy. 

What GPA Is Not High Enough for a Master’s Degree?

A GPA below 2.5 may not be enough for a master’s degree. However, you might become eligible for the program if you have good professional experience or can write a compelling personal statement.

Conclusion

A master’s degree is tougher than a bachelor’s degree. However, earning it can provide you with long-term benefits. It will be key to your career growth and help you attain your desired position in a specific field. Choose the right program according to your interest and focus on achieving satisfactory academic results. 

We’re certain of one thing—your search for more information on picking the best graduate degree or school landed you here. Let our experts help guide your through the decision making process with thoughtful content written by experts.