What Is a Master Service Agreement?

by Kimberlee Leonard ; Updated September 26, 2017
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As with all contracts, a master service agreement is a contract that states the responsibilities and obligations of one party with another. Government contractors often use an MSA that covers several areas of agreement with a variety of agencies. Corporations may use MSAs to create a blanket contract for their entire operations platform.

Government MSA

A master service agreement engages services with the Department of General Services or other state agency. A master service agreement obligates the agency that signs the agreement as well as the divisions of that agency under its authority.

User Service Agreeement

Credit cards and Internet terms of use agreements are forms of master service agreements. They're used by companies to limit liability and define responsibilities across mass populations of customers.

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Strategic Partners

Affiliate programs often use a master service agreement to define how two entities function collectively. Strategic partners and affiliates are generally a predefined partnership by one entity needing others to help distribute product or services.

What it Defines

A master service agreement defines rates, services, responsibilities and other obligations by both parties. Though it is an agreement between two parties, one party usually has control over and limits liabilities.


Master service agreements define responsibilities and obligations and limit liability in their definitions, but they don't relieve parties from negligent or fraudulent activities.

About the Author

With more than 15 years of professional writing experience, Kimberlee finds it fun to take technical mumbo-jumbo and make it fun! Her first career was in financial services and insurance.

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