Separating Master Branch files into separate project branches

After migrating code from a TFS server, I was able to push all of our project files to the master branch.

However I am looking to protect certain project folders. The only way I can think of that is to separate our master branch into sub branches to protect those branches for use. Currently our files do not appear as separate branches and are listed all under master.

Is there a way to upload folders as separate branches instead of all under master from local? OR
Is there a way to split master into multiple branches?

Directory structure
Master branch
-Proj fold 1
-Proj fold 2
-Proj web design

What you’re looking for is not the standard way to work with Git. I’d say those “certain” files should be protected through process. For example, the master/code reviewer should not accept merge requests involving those files. Having said that, I believe GitLab released file protect option recently but only for Enterprise edition.