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Master of Philosophy (M.Phil)

The Master of Philosophy is a postgraduate degree conferred usually as an advanced research degree to candidates. This is a thesis only program that acts as a second Master’s degree before the Ph.D. However, due to its research oriented approach, it is closer to a Ph.D in nature than is a Master’s degree.

Course Overview:

Recognition: Recognized in the UK and similar systems. Only a few universities in the USA and Canada offer this, under special circumstances.

Duration: 2 years

Grading and Assessment: Thesis based in most cases


Global Differences:

An M.Phil program, though largely similar in the UK and other similar higher education systems, aren’t all the same across the globe.

Take for instance the fact that in the US or Canada, the M.Phil degree is not offered, except at a few universities, or under special circumstances. In the US, the M.Phil degree is awarded to Ph.D candidates who have completed all required coursework and qualifying examinations before the completion of their dissertation.


Students that wish to pursue a Master of Philosophy (M.Phil) degree require a prior Master’s degree, and a prior Bachelor’s degree. Other than these, those that wish to study abroad might also have to clear requisite exams.

Why do an M.Phil?

While an M.Phil requires the same skillset of research as the Ph.D, the latter is still considered a more advanced one. However, Ph.Ds are solely research oriented and can typically require anywhere between 3-10 years to be completed, unlike the M.Phil which is a one to two-year program where one acquires insight on the fundamentals of research work, while also sometimes having coursework. An M.Phil, thus, would be an apt option for those that wish to take up a research oriented program without the intensive temporal demands a PhD exacts.

In choosing the degree that is correct for you, ask yourself the following questions

Curriculum: Review the course content and teaching style thoroughly and ask yourself whether it is what you wish to learn and pursue further in your life.

Career Options: Does the degree put you on a path to realizing your career aspirations? Are you interested in a research degree?

Entry Requirements: Do you have the appropriate entry requirements? E.g. Work experience or appropriate undergraduate/graduate degree.

Interests: Do you wish to pursue research work in the field of your choice?