Master of Arts in Malaysia: Why Consider It?

Master’s degrees are highly desirable by most competent professionals as they typically open doors to wider opportunities or prepare one for doctoral studies. 

In fact, a Master’s degree holder is usually seen to enjoy greater job security and earn higher salaries than a compatriot with only an undergraduate degree. 

In practice, Master’s degrees are usually seen as a way to expand one’s knowledge in a specialist field related to their current professional specialisation. It can be either a Master of Science (MS) or a Master of Arts (MA). Over the course of this article, we shall focus on Master of Arts (MA) degrees and their underworkings. 

What is a Master of Arts?

A Master of Arts degree is a graduate degree focusing on a specific discipline within the liberal arts or humanities domain, like English, philosophy, drama, economics, art, or a foreign language. 

A full-time Master of Arts degree typically takes approximately two to three years to complete, depending on one’s chosen specialisation. It opens doors to an array of career options such as administration, consultation, accounting, or even academic research areas.

Master of arts abbreviation

Master of Arts is abbreviated as MA across most postgraduate degree programs globally, depending on the specialisation. For example, MA in Economics.  

Is a Master of Arts the same as a Master’s degree?

Whilst often confused for each other, a Master of Arts is variably different from a Master’s degree. 

A master’s degree is inherently known to provide more in-depth learning than a bachelor’s degree, but it can be a Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Science (MS).

On the other hand, a Master of Arts is fundamentally a postgraduate degree that deepens one’s knowledge of disciplines related to humanities, arts and social sciences. Through a Master of Arts degree program, learners gain important knowledge and skills to excel in fields like education, art and design, human services, languages, journalism and communications.

Master of Arts degree fields

The average Master of Arts degree program should help a competent learner to gain valuable and transferable skills. For instance, surveying, systematic research and critical thinking skills related to disciplines like:

  • Psychology  
  • History
  • International affairs
  • Comparative literature 
  • Political science
  • Sociology
  • Philosophy
  • Art history
  • Journalism and mass communication 
  • Languages (classical languages, German, French, Spanish, Chinese, etc.) 
  • English 
  • Religion 
  • International affairs
  • Comparative literature 
mass communication
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Advantages of doing a Master of Arts

Specialisation in your field of study

A Master of Arts program should enable any driven professional to advance their knowledge in a specific field. This goes beyond aiming for a promotion, but adding value and being better at one’s job.

For example, an MA can expose an already competent professional to new cutting-edge approaches in their field. It can also provide avenues to more advanced methodologies prevalent in their field compared to when they first earned their bachelor’s degree. 

These newfound capabilities can enable them to contribute more to their current job or even offer unique skills and knowledge as a specialist consultant.

Career advancement

A Master of Arts degree can help you advance your career, especially if you are striving for a promotion or moving into a management position.

An MA can act as a differentiator to separate the wheat from the chaff, ensuring that the best applicants are selected for a management position.

Lifelong learning

By earning an MA degree, you can expand your wealth of knowledge, preparing you for a life of continual learning. In fact, an MA can impart lifelong skills to an individual besides exposing deeper insights into a discipline, especially as students research different aspects of a topic. 

Research competencies

A master of arts can augment your research, writing, and critical analysis skills. These skills can help you in any professional environment with problem-solving and tackling complex projects that require extensive reporting.

Master of Arts jobs 

UOW Malaysia KDU offers an array of Master of Arts programs that can set you on the path to career success. These programs cut across different disciplines, for example:

Master of Arts in Psychology

A master of arts in psychology essentially dives further into psychological research and theory to equip postgrad students with modern skills needed for real-world application. 

An MA in psychology holder can become a counsellor, work in criminal justice, or even the public health sector. Here are some jobs that Master of Arts in Psychology graduates can pursue

  • Social workers
  • Probation officers
  • Mental health counsellors
  • Case managers
  • Community outreach workers 
  • Researchers
  • Education administrators 
  • Marriage and family therapists 
  • Public policy consultants 
  • Substance abuse counsellors
  • Therapists

Master of Arts in English

An MA in English fundamentally focuses on analysing literary texts from different authors across disparate historical periods and contexts. It can create a firm foundation for a career in public relations, copywriting, technical writing, and teaching. 

Master of Arts in Politics

An MA in politics aims to help prepare postgraduate students for careers involving politics and policy. For example, as political consultants, political scientists, public relations specialists.

Master of Arts in Education

An MA degree in education builds upon the knowledge gained during an education-based bachelor’s degree program. It entails a comprehensive study of curriculum instruction and development, counselling and education administration. 

With such a degree, an individual can become a school principal, school administrator, curriculum developer, educational consultant and educational policy analyst.

Master of Fine Arts

A Master of fine arts degree program cuts across fine arts, creative writing, graphic design, photography, and filmmaking.

An MA in an art discipline can help one get a job as a:  

  • Museum educator
  • Music teacher
  • Art teacher
  • Performing artist 
  • Music therapist
  • Graphics Animator
  • Graphic designer
  • Museum director 
  • Dance instructor 
  • Performing artist
  • Art therapist 
Dance instructor
Photo by Budgeron Bach

Master of Art in Social Science

An MA in Social Science is designed for students seeking to make a social impact. This program allows such students to delve deeper into social issues and areas they are interested in.

Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing

This Master’s course offers postgraduate students the opportunity to concentrate on advanced writing techniques. It sets them up for careers as novelists, copywriters, and technical writers. Or even for careers in creative writing teaching at any level, from elementary school to higher education. 

Master of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication

An MA in journalism and mass communication program designed to prepare postgraduate students to remain relevant in the continuously evolving media and communication industry. 

The program perfectly blends theoretical and practical knowledge with scholarly research in mass communication.

Later, students can pursue careers such as:

  • Social media specialist
  • TV or film producer
  • Staff writer 
  • Editor
  • Public relations manager 
  • Advertising manager
  • Copywriting
  • Broadcast journalist
  • Political campaign manager 
  • Event manager 
  • Public relations manager 
  • Advertising manager
  • Social media specialist
  • TV or film producer
  • Digital marketer 

Master of Arts (By Research)

An MA by research is fundamentally a research-based program curated to meet the needs of postgrad students seeking to extend their specialisation in humanities and social sciences.

Master of Arts in Law

An MA in law is principally designed for professionals seeking to expand their competencies in an evolving legal landscape. The program also caters to those seeking to attract promotion in legal firms or companies looking to expand into new markets.  

What is the difference between Master of Arts and a Master of Science?

The core differences between an MA and MS lay in the fact that an MA focuses on arts and humanities while an MS is more geared toward scientific and technical fields.

To contextualise this, Master of Arts degree programs encompass communications, English, literature, linguistics, art, and languages. Furthermore, MA programs involve seminar-like teaching styles based on discussions regarding the subject matter. 

On the other hand, MS programs focus on the scientific and mathematical subject matter. For example, computer science, biochemistry, economics, mathematics, and public health. In fact, MS students engage in extensive lab work, scientific research, systematic analysis, and evaluation. 


All things considered, pursuing a master’s degree allows you to gain specialised knowledge to advance in your professional field. Moreover, as the global work landscape evolves, a master’s degree is more critical than ever as a differentiator of one’s industry expertise and credibility. 

Thus, enhancing their ability to be competitive, not only in Malaysia but across the globe.

Specifically, a master of arts degree program can help any individual gain new skills, climb the management ladder, or even transition to a new field. 

Bottom line, many forward-thinking organisations in Malaysia not only recognise the benefits of a Master of Arts degree but even prefer their employees to always have one.


19 December 2022


Arts and Culture