A college graduate with a bachelor degree may find that degree to be insufficient for the type of profession he would like to have. It may often be necessary to pursue an advanced degree, such as a US master's degree or US doctorate (also knows as PhD) degree, to advance your career. For example, a US master's degree may be necessary if you are seeking a position as an economist with your local government, or you may need a PhD degree to teach at a university in your country. In addition, some disciplines are taught only at the graduate school program level in the USA. Among these are law, medicine, and dentistry, all of which are doctoral programs.
Not all USA colleges and universities offer masters degree programs. Even fewer offer PhD degree programs. Also, the number of majors offered at the graduate level will usually be much smaller than the number of majors at the undergraduate level. Occasionally, a school will only offer a major at the graduate program level. For example, Stanford University offers a master's degree in business administration, but offers no undergraduate business degree program.
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The US masters degree is a graduate school degree that typically requires two years of full-time graduate school coursework to complete. Unlike students pursuing a bachelor's degree, students in a master's degree program will complete courses that are highly focused in their field of study (their major). As such, students must have already decided on their major before applying to a program.
The US PhD degree or doctoral degree is even more focused and specialized than the master's degree. Some students will complete a masters before applying to a doctorate degree program, but that is not always necessary. Completion of a US doctorate degree typically takes between three and six years. The length of time will depend on the student's educational background (a student with a masters degree may take less time to complete his PhD if it is in the same field), the field of study selected, the student's dedication and ability, and the complexity of the thesis the student has chosen for his PhD. The thesis is a very long, extensive, and original research paper that is a requirement for completing the program. (Some master's programs also require a thesis, but it is much simpler and shorter than the PhD program thesis.)