Most colleges and universities set individual and varying prerequisites for admission into a master's degree program. Institutions generally require a bachelor's or equivalent degree and additional standardized test results.

Bachelor's Degree

The prerequisite that all master's programs have in common is prior attainment of a bachelor's degree. Highly specialized master's degrees in science and technology will generally require a bachelor's degree in the same field, while most other fields do not. For international students from educational systems that do not separate bachelor's and higher degrees, colleges generally require a minimum of four years of study at the university level.

Standardized Testing

Most master's degree programs have a standardized-testing requirement. The most common upper-level standardized tests are the Graduate Readiness Exam and the Graduate Management Admission Test. Tests for specialty fields include the Law School Admission Test and the Medical College Admission Test.


Master's degree programs usually require the applicant to provide three letters of recommendation from academic or professional contacts.

Essay and Writing Sample

Applicants are often required to write a personal essay detailing the reasons they want to enroll in the program and an explanation as to why they have chosen a particular institution. Some programs also require creative writing samples, articles, or works published in academic journals.

Foreign Language

Many master's degree programs, especially those with an international focus, require some level of knowledge of a foreign language. The requirement is generally two years of study or passage of a foreign language skills test.

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