Jump to content
YankGirl02

Is a UK masters degree valid in the US?

Recommended Posts

I'm sure this has been asked ad nauseum but I'm desperate!

I have a BA in psychology from an American university (I'm American). I want to get my masters at a UK institution, most likely applying to schools in Scotland (St Andrews, Edinburgh, etc). The degree would probably be in something like counseling, or general psychology.

If i plan to return to the US, will this hurt me in terms of job prospects? I have no idea what my long term career goals are, but I may down the line apply to clinical psychology PhD programs in the US. If I have a masters from the UK, will it kill my chances of being accepted into PhD programs?

I know to practice psychology you need to be certified specifically in the US but that'll be way in the future. I'm more worried about getting into PhD programs or getting other jobs related to counseling - I know in the US there are certain jobs open to people with masters in psychology/counseling, but if I have a UK masters in these subjects, is that like a death sentence for my career?

Has anybody else been in this position?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I applied to US phds with my UK master in Psychological research. I have got accepted to my top choice US school (not clinical program). Not sure if there's master's program in clinical psych in the UK though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nah I haven't been looking at a master's in clinical psych really, more like a masters in research/counseling/applied psychology...if I want to go on and do clinical, I'd do a PhD in the US

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey there,

I've been looking into am MPP program at Edinburgh University. I'm also a USA student and I got my BA from American University!

I'm in the same boat as you, trying to navigate and figure out if going to a UK institution will hurt job prospects or if individuals/ institutions will look at my degree in a different way.

After talking to other USA students getting their degrees in the UK, my current manger, my former manager, and alumni of different ages from the University Edinburgh who have gotten their masters (MSc), my parents, here is what I have found.

1) Everyone has different perspectives on this matter. In the end of the day, it depends on who is looking at your application. One hiring manager may know of and value the smallest school from the smallest town in the smallest state over a University which is ranked in the top 20 in the world, whereas others may see St. Andrews, Edinburgh, Kings, etc, recognize and know the tremendous value of graduating from such a top ranked school.

2) It depends on what your interests are. Are you interested in a subject matter of psychology/ counseling which is content based in something that is U.S. based? If so, there may be value in going to an institution based in the USA? Additionally, if you are interested in going for a PhD, is there value in going to grad school at the same place as where you want to get your PhD?

3) It is important to see if there is an outside body which accredits your program from Scotland. For instance, the program that I am interested in is currently seeking accreditation from an external USA. and European body. If you are able to show that your program is accredited by an outside organization that is recognized by other countries (such as the USA), then other organizations shouldn't have any questions. Also, if you need a licence in order to practice say counseling in the USA, find out what the requirements are and if the Scottish University of your choice meets those requirements.

4) It may be worthwhile to see if you can get your hands on a syllabus of a USA institution that you are interested in and a syllabus of a Scottish institution. Just so you can compare notes and see what you would be getting and to see if the courses match up.

5) Connections, connections, connections. I've noticed that in my field, among other fields, in order to land a job, and sometimes getting into schools as well, it is all about who you know. See what kind of connections the schools have which can help you.

6) Contact the course organizer/ contact and find out if/ how many students successfully obtained a masters degree from the University and then was able to get into grad school, or land a job in the USA.

7) Information- Contact everyone and anyone you know. Speak to old internship advisers, old professors, attend information sessions, etc in order to find out as much information about different programs, and the necessary steps you need to take in order to get to where you want to go.

8) Be able to explain it- People may ask you why you went to a U.K. institution. So be prepared to explain your reasoning behind it. Make sure your reasons are positive and describe it as a strength. For instance you may say that you wanted to learn about psychology or counseling from an international perspective, etc.

Hope this helps!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have an MA from a UK institute (Russell group) and have been accepted into all programs applied to.... Englands education system isn't awful...

Which academic discipline are you in?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm sure this has been asked ad nauseum but I'm desperate!

I have a BA in psychology from an American university (I'm American). I want to get my masters at a UK institution, most likely applying to schools in Scotland (St Andrews, Edinburgh, etc). The degree would probably be in something like counseling, or general psychology.

If i plan to return to the US, will this hurt me in terms of job prospects? I have no idea what my long term career goals are, but I may down the line apply to clinical psychology PhD programs in the US. If I have a masters from the UK, will it kill my chances of being accepted into PhD programs?

I know to practice psychology you need to be certified specifically in the US but that'll be way in the future. I'm more worried about getting into PhD programs or getting other jobs related to counseling - I know in the US there are certain jobs open to people with masters in psychology/counseling, but if I have a UK masters in these subjects, is that like a death sentence for my career?

Has anybody else been in this position?

Hey! I currently go to American University and have been accepted into the MSc Counselling Studies program in Edinburgh. I am also waiting to hear back from their MSW program. I had similar concerns but it is my understanding that a UK degree will be recognized here with no problems. I'm happy to tell you more about what I know and share my thoughts/questions if you want. We are in very similar positions!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

original scottish univertsities, such as St Andrews, actually grant Masters as a first degree as a result of a 5-year program ))

but that is an ancient feature limited only to several universities in scotland

generally most UK degrees are recognized as valid in the US, even though they often (in case of English degrees) shorter in study period than equivalent US degrees

I personally having experience with both systems think that English (not scottish) education is more shallow, but I dont think it is politically possible in the next 100 years, that US will stop recognizing english university degtrees ))

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

original scottish univertsities, such as St Andrews, actually grant Masters as a first degree as a result of a 5-year program ))

but that is an ancient feature limited only to several universities in scotland

generally most UK degrees are recognized as valid in the US, even though they often (in case of English degrees) shorter in study period than equivalent US degrees

I personally having experience with both systems think that English (not scottish) education is more shallow, but I dont think it is politically possible in the next 100 years, that US will stop recognizing english university degtrees ))

Scottish degrees at the Ancient universities are four years and you graduate with an MA(Hons.). They're of no higher quality than BAs from English universities.

In my own limited experience I would say I've had a better chance at expanding my subject specific knowledge here. I studied abroad at a liberal arts college for a semester and I much prefer being able to dedicate myself to my topic as I can here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am currently studying for a Master's in the UK, and have been accepted into US unis for PhD studies. If it's somewhere respectable like Edinburgh, Glasgow, St Andrew's or in certain disciplines Stirling, you shouldn't have a problem. The above person is mistaken. Else why do the postgrad classes in one US uni I've applied to have the same content as my 2nd year of undergrad? Remember British undergrad is 3 yr Bachelor's usually, or 4 in Scotland. Perhaps this is true in some special cases. A UK Master's is as different from a US Master's as the PhDs are.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you are applying to unis like Oxbridge, St Andrews, Edinburgh, etc…you should be fine! Some of these names are bigger and better than American schools.

Truth.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I attended Cambridge over the summer and during a Q&A session about grad school, they specifically stated that a UK masters is not equivalent to a US masters, but a UK PhD is equivalent to a US PhD.

 

So unless your goal is to get the masters in the UK, then work in the UK, you'd be better off opting for a PhD out there or staying in the US for a masters.

 

This is just my understanding, hopefully it helps.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I attended Cambridge over the summer and during a Q&A session about grad school, they specifically stated that a UK masters is not equivalent to a US masters, but a UK PhD is equivalent to a US PhD.

 

So unless your goal is to get the masters in the UK, then work in the UK, you'd be better off opting for a PhD out there or staying in the US for a masters.

 

This is just my understanding, hopefully it helps.

Did they say in what ways they weren't equivalent? Because, contrary to hustlebunny's point, my impression is that some UK universities, especially the ancient uni's, consider the US Master's degree to be roughly equivalent to the final year of a UK Bachelor's degree. The thinking goes that a UK Bachelor's is specialized from day one and so, in the three years, your subject specific knowledge and skills are developed to a greater extent than they would be during a US degree, where you spend a huge amount of time studying other subjects. Also, a fair number of US Master's degrees don't require a thesis, which is a central requirement of a UK Master's degree (almost universally). So, for PhD admissions in the UK, a US Master's might not be seen as sufficient preparation for the UK PhD, which is solely research based. I've heard of Cambridge not recognizing US MA's before and requiring PhD applicants to complete a second UK Master's degree before they will accept them for PhD study. Of course in the States, they think a one year Master's degree is too short to learn anything useful and tend to consider UK MA grades as a very, very small aspect of the applicant's education during admissions, or so I've been told.

 

Honestly, as an international student, I find the levels of ignorance about other country's higher education systems from within the academy pretty depressing. 

 

I think the OP's question was specifically about a practical field, though, in which accreditation issues abound, and not about UK degrees more generally (which are certainly considered equivalent to US degrees in general). I would be especially careful with something like this OP, as you could end up spending a lot of money on a degree that will not allow you to do the kind of work you want, and you may then have to spend more in order to become accredited in the US. Sweetpea makes some really great points -  definitely think about what she/he has said.

Edited by wreckofthehope

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd have to agree. I did my undergraduate degrees in a commonwealth country, and our degrees are just as difficult, perhaps more in some regards (much more emphasis on exams than coursework). A 3 year BSc is absolutely equivalent to a 4 year BS from the US. I normally ignore the freshman year of college here when equating my education to the US system. From what I've seen of the courses, it's roughly equivalent to our final year of high school. That being said, we have a very good average standard of high school education compared to the US.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I attended Cambridge over the summer and during a Q&A session about grad school, they specifically stated that a UK masters is not equivalent to a US masters, but a UK PhD is equivalent to a US PhD.

This is true, they are not equivalent. The UK offers two separate master's degrees; the MSt and the MPhil. The MPhil is a two year research degree. The issue that might arise (in seeking a job) is precisely this matter of equivalency. It's a different system. Thus, different names and a lack of understanding of the UK system in the US.

A UK master's won't hurt your chances of returning to the US for a PhD

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

. The MPhil is a two year research degree. 

 

Not always, and not at Cambridge where it is a one year taught Master's degree (mostly...and I mean taught in the sense that UK universities mean it: has a substantial element of coursework that requires class attendance - but usually also a substantial dissertation component)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not always, and not at Cambridge where it is a one year taught Master's degree (mostly...and I mean taught in the sense that UK universities mean it: has a substantial element of coursework that requires class attendance - but usually also a substantial dissertation component)

Hmm, I understood that most schools in the UK (including Oxford) have one year taught programs (MSt) and two year research programs (MPhil), both including a diss component.

But I did some more reading and it seems that, indeed, at Cambridge the MPhil is a one year, at Oxford it is usually a two year, and at most other institutions it is almost always a two year. These divergences are strange, indeed.

Silly Cambridge ;)

Thanks for the info, wreckofthehope!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmm, I understood that most schools in the UK (including Oxford) have one year taught programs (MSt) and two year research programs (MPhil), both including a diss component.

But I did some more reading and it seems that, indeed, at Cambridge the MPhil is a one year, at Oxford it is usually a two year, and at most other institutions it is almost always a two year. These divergences are strange, indeed.

Silly Cambridge ;)

Thanks for the info, wreckofthehope!

Haha, glad to oblige :)

 

It's needlessly confusing, the reason for some of these issues is that Ox and Cam give their undergrads an MA automatically ( well you have to pay £10 or something) seven years after matriculation (at least those are the Ox rules, maybe Cam does it differently); because of that they then have to rename their normal Master's degrees, and so, for instance, in Cam M.Phil gets used for what would be MA or MSc elsewhere, and at Ox MSt gets used (so they keep MPhil for the two year degree). It's ridiculous, but if you get a Master's from Cam the confusion can occassionally  work in your favour ;)

Edited by wreckofthehope

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So, am I ridiculous to be and American student pursuing a MSc in the UK? I spoke with a few people (professors) and they didn't seem to see anything wrong with a MSc from the UK and then coming back to the US for a PhD.

 

This thread seems very focused on Cambridge and Oxford, neither of which I applied to.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good info... does anyone know how advanced practice nursing degrees transfer? I am thinking of doing the same thing - US trained RN/BSN, looking into MSN programs in the UK, to come back to the US after completion. State nursing boards tend to be strict with what they will accept, I am just wondering if people have generally had any luck with MSNs from the UK.

Edited by SarahDale

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.