Skip to main content

What’s Special About Professional Master’s Degrees?

Interest in professional master’s degrees is growing, but what are they exactly? How are they different from traditional master’s degrees? 

Real-World Industry Focus

Professional master’s degrees are targeted at working adults looking to advance their careers or become more marketable in their fields. That’s why these programs focus on honing experience rather than on conducting research, and often have industry sponsors or partners. Instead of a thesis, candidates complete a Capstone project that solves a real-world industry problem.

Experience Matters

Admission requirements are also different. For example, a GRE or GMAT score is typically not required for application to a professional master’s program. Candidates are chosen based on their professional experience, career aspirations, and overall fit for the degree.

Business and Leadership

Unlike traditional master’s degrees, professional master’s programs emphasize technical training and the development of in-demand business and leadership skills. Learners are able to directly apply their learning in their jobs as they pursue their degrees.


Although professional master’s degrees have been available in various areas of study in recent years, they are relatively new in the science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) area. For example, numerous STEM-related master’s degrees are available online or off campus in the University System of Georgia (USG). But they typically don’t have the business, leadership, and experiential components that professional master’s degrees offer.

Professional Masters Degrees at Georgia Tech

GTPE offers two STEM-related professionals master’s degrees: the Professional Master’s in Applied Systems Engineering (PMASE) and the Professional Master’s in Manufacturing Leadership (PMML). PMASE is designed for experienced, working professionals seeking to build or expand their systems engineering skills. PMML is geared to working professionals in manufacturing interested in manufacturing-specific, technical, leadership, and management training.