Master's Degree

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Master’s Degree


the second academic degree awarded in institutions of higher learning in the United States, Great Britain, and other countries in which the Anglo-American system of education has been adopted. In the Middle Ages the master’s degree (magister artium liberalium) was conferred upon teachers of the “seven liberal arts.” Later it was awarded to graduates of philosophy departments of universities, and in the 19th century it was replaced by the degree of doctor of philosophy.

In prerevolutionary Russia the master’s degree was awarded by all university faculties except medical faculties, and individuals receiving it were eligible to hold a chair. The master’s degree in pharmacy and veterinary science was the highest degree awarded in these fields. The degree was awarded after the completion of university courses, the passing of an oral examination in a given field, and the public defense of a dissertation approved by the faculty. Candidates holding a doctoral degree from a foreign university were allowed to take the examination for the master’s degree. Those candidates who had passed the examination but had not defended a dissertation were called magistranty. The doctoral degree was awarded for outstanding master’s dissertations.

There is no master’s degree in Soviet higher education or in the system of scholarly titles and degrees. In other countries the master’s degree is conferred upon those who have graduated from a university or an equivalent institution with a baccalaureate, who have completed an additional academic program of one or two years, and who have passed special examinations and defended a dissertation. The disciplines covered by the examinations and the scope of the dissertation are established by the universities and other higher educational institutions. As a rule, the master’s degree is not awarded in law and medicine, where the degrees doctor of medicine and doctor of law are conferred. The qualifications of individuals receiving a master’s degree are approximately equivalent to the qualifications of graduates of Soviet higher educational institutions (five-year program) who have defended a diploma project before the State Examination Commission.


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