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MSc, MRes, and MPhil


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Hi everyone,

This is my first post on the grad cafe. Finding this site was a serendipity for me. Anyways, I am applying for the MA English Literature programs in the UK. I am just wondering what the differences are between these degrees —MSc, MRes, and MPhil. Are they equally recognized in the US? I am thinking about doing a MA in the UK and go to the US to pursue a PhD degree. I have already been accepted into the taught programs of English Literature at UCL, University of Manchester, and University of Edinburgh. Thank you.

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Since I'm pretty sure I asked this question last year, I'll answer it this year:

A university offers an MSc because the honours undergraduates are given an MA if they successfully complete their honours year. To distinguish Masters level work from honours undergraduate work, they use the MSc title, even if you aren't in a science discipline. MSc degrees can be taught course degrees (like the first year of an American two year MA) or they can be done by research (these are more like an American masters dissertation). An MSc usually has a smaller dissertation (like it does at Edinburgh) but I don't know if that is normal accross the board (I don't think Oxford's MSc has a dissertation portion, for example.).

An MRes is pretty much the same thing as an MSc by research. They tend to be one year programs designed to help you situate your research interests better if you don't think your ready for doctoral study but plan on pursuing a PhD.

An MPhil works much like a conjoined American MA/PhD. Often you are accepted into the MPhil, and if you pass your exam at the end of one or two years, you can go on to the PhD/DPhil.

As far as I can tell (and Marlowe or Wapyrys can maybe clarify this) these degrees are seen as roughly equivalent to eachother in the U.S. (where many people don't know the difference), but not in Britain (where they do). The masters degree seems pretty universally acknowledge to be the least important of the three (BA, MA, PhD), so whether you get an MSc, MRes, or MPhil probably won't matter too much if you return to the states (though I beleive MPhils are a bit more in depth, but I'm not sure if that would have an impact). That being said, if your masters degree comes from one of the ancient universities, or one of the big London schools, your degree is more likely to be well-regarded, but may still not be recognized as having the same value as an American masters.

If you have any questions about the British university system, or Edinburgh in particular, feel free to PM me! I'm not in the English department (English Language is considered a 'Language Science') but I can answer other questions about studying in Edinburgh/the UK.

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An MPhil works much like a conjoined American MA/PhD. Often you are accepted into the MPhil, and if you pass your exam at the end of one or two years, you can go on to the PhD/DPhil.

Not always...

Antecedent is mostly correct, but there are a couple of things that are different depending on which uni/where you are in the UK etc.

So... an M.A. is what most UK universities offer as a Master's degree in an arts or humanities subject. In Scotland, there isn't really a B.A. degree: they do an M.A. as their first degree. So, in most Scottish universities, like antecedent said, they need o find other names for the degree that is equivalent to an M.A. degree in most of the rest of the U.K. - different uni's do different things but the majority usually go with MSt (Master of Studies), some social sciencey humanities courses will go with MSc (Master of Science). Likewise, at Oxford undergraduates can convert their B.A. into an M.A. without further study, so for their Master's degrees they mostly use MSt. At Cambridge they do the same thing, except they call theirs MPhils. The Cambridge MPhil is just a normal M.A., but an MPhil at pretty much every other university is, like antecedent said, a more research heavy degree and usually directly tied into a doctorate. Because at many places an MPhil would be the degree you got if you didn't manage to complete your doctorate, it is sometimes viewed in those terms...but a Cambridge MPhil probably wouldn't be (at least in UK academia, since people are more likely to know that it's just a normal M.A.).

The MRes is a research Master's... I definitely wouldn't pay international fees to do one... you get almost no supervision or teaching and are left pretty much on your own.

Edited by wreckofthehope
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Hey antecedent, thanks for the mention! I'm honestly not sure how British master's degrees are viewed by U.S. PhD adcomms (TOO MANY ABBREVIATIONS!).

I wrote four 4,000-word papers and one 15,000-word dissertation (I did a taught master's at Edinburgh--congrats, by the way, Kentsu827!--if you have Edi questions, feel free to message me). I have NO clue how this compares to a U.S. MA, but I'm still hoping to get SOME credit if I'm lucky enough to be accepted to a U.S. PhD.

Anyway. The reason I went ahead with it is that it was cheaper than a U.S. MA degree (I'm also European so much cheaper) and it gave me a good idea of what graduate work would be like and if I was cut out for it.

That's pretty much it...I also lived in Manchester for a long while, so feel free to message me about city questions!

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  • 9 months later...

Hello, everyone!

 

I'm aware that I'm finding this post long after it has been answered, but hopefully one of you can help me. I'm in the process of looking at grad schools in the UK because they are much cheaper than the US. I'd like to get a MA in Medieval Studies, but there aren't many scholarships for people like me, unless I take the research route. I can't decide which route to take, taught or research. I do want to get a PhD eventually, but not directly after a masters. So I have two questions:

 

1) Am I gambling too much by taking a taught route (which I can afford without loans) without getting a scholarship in hopes of pursuing a PhD in the long run? There just aren't any. At least none that I found that I am eligible for.

 

2) If I do take the research route, will I actually interact with other students in the department? My favorite part about undergrad was the fact that we participated in discussions in every single class. I loved that. I don't mind lectures at all, in fact I love learning new things. I also love doing my own research. I would just like to be able to work with other students and sort of help each other in our research. So, are there forums or discussions for us to participate?

 

If any of you can help, that'd be great!

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Hello, everyone!

 

I'm aware that I'm finding this post long after it has been answered, but hopefully one of you can help me. I'm in the process of looking at grad schools in the UK because they are much cheaper than the US. I'd like to get a MA in Medieval Studies, but there aren't many scholarships for people like me, unless I take the research route. I can't decide which route to take, taught or research. I do want to get a PhD eventually, but not directly after a masters. So I have two questions:

 

1) Am I gambling too much by taking a taught route (which I can afford without loans) without getting a scholarship in hopes of pursuing a PhD in the long run? There just aren't any. At least none that I found that I am eligible for.

 

2) If I do take the research route, will I actually interact with other students in the department? My favorite part about undergrad was the fact that we participated in discussions in every single class. I loved that. I don't mind lectures at all, in fact I love learning new things. I also love doing my own research. I would just like to be able to work with other students and sort of help each other in our research. So, are there forums or discussions for us to participate?

 

If any of you can help, that'd be great!

 

Have you considered a Fulbright grant? Lots of unis to choose from and not all of them have a lot of applicants. 

 

http://us.fulbrightonline.org/countries/selectedcountry/244

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