Where to Begin

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Whether you recently received your bachelor’s degree or you're looking to expand your knowledge in your current career or pivot into a new one, CU Denver offers several paths to success. Before applying, we encourage you to learn more about graduate education—and your options—below.

Why Pursue Graduate Education?

A graduate degree can help you advance your career, earn a higher salary, become more competitive in the job market, and deepen your understanding of a subject.

Some fields and jobs require a graduate degree. For example, in medicine, law, academia, and research, master’s or doctoral degrees are often required. If you know the field you want to enter, be sure to check whether a certain degree is required.



What is the Difference Between a Master’s and Doctoral Degree?

Ultimately, the focus of master’s and doctoral degrees are very different.

Master’s degrees focus on skill-building and preparing for or advancing in a particular career. They can be practitioner-based, such as a a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or Master of Public Administration (MPA, or research-based, like a Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Science (MS). They also require fewer credits. Depending on how many courses you take at a time, most master’s degrees can be completed in approximately two academic years.

Doctoral degrees help individuals contribute to their field of interest by specializing in one specific subject. This degree involves producing original research, often in the form of a dissertation or other culminating project. The most common doctoral degree type is a Doctor of Philosophy, or PhD, and there are many disciplines within this degree type. Other types of doctoral degrees include a Doctor of Education (EdD), Doctor of Medicine (MD), and Juris Doctor (JD).

Dual degree options allow a student to complete the requirements for two separate degrees.



What About Non-degree Options, Such as a Certificate, Credential, or One-off Course?

Professionals who want to advance their careers or learn a new skill can participate in a non-degree option. This option does not culminate in a degree but instead provides additional professional development or allows prerequisites to be met for a future degree. Below are different types of non-degree options.

Certificates also verify an individual’s achievement, like a credential does, but are rewarded by CU Denver instead of third parties.

Credentials are issued by third parties and serve as verification that an individual has achieved a certain level of competency in a particular subject matter.

Non-degree or one-off courses are classes you can take alongside other students without being enrolled in a degree program. Many students use this option to meet prerequisites before applying to their degree program of interest.

Ready to get started?

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