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Oxford political theory-Mphil or Msc?


yuke

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Hi all. I am considering applying to US Phd programs as well as some UK master ones in political theory this autumn. I wonder what the differences between the 2-year Mphil degree and the 1-year Msc degree are, like levels of competition of getting in, the rate of succesful reapplication to US PhD programs upon completion, etc. So if anyone happens to know something, please share on this forum and I am sure there are some others who need to know. Thanks very much!

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I don't know much about the programs, but I do know that sometimes a one-year masters can have some issues. I know Tufts Fletcher School doesn't admit PhD students who don't have a two year masters. This is also the only school I've seen that has this requirement, so take it with a grain of salt.

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I don't know much about the programs, but I do know that sometimes a one-year masters can have some issues. I know Tufts Fletcher School doesn't admit PhD students who don't have a two year masters. This is also the only school I've seen that has this requirement, so take it with a grain of salt.

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Hi all. I am considering applying to US Phd programs as well as some UK master ones in political theory this autumn. I wonder what the differences between the 2-year Mphil degree and the 1-year Msc degree are, like levels of competition of getting in, the rate of succesful reapplication to US PhD programs upon completion, etc. So if anyone happens to know something, please share on this forum and I am sure there are some others who need to know. Thanks very much!

Yuke, I have a lot of info, so I'm going to throw a lot at you.

First, check out www.thestudentroom.co.uk , specifically the postgraduate section. It's a UK website, so there's a lot of Oxbridge stuff.

Second, consider Cambridge. I applied to both (and the MSc at LSE) for the MPhil in a related field. I got waitlisted then rejected at Oxford (the cads) but accepted at LSE and Cambridge, and the latter is where I'll be going this year. Admittedly, Oxford's department is superior for my field, but it's also a year longer and more expensive. For Politics, however, most consider Cambridge's department to be superior, and to my knowledge their degrees are only one year as well. I would check out what they have to offer.

Third, the difference between the MSc and the MPhil is that the MPhil is generally considered a higher degree, similar to an ABD (all-but-dissertation) level grad student. For instance, I think it's Columbia's PhD program that awards the MA after 2 years, the MPhil after 4, then the PhD after 5-6. At Oxbridge, MPhils are more individual research based as opposed to the MSc being coursework/exam/essay based. So it's really up to you to decide which is more in tune with your interests, though given that you're looking at PhD programs, I would suspect the MPhil is where you want to be. However, obviously both are fantastic degrees to have from well-respected universities.

As for admissions information at Oxbridge - expect about 1/4 to get in. That seems really high (25%!) because of what we're used to in the USA, but I think that the UK applicant pool is just as competitive because though there are fewer apps, the quality is more consistently high (ie no clunkers apply). If you apply broadly - Oxbridge, LSE, UCL, KCL, Exeter - you'll stand a good chance of getting into at least one or two. They love US applicants because we pay easily triple what home students pay, which helps in the recession.

Finally, chances for application to US PhD programs. I was somewhat surprised when a Yale professor told me via email that they receive quite a few Oxbridge MAs applying, so one still needs to distinguish oneself with good recommendations and good research. That makes sense, obviously, but I think it would certainly improve an application substantially - just as any solid research or work experience would.

Hope it helps.

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I would also add University of Essex as a top master's program in the UK. They are ranked 1st in research and they seem to have a stronger quant focus - which might be a plus if you consider to go back to the U.S. for a Ph.D.

Sorry, too right. I meant Essex, not Exeter.

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Yuke, I have a lot of info, so I'm going to throw a lot at you.

First, check out www.thestudentroom.co.uk , specifically the postgraduate section. It's a UK website, so there's a lot of Oxbridge stuff.

Second, consider Cambridge. I applied to both (and the MSc at LSE) for the MPhil in a related field. I got waitlisted then rejected at Oxford (the cads) but accepted at LSE and Cambridge, and the latter is where I'll be going this year. Admittedly, Oxford's department is superior for my field, but it's also a year longer and more expensive. For Politics, however, most consider Cambridge's department to be superior, and to my knowledge their degrees are only one year as well. I would check out what they have to offer.

Third, the difference between the MSc and the MPhil is that the MPhil is generally considered a higher degree, similar to an ABD (all-but-dissertation) level grad student. For instance, I think it's Columbia's PhD program that awards the MA after 2 years, the MPhil after 4, then the PhD after 5-6. At Oxbridge, MPhils are more individual research based as opposed to the MSc being coursework/exam/essay based. So it's really up to you to decide which is more in tune with your interests, though given that you're looking at PhD programs, I would suspect the MPhil is where you want to be. However, obviously both are fantastic degrees to have from well-respected universities.

As for admissions information at Oxbridge - expect about 1/4 to get in. That seems really high (25%!) because of what we're used to in the USA, but I think that the UK applicant pool is just as competitive because though there are fewer apps, the quality is more consistently high (ie no clunkers apply). If you apply broadly - Oxbridge, LSE, UCL, KCL, Exeter - you'll stand a good chance of getting into at least one or two. They love US applicants because we pay easily triple what home students pay, which helps in the recession.

Finally, chances for application to US PhD programs. I was somewhat surprised when a Yale professor told me via email that they receive quite a few Oxbridge MAs applying, so one still needs to distinguish oneself with good recommendations and good research. That makes sense, obviously, but I think it would certainly improve an application substantially - just as any solid research or work experience would.

Hope it helps.

Thank you very much, Balderdash! Really helpful... I have a friend who will go to Cambridge for Mphil this autumn, too, but in my field. Then I guess I would apply to Oxbridge Mphil and some others. I also heard the same thing from a Yale professor about their preference for Oxbridge MAs mainly because of the reference letters and student quality. For all, I won't quit applying to US PhD programs, only want to see what's going to happen. LOL

Then again, thanks for sharing. And good luck with Mphil in Cambridge and application!

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I don't know much about the programs, but I do know that sometimes a one-year masters can have some issues. I know Tufts Fletcher School doesn't admit PhD students who don't have a two year masters. This is also the only school I've seen that has this requirement, so take it with a grain of salt.

Yeah, I have thought about that and will take that into account. Thanks!

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I would also add University of Essex as a top master's program in the UK. They are ranked 1st in research and they seem to have a stronger quant focus - which might be a plus if you consider to go back to the U.S. for a Ph.D.

Ok. I am checking it out. Thank you for adding, Serotonin_addict.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Ok. I am checking it out. Thank you for adding, Serotonin_addict.

I would just add that the MSc at Oxford in particular is not intended as a standalone degree. It is treated more like the first year of a PhD, equivalent to the first 2 years at a US university. So if you apply, you will be expected to have a very clear idea of your eventual doctorate. An MSc elsewhere (like LSE for example) is a standalone degree but as it is only 1 year long, don't expect to have good references or any real advantage in your applications for PhD programs since your applications will be due before you've got any formal assessment/exams.

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