Your guide to master’s programs

Washington is a great town to pursue post-graduate work — with multiple colleges and universities in the area, many offer master’s programs that suit your specific needs. Here are some schools that may be worth a look:

The Catholic University of America

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Catholic University offers master’s degrees in politics that can be a great fit for Capitol Hill staffers looking to further their education.

“They’re very popular degrees and use a lot of resources like staffers who sometimes are guest lecturers,” said James Brennan, provost of the university.

At the same time, Catholic offers a constellation of applied terminal master’s programs aimed at working adults who are seeking to enhance career credentials or to possibly switch careers.

Brennan said master’s degrees are extremely important when it comes to advancing in the workplace — however, it is difficult to generalize across all career paths. “Master’s degrees allow an employee to perform their position at a much higher level of output,” he said.

According to Brennan, every career is changing. “To a very large extent, undergrad degrees are the key to open a door with,” he said. “As we go through the door, we move along the career trajectory and require continuing education to keep individuals on the cutting edge.”

For more information on Catholic’s programs, visit www.cua.edu.

Georgetown University

Georgetown University offers two types of master’s degrees: interdisciplinary and liberal studies. The school also offers a number of professional studies degrees students can work toward, including journalism, public relations, real estate, sports, human resources management and technology.

Robert Manuel, associate provost and dean of the School of Continuing Studies, said that the right master’s degree can be key to success. “If you do the work and it matches your passions and motivations, doors open that will be far greater,” he said.

Georgetown’s continuing education school is built for the individual who works. “Family, professional life and education — we’re geared to help people find a balance of the three,” he said. “It’s a rigorous education, but you can have a balance.”

For more information on Georgetown’s programs, visit www.georgetown.edu.

 The George Washington University

Offering close to 200 master’s programs, George Washington University has something for everyone, according to Dianne Martin, associate vice president of graduate studies and academic affairs.

“Bachelor’s degrees are the basic foundation of an education,” Martin said. “Those who pursue doctorates tend to go into academia — master’s degrees are the middle ground that prepare students professionally.”

Popular among undergrads at GW is its five-year program, which allows students to obtain a master’s degree by staying for an extra year of undergraduate education. An alternative to a traditional master’s degree is a certificate program.

“Certificates allow students to become a little more advanced in a certain field,” Martin said. “Many end up obtaining enough credits to start a master’s anyway.”

GW also cooperates with working professionals by offering night and online classes — some courses are taught entirely online. In other courses, students can take one Saturday class per month to obtain a degree.

For more information on George Washington University, visit www.gwu.edu.

American University

American University has many options for the working Capitol Hill professional. It offers an interdisciplinary master’s in political communication, administered jointly by the School of Public Affairs and School of Communication, in what is a fast-growing field not only in Washington but also across the country.

The school also offers a Master’s of Public Administration degree, which gives students the skills necessary for a career in public administration “within the U.S. constitutional context,” according to its website. Other options include a master’s of public policy; a master’s in justice, law and society; a master’s in sustainability management; a master’s in social enterprise; and a Ph.D. in communication.

More information on American University can be found at www.american.edu.

George Mason University

George Mason, located in Fairfax, Va., offers more than 100 graduate degree and certificate programs, many of which are available in the evenings between 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Courses are taught at a variety of George Mason campuses, including Arlington, Fairfax, Prince William and Loudoun counties.

George Mason has a law school as well as graduate programs in arts, humanities and social sciences, and an extensive education master’s degree.

For more information on George Mason, visit www.gmu.edu.

University of the District of Columbia

UDC offers graduate and professional studies programs as well as a law school for interested applicants.

Students have their choice of taking graduate programs at its College of Arts and Sciences, School of Business and Public Administration or School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

UDC has plenty of financial aid options available for students. Those interested in applying to one of their graduate programs should visit www.udc.edu.