30-Credit Master's Degree

Counting credits

Although you normally need more than 30 credits to complete master's-level coursework, a select few 30-credit master's degree programs are offered by institutions in a variety of fields. Such programs typically fulfill the minimum requirements necessary to earn a degree and may not provide students with the chance to produce thesis work or conduct in-depth research, but there are also advantages to the shortened fields of study.

About a 30-Credit Master's Degree

A master's degree, regardless of credit amount, can give you the experience and skill needed to move up or explore new opportunities in your chosen career field. Taking a 30-credit program might save you some cash, too, since most programs require more credit hours. However, it's important to realize that you'll still have to budget plenty of money and time to complete your degree.


A 30-credit master's degree holds a number of advantages over bachelor's degrees and even over more traditional master's programs. It can mean:

  • a higher salary
  • a promotion
  • better networking contacts
  • enhanced expertise
  • better credentials
  • money-saving opportunities
  • shorter study time
  • more efficient coursework

The total amount of time it will take to complete the program depends on credit breakdown per class and courseload per unit, but some students can manage to finish 30-credit programs in one year or less.


Not everything about a 30-credit program is ideal.

  • Employers may be less willing to hire you if you've completed only 30 credits. The logic is that more experienced candidates have opted for programs with a greater number of credits and may also have completed thesis work or high-level research in an applicable field.
  • With their great emphasis on efficiency and scheduling, some 30-credit programs may not offer the variety of courses or the depth that students might expect.
  • The programs that are academically rigorous can be very tough to squeeze into a 30-credit structure.
  • Although financial aid is available for most master's programs, even the minimum number of credits requires a substantial investment for most students.

Program Offerings

Below is a sampling of 30-credit degree programs around the United States.

  • California University of Pennsylvania, or Cal U, offers a master of education in school administration degree. Aimed toward teachers, school administrators, and prospective principals, it encompasses a 30-credit program that fulfills all of the certification requirements for becoming a principal at any K-12 school. The course of study combines field work with traditionally structured learning and performance assessment.
  • The Penn State College of Education offers a 30-credit M.Ed. master's degree program in educational leadership. Students do need to meet thesis requirements to earn their degrees. Their course selection can reflect an emphasis on school administration, professional development, or curriculum and school policy.
  • Seeking an online degree? The University of New England has you covered with their 30-credit online program in advanced educational leadership. The program offers certification and classes in school law and finance as well as an internship option.
  • An M.S. degree in biomedical engineering at the University of Wisconsin - Madison requires either 24 or 30 credits and accepts students with a variety of engineering backgrounds.
  • The University of Alaska - Fairbanks has a number of 30-credit master's programs, including a master's of art, master's of science, MBA, master's of civil engineering, and master's of education.

Treat a 30-credit program as you would any other. Before you commit to it, talk with past graduates, investigate financial aid, look at course schedules, and evaluate how completing the program could benefit you.

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30-Credit Master's Degree