Only very small parts of the Malaysian and Singaporean populations hold a [master's degree in science/Master of Science degree].

First, though I know a master's degree in science is correct here, I'm not sure if a Master of Science degree is an alternative to it in this case.

Second, should I write "only very small parts of the Malaysian and Singaporean populations" or "only a small part of the Malaysian and Singaporean population".

Thank you so much in advance!

  • The exact naming of university degrees is a very strange and archaic part of the English language. It's useful to know, but don't imagine that the details apply to anything else. (It can also vary in the details between countries.) Apr 18 at 21:19

1 Answer 1


Master of Science is the title of a degree. Many "Master's" degrees taken in a science subject would lead to an MSc. But there would be exceptions and edge cases. My own university offered mathematics students free choice in whether to have an MSc or an MA - the course was identical, the only difference was the certificate.

It probably doesn't make any difference in this context. You can probably assume that, at the accuracy of this data, all Master's degrees are MScs

("Part" or "Parts", both are reasonable)

The word "Arts" in "Master of Arts" or Magister Artium is not "art" in the sense of painting and sculpture. "Art" means any skill as a result of learning or practice, and originally included the study of nature that would now be called "science". It was in contrast to practical skills like being a master carpenter or a master cutler. A student would become a "master of learning" that is "Magister Artium". Having become a master, the next stage would be to become a teacher, and one qualified to teach other students would be a "Doctor". As language developed, "Art" came to mean particularly those skills of painting and sculpture, and "Master of Science" was invented. Later lots of other types of Master's degrees were developed. But MA is still used for many degrees in subjects like History, Geography, Literature, Economics, Law, Theatre, Philosophy, Architecture and many many others. The whole classification of "science degrees" is suspect. Sure Physics is a science degree... But what about Maths? Psychology? Economics? What about joint degrees "Physics and Economics" or "Physics and Philosophy"? What about education degrees, is a master's degree in "Science education" a science degree? There are so many questions, all of which are completely irrelevant to the test!

  • Thank you! One more question. I've noticed that "a PhD in art" and "a Master of Arts" are more common than "a PhD in arts" and "a Master of Art", at least according to the Ngram. Why is that so?
    – Ken Adams
    Apr 18 at 8:25
  • and at some especially idiosyncratic universities (notably Cambridge University), a person can take a single course and (eventually) end up with both a Master's of Arts and Master's of Science degree (strictly speaking the MA is from the first 3 years, and the MSc from the final year, but all are completed as part of the same course on the same subject)
    – Tristan
    Apr 18 at 15:29
  • @KenAdams (1) "Art" and "arts" can mean different things; especially in the case of "PhD in art(s)", "art" suggests that the PhD is in a "traditional" art field (e.g. painting, design, music, acting), while "arts" may suggest a broader field that's "opposed" to sciences. (2) n-gram while helpful can give misleading results, e.g. "a PhD in Art History" will be counted in "a PhD in art".
    – xngtng
    Apr 18 at 16:25
  • 2
    @JamesK I wouldn't make that assumption at all. There are loads of different Master's degrees (MA, MPhil, MSc, MEng, MPhys, MChem) that could be awarded for science studies.
    – OrangeDog
    Apr 18 at 16:45
  • 1
    @xngtng "Arts" are not "opposed" to sciences at all. The sciences are all a subset of the "Arts". "Art" as a subject is not one of the "Arts". Instead it is a "Fine Art".
    – OrangeDog
    Apr 18 at 16:49

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .