Master's Degree 

An advanced degree in a specific area of study. For example: 

  • Master of Arts (M.A.)
  • Master of Science (M.S.)
  • Master of Education (M.Ed.)
  • Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.)
  • Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.)

Specialist Degree 

Study beyond the master's level. For example: 

  • Specialist in Education (Ed.S.)

Professional Degree

A degree that prepares individuals to enter specific professions. For example: 

  • Juris Doctor (J.D.) 
  • Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) 
  • Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.) 
  • Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S)
  • Master of Divinity (M.Div.)

Doctoral Degree

The highest post-undergraduate degree. Most require completion of an academic program, a comprehensive exam, and a dissertation. Some examples include: 

  • Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
  • Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.)
  • Doctorate of Psychology (Psy.D.)


Post-doctorate programs do not confer a separate degree, but they provide further experience, normally in order to advance an academic career. Many are completed at the end of a Ph.D. They allow degree holders to pursue advanced study, research, or training in a specific area.

Joint Degrees

Some schools also offer joint degree programs, such as the J.D./M.B.A. and M.D./Ph.D. programs. Many programs have an accelerated structure that allows students to finish two degrees more quickly as a joint degree than they could separately.