A master of advanced studies or master of advanced study (MAS, M.A.S., or MAst.) is a postgraduate degree awarded in various countries. Master of advanced studies programs may be non-consecutive programs tailored for "specific groups of working professionals with well-defined needs for advanced degree work" or advanced research degrees. With the exception of the UK, advanced studies programs tend to be interdisciplinary and tend to be focused toward meeting the needs of professionals rather than academics.
The University of Cambridge began offering the master of advanced study in 2010 as a one-year master's degree in Mathematics as a replacement for the "Part III exam in Mathematics". Cambridge currently offers master of advanced study degrees in four fields of study. The University of Warwick has approved the introduction of a master of advanced study (MASt) degree in Mathematics for the 2013/2014 year.
In the United States, the master of advanced study also the master of advanced studies degree is a post-graduate professional degree issued by numerous academic institutions, but most notably by the University of California. M.A.S. programs tend to "concentrate on a set of coordinated coursework with culminating projects or papers rather than emphasizing student research" and frequently are structured as interdisciplinary offerings.
France and francophone countries
The Diplôme d'études approfondies or DEA (Diploma of Profound Studies) was a degree in France from 1964 to 2005. It was a postgraduate degree (diplôme de troisième cycle), aimed to prepare for advanced doctoral studies. In order to award a government sanctioned degree (diplôme national) for a DEA, the university or institution had to require its students to complete a minimum 90-page thesis with a bibliography based on the students' original research, and a thesis defense. In addition to the research, thesis, and its defense, higher-ranking institutions (grands établissements) often required one-year of classroom study, an internship, a written exam, and an oral exam. Although only credited with one-year, it often took these students two to three years to receive the diploma. Entrance in DEA programs was permitted only to holders of the maîtrise universitaire, a one-year degree aimed to be an initiation to research methods. Despite the thesis requirement, the DEA is considered equivalent to the North American "All But Dissertation" or ABD status within a doctoral program or a master of philosophy (M.Phil.) or master of research (M.Res.) degree.
The Bologna Process was implemented in France in 2002. In 2005, the DEA and the maîtrise were fused into a two-year degree called Master. At first, the first year of the Master (Master 1 or M1 in everyday speech) was in fact a one-year stand-alone research program and the second year (Master 2 or M2) an introduction to further research. This was gradually overturned by more Bologna-compliant programs, where the M1 introduces to research methods and M2 culminates in actual research. One can say that the old DEA idea (a one-year degree preparatory to PhD research) is now extinct in France.
The DEA and Diplôme d'études supérieures spécialisées (DESS) were offered in many places and may continue to be offered in countries that apply the French university style, sometimes with some minor differences, such as Algeria, Belgium, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Morocco, Canada (Quebec), Spain, Tunisia, and most Francophone countries.
In the French-speaking universities of Switzerland, the DEA, now master of advanced studies, was equivalent to the master's degree in English-speaking countries, and it was a one- to two-year degree taken after a Licence (4-year Swiss graduate degree). It generally consisted of a number of courses, with examinations and grades, followed by research in a scientific laboratory. The students would then write a substantial thesis about the scientific work they did, and defend this thesis in front of a committee. The master of advanced studies remains a common post-graduate degree in Switzerland.
In Europe, the DEA degrees are progressively subsumed into the Bologna process master's degrees and research-oriented master of advanced studies degrees.
The degree of master of advanced studies is awarded in Switzerland, Austria and Liechtenstein as a continuing education (Weiterbildung) degree.
In Switzerland, the degree is recognized by federal law. Generally, a university degree is required for admission, but also work experience and non-formal education can be considered in addition to formal education. A MAS requires 60-120 ECTS. and usually consists of course work, independent study and a masters thesis.
This degree also exists in Spain under the name "Diploma de Estudios Avanzados" or "DEA". It confers a higher qualification credential than a master of philosophy or master of studies but lower than doctorate. The so-called "DEA" was achieved in two years: one year of coursework, which included research methods and theoretical approaches of the discipline at stake (depending on the area of specialization) and one year of research. All the work of the first and second years was defended before a panel. The DEA was a prerequisite for the preparation of the PhD proposal and the commencement of PhD research in Spain.