If you are here, that means you have decided to go to graduate school but have yet to choose a type of Masters programme you want to study. And you may have some questions: What are the benefits of a one-year vs. two-year Masters programme? Which one is better? The short answer is: it depends. Both have different advantages and disadvantages, but what matters most is your end goal.

To help you decide, we have summarised the main differences between both and how each one can help you, according to your goals.

One-year vs. two-year Masters

One-year Masters

The first and most obvious reason to choose a one-year Masters programme is the length. It’s a quick path to take if you are just looking for a degree or to obtain certain skills to move up the ladder in your current company. It’s also less expensive and if you are taking time off work, a one-year programme can save you a year of opportunity cost.

On the other hand, one-year Masters programmes are much more intensive and before you know it, you are graduating. Most one-year programmes either don’t offer internships, or, if they do, they tend to be curtailed since there isn’t enough time and that might be an opportunity you don’t want to miss out on.

Two-year Masters

A two-year Masters programme is what most US universities offer and it allows you to progress at a more breathable pace. It is an immersive experience which allows you to get a better feel of the city or country, especially if you are studying abroad, and experience the culture and build a better network. Summer internships are another advantage of the two-year programmes.

On the downside, a two-year Masters is more costly and time-consuming. If you are currently working, planning on staying in this company and don’t want to go salary-free for two years, this might not be the best option for you. Even if that’s not the case, there will still be a two-year employment gap which you will have to explain to future potential employers.

When should I choose a one-year Masters?

If there is a clear goal in your mind and you are content in your field, a one-year Masters programme is a great choice. People with longer work experience and a proven quantitative aptitude tend to prefer this type of programme, because they can handle the intensity of the coursework.

Also, if you want your company to sponsor your studies, they might be more inclined to do so if you finish your degree sooner. Not everyone can afford to dedicate two years to studies and it will be a less-expensive option, especially since you will be salary-free for a year.

When should I choose a two-year Masters?

A two-year Masters programme is ideal for people fresh out of undergrad school or with less than three years of work experience, people who are still undecided about their field of expertise and people who want to steer their career in a new direction.

The longer programme allows you to take more courses, build your skills at a steady pace and form a solid network. Taking a summer internship will also be on the cards for you, which is a great opportunity to try out a new role without having to commit to it.

The bottom line is you need to make sure you understand what you need and want from your Masters degree at this point in your career and make that choice accordingly.