A Master of Arts in Marketing? An MA in Management? The arts have little to do with marketing and management, but a creative inclination is not a necessary prerequisite to join a Master of Arts programme. In fact, it is not fine arts that are mastered, but liberal arts. And what that means is basically the same as what it meant back in classical antiquity when the term originated.
Back then, the concept of liberal arts education did not differ much from how we see it today: it has always aimed at developing knowledgeable, virtuous, ethical, articulate, and curious individuals who can communicate their ideas clearly, know how to follow them through, and look for and use available resources.
In modern day, the best way to explain the difference between the MA and the Master of Science degree would probably be to say that a Master of Arts is more mainstream and socially-centric, nurturing a broader set of social skills in addition to the theory and practice of the discipline of choice. The MSc degree, on the other hand, focuses heavily on scientific learning – good to do when dealing with medicine or finance, right? The MSc is also ideal for those interested in postgraduate research.
In a day and age when it is broadly considered that STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math) is the only pathway to success, a Master of Arts degree can use some defending. So here are 5 great advantages of an MA degree:
1. Teaching methods
A Master of Arts relies heavily on student-teacher interaction, mentorship and collaboration. It is less academic in that sense than an MSc, and focuses greatly on the practical and social application and uses of theories and methods. There is greater freedom of credit selection and the choice spans over the different schools of a university. Faculty is often composed of practicing professionals, in addition to those with Doctoral degrees.
Hanging out with your classmates after class is one of the best feelings ever! (Photo credit: Rikkyo University)
2. Type of skills acquired
In addition to the purely technical skills acquired through a Master of Arts degree, students get the opportunity to hone their soft skills that are highly sought after by employers today. An MA degree would perfect your powers of inquiry, logical thinking and critical analysis. It will also boost your ability to apply theoretical knowledge to current issues, and allow you to take professional initiative. Finally, problem-solving, written and oral expression, communication and presentation skills, all of which are almost always listed in job ads, will come to you more naturally than before.
3. Socially-centric business approach
Unlike Masters of Science programmes, a Master of Arts degree assumes a more mainstream approach to theory application. Students are to consider business theories from a social, anthropological, psychological, and ethical perspective. Public and customer response to business practices, matters of communication and long- and short-term impact of the different business models would be a mandatory part of business studies in a MA degree.
Brand awareness is a huge topic these days, for example. An Masters in Marketing and Communications would teach you how to communicate with target audiences in a clear yet modern way, with real-time relevance.
"Are you listening closely, or do I have to invoke my Master superpowers?"(Photo credit: Penn State University)
4. Career prospects
Employers will always want more and more. Although this is a technological age, the soft skills and critical thinking that a Master of Arts degree encourages, are getting rarer, and hence, in greater demand.
Brian Fox, adjunct professor at Vanderbilt University, says, as quoted by CNBC.com: "Businesses want more now. In places like Google, they want people who are self-motivated and articulate and can think on their own. It's not enough just to have tech skills. Graduates have to do more."
5. Grounds for innovation
That's probably the one word that will summarise our decade when it's over: Innovation. It is precious beyond measure. Innovation breads in knowledgeable, well-read, active, curious minds that know where to look for inspiration. The greatest advantage of a Master of Arts degree is that it is interdisciplinary: it lets you touch various subjects, topics and issues, and learn how to form connections between them and extract whatever is useful in crucial moments.
Whatever the times, a good education can always be made complete with a Masters degree.
So you've decided to pursue a Masters of Arts degree from an international school, but can you finance your studies and your stay abroad? Read about some of the coolest scholarships here: The 5 Best Masters Scholarships