How Long Does It Take to Earn a Master's Degree?

How long it takes to earn a master's degree can vary widely, including by the type of program you’re choosing to enroll in, what academic level it is and the institution offering it.

Because there are so many factors to consider when it comes to figuring out how long it takes to earn a master's degree, we decided to shed some light on the process. In this article, we'll talk about the average length of a master's degree program and some of the other factors that can affect how long it takes to earn a master's degree in the following sections:

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The Average Amount of Time It Takes to Earn a Master's Degree

A typical master's degree program can take anywhere from 18 to 24 months to complete. Some degree programs may take less time, depending on their credit hours and curriculum requirements, while others can take around 3 or 4 years to complete.

At DeVry, several of our master's degree programs take around two years to complete. For example, our Master's Degree in Business Administration Program (MBA) can be completed in as little as 2 years + 2 months*—or even more quickly with qualifying transfer credits.

Factors That Affect How Long It Takes to Earn a Master's Degree

As we mentioned, there are many different factors that can influence how long it takes to earn a master's degree. Many of these factors can influence the timeline of earning a master’s degree by either slowing down or speeding up the process. Ultimately, you’ll have to speak with the admissions office of the college that offers the program directly in order to get a better idea of how long it takes to earn a master's degree, but here is a list of some of the things you should take into consideration when trying to figure out how long it takes to earn a master's degree:

1. Full-time or Part-time Education

Like many postsecondary education programs, you can enroll in a master's degree program on a part-time or full-time schedule. If you are enrolled as a full-time student, your master's degree program can typically be completed in about two years. If you are enrolled on a part-time basis, it could take longer. Time spent earning your master’s degree can also be extended if you take breaks in between class sessions.

Keep in mind that taking longer to complete your degree program is not inherently a bad thing. Pursuing a master's degree part-time can give you much-needed flexibility that allows you to attend school while keeping prior commitments such as working a full-time job or caring for a family.

2. Curriculum

Every degree curriculum is built differently, and because of that they can vary in overall length and intensity. Some degrees are designed to be completed very quickly, while others are designed to cover more complex concepts, requiring you to take more classes and spend longer in school. Some programs may also have higher credit requirements, which can increase the length of time it takes to complete your master's degree.

3. Credit Requirements

The number of credits needed to graduate from a master's degree program varies from program to program. The number of credits in a master’s degree program can range between 30 and 60 credits.

Taking a look at how many credits a program requires can help you figure out how long it takes to earn a master's degree. In many cases, each course counts for three or four credits. Breaking down the number of courses you take per session and calculating the value of each credit can give you a good idea of how long earning a particular degree takes.

4. Additional Degree Requirements

Finally, any degree requirements that you have not met when you start looking for a master's degree program can affect how long it takes to earn your degree. For instance, just about every master's degree program is going to require you to earn a bachelor's degree before you can enroll.

Another factor is any transfer credits you may be bringing with you from another school or program. Depending on the rules of each master’s program, you may be able to use the credit hours from previously completed courses to count toward your master’s degree, which may play a role in reducing the amount of time you’ll spend at school.

Earn Your Master's Degree with DeVry

At DeVry, we offer a variety of master's degree programs in technology, business, accounting and healthcare as part of our Keller Graduate School of Management. Explore our master's degree programs to find one that’s right for you, or contact our admissions team to answer your questions or for more information about how long it takes to earn a master's degree with us.


*Not including breaks. Assumes year-round, full-time enrollment.