What’s in a Master’s degree? Is there something that makes this distinctly different to the Bachelor’s degree? Why do some universities have a two-year Master’s, while others have a shorter course?
Australia is examining the national structures for the Master’s courses and trying to standardize university offerings. Currently, at Curtin we have a three-semester Master of Logistics programme. MIT has a nine-month Master of Supply Chain Management (they also charge more than Curtin does!) At Curtin we also have a two-year Master of Commerce.
So at MIT I could do two Master degrees in the time that it takes me to do one at Curtin? Sound fair?
Some courses have a heavy research focus with an emphasis on preparing students for intensive research-based study in their doctoral programme. Others are ‘taught’ courses with much smaller projects, intended as advanced study following a Bachelor programme.
Will the national standardization prove useful? Possibly, but there is a huge amount of administrative work meanwhile while it is prepared. Some universities may not be able to offer ‘distinctive’ programmes and thus lose some competitiveness. It would, however, stop the ‘race to the bottom’ as institutions attempt to compete with increasingly shorter, faster, and more compressed offerings. Standardization may also prevent universities from experimenting with new models, reducing long-term innovation in the sector.