Master of Arts (lat. Magister Artium or lat. Artium Magister; abbreviated as MA or AM) is the holder of a master's degree awarded by universities in many countries. The degree is usually contrasted with the Master of Science degree. This degree usually consists of subjects within the humanities and social sciences, such as history, literature, languages, linguistics, public administration, political science, communication studies, or diplomacy; however, different universities have different agreements and may also offer the degree in fields commonly associated with science and mathematics. The degree may be awarded in connection with completion of courses and examinations, research results, or a combination of the two.
The Master of Arts degree originates from the teaching license (lat. Licentia docendi) of the University of Paris, designed to train "masters" who would be certified teachers of their subjects.
In Germany, the degree of master of arts was called in Latin Magister Artium. This degree, which normally required five years of study, existed in the Holy Roman Empire and its successors, including the German Empire and the Federal Republic of Germany, but not in the former East Germany, where all degree courses led to a diploma degree. Traditional Magister degrees are awarded in the social sciences and most of the humanities (including European studies and economics), with the exception of the visual and performing arts, such as music and theater.
The Magister Artium degree had either a double major degree or a combination of one major and two minors. In 2001, the Master of Arts and Master of Science degrees were introduced in Germany. Thus, the new Master of Arts degrees and the old Magister Artium degrees have existed side by side since 2010; as of 2020 some universities still award the Magister Artium degree. The new Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees together require five years of study, so the new Master of Arts and the old Magister Artium are considered equivalent.
In the Netherlands, Master of Arts degrees