Master of Philosophy

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The Master of Philosophy (abbr. M.Phil. or MPhil; Latin Magister Philosophiae or Philosophiae Magister) is an advanced postgraduate degree. An MPhil typically includes a taught portion and a significant research portion, during which a thesis project is conducted under supervision. An MPhil may be awarded to postgraduate students after completing taught coursework and one to two years of original research, which may also serve as a provisional enrollment for a PhD programme.

An abbreviation is a shortened form of a word or phrase. It consists of a group of letters taken from the word or phrase. For example, the word abbreviation can itself be represented by the abbreviation abbr., abbrv., or abbrev.

Latin Indo-European language of the Italic family

Latin is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet.

An academic degree is a qualification awarded to students upon successful completion of a course of study in higher education, usually at a college or university. These institutions commonly offer degrees at various levels, usually including bachelor's, master’s and doctorates, often alongside other academic certificates and professional degrees. The most common undergraduate degree is the bachelor's degree, although in some countries lower qualifications are titled degrees while in others a higher-level first degree is more usual.



In Australia, the Master of Philosophy is a research degree which mirrors a Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) in breadth of research and structure. Candidates are assessed on the basis of a thesis. A standard full-time degree often takes two years to complete. [1] [2]

Belgium and Netherlands

In Belgium and the Netherlands, the MPhil is a special research degree, and is only awarded by selected departments of a university (mostly in the fields of arts, social sciences, archaeology, philosophy and theology). Admission to these programmes is highly selective and primarily aimed at those students aiming for an academic career. After finishing these programmes, students normally pursue a PhD programme.[ citation needed ]

Belgium Federal constitutional monarchy in Western Europe

Belgium, officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe. It is bordered by the Netherlands to the north, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast, France to the southwest, and the North Sea to the northwest. It covers an area of 30,688 km2 (11,849 sq mi) and has a population of more than 11.4 million. The capital and largest city is Brussels; other major cities are Antwerp, Ghent, Charleroi and Liège.

Netherlands Constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Europe

The Netherlands is a country located mainly in Northwestern Europe. The European portion of the Netherlands consists of twelve separate provinces that border Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, and the North Sea to the northwest, with maritime borders in the North Sea with Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom. Together with three island territories in the Caribbean Sea—Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba—it forms a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The official language is Dutch, but a secondary official language in the province of Friesland is West Frisian.

The Dutch Department of Education, Culture and Science decided in 2009 not to recognize the MPhil degree. Accordingly, Dutch universities stopped awarding this degree and now award the legally-recognized Master of Arts or Master of Science degrees instead. [3]

A Master of Arts is a person who was admitted to a type of master's degree awarded by universities in many countries, and the degree is also named Master of Arts in colloquial speech. The degree is usually contrasted with the Master of Science. Those admitted to the degree typically study linguistics, history, communication studies, diplomacy, public administration, political science, or other subjects within the scope of the humanities and social sciences; however, different universities have different conventions and may also offer the degree for fields typically considered within the natural sciences and mathematics. The degree can be conferred in respect of completing courses and passing examinations, research, or a combination of the two.

Master of Science masters degree awarded for post-graduate study in the sciences, or occasionally social sciences

A Master of Science is a master's degree in the field of science awarded by universities in many countries or a person holding such a degree. In contrast to the Master of Arts degree, the Master of Science degree is typically granted for studies in sciences, engineering and medicine and is usually for programs that are more focused on scientific and mathematical subjects; however, different universities have different conventions and may also offer the degree for fields typically considered within the humanities and social sciences. While it ultimately depends upon the specific program, earning a Master of Science degree typically includes writing a thesis.


The MPhil is offered at some Canadian universities as a two-year degree involving coursework, examinations, and practice at academic writing. At some institutions, successful completion leads to a guaranteed place on a PhD course with "advanced standing", reducing the length of the PhD by a year. [4]


Indian universities offer MPhil degrees as the most advanced master's degree in the fields of arts, science and humanities. The duration is typically two years long and includes both a taught portion and an extensive research portion. Several universities offer enrollment in their integrated MPhil–PhD program and MPhil degree holders are usually exempted from some of the doctoral coursework requirement.


In Finland, the regular Master's degree filosofian maisteri translates to "Master of Philosophy". As in English, the term "philosophy" does not imply a specialization in theoretical philosophy. These degrees are regular master's degrees, not special "higher" degrees (cf. Licentiate and Doctor of Philosophy). In the past, filosofian maisteri signified that the degree was earned through actual studying, in contrast to honorary master's degrees that were granted upon application to bachelor's degree graduates.

Philosophy Study of general and fundamental questions

Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental questions about existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. The term was probably coined by Pythagoras. Philosophical methods include questioning, critical discussion, rational argument, and systematic presentation. Classic philosophical questions include: Is it possible to know anything and to prove it? What is most real? Philosophers also pose more practical and concrete questions such as: Is there a best way to live? Is it better to be just or unjust? Do humans have free will?

A licentiate is a degree below that of a PhD given by universities in some countries. The term is also used for a person who holds this degree. The term derives from Latin licentia, "freedom", which is applied in the phrases licentia docendi meaning permission to teach and licentia ad practicandum signifying someone who holds a certificate of competence to practise a profession. Many countries have degrees with this title, but they may represent different educational levels.


In Malaysia, the MPhil degree is commonly offered in a number of older and more-established universities in Malaysia, including the University of Malaya, Multimedia University (MMU), Wawasan Open University, University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (UNMC), Monash University Sunway Campus (MUSC) and Curtin Malaysia Campus. In most cases, the MPhil is largely a research degree, with only a minor taught component. On a case by case basis, candidates must pass a viva voce examination before the degree is awarded. For UNMC and MUSC, the Faculty of Engineering offers a standalone MPhil degree which will lead to the PhD.

The MPhil is normally regarded as a more prestigious master's degree than typical taught master's degrees such as the MA, MSc or MEng. Specifically for the University of Malaya, if the desired field of research does not belong to any of the specialized faculties, it is normally categorized under the MPhil supervised by the Postgraduate Institute.

In November 2012, the Malaysian Qualifications Agency issued programme standards for postgraduate studies in which MPhil is attributed to Master programme by research and mixed mode (coursework and research). [5] [ not in citation given ]


In Norway, the degree of MPhil is a Master's degree (120 ECTS credits) at a level equivalent to an MA or MSc However, unlike a standard MA or MSc, which have a thesis worth 30 ECTS,[ citation needed ] the MPhil has a research workload of up to 60 ECTS. [6] Upon completion, the MPhil graduate usually qualifies for acceptance to a PhD program. Nevertheless, the MPhil is most often taken as a standalone qualification. The MPhil is not a common degree in Norway; most universities award an MA (in humanities or social sciences) or MSc (in technical and scientific subjects) degrees. [7] [ not in citation given ]


In Pakistan, the MPhil is one of the most advanced masters degrees offered by Public and Private Universities in several different fields of study. [8] [ not in citation given ] This is usually a two years full-time program which includes teaching and research that leads to the PhD. The degree of MPhil also serves as a requirement to gain admission into a Doctoral program in Pakistan.[ citation needed ]


In Spain, the MPhil degree is equivalent to the Diploma de Estudios Avanzados , or DEA.[ according to whom? ] In order to obtain it, the student has to complete a full year of doctoral courses and training in research methods, as well as doing original research towards a thesis.

United Kingdom

In most UK universities, the MPhil is a research degree. [9] The completion of an MPhil typically requires two years of full-time (or five years or more of part-time study) and the submission of coursework and a thesis comprising a body of original research undertaken by the candidate (typically 25,000 to 50,000 words).[ citation needed ] It is common for students admitted into a PhD program at a UK university to be initially registered for the degree of MPhil, and then to transfer (or upgrade) to the PhD upon successful completion of the first (or sometimes the second) year of study: this will often involve the submission of a report or dissertation by the student, and possibly an oral examination or presentation. [9] [10]

Usage can be different at the ancient universities. The MPhil at Oxford and Cambridge can be either a taught degree or a research degree, and may take one or two years, depending on the course. Cambridge University offers one- and two-year-long MPhil degree programs across all of its departments and faculties. [11] This takes the place of the MA at other universities, as the Oxbridge MA is awarded to BA graduates after a certain period without any further study. At Oxford University, the MPhil is usually a two-year master's degree, although some programs are one-year. [12] The MPhil requires a lengthy thesis and more examinations than a one-year master's degree (such as the MSc or MSt). The ancient Scottish universities, who for historical reasons award the Scottish MA upon completion of four-year first degree programs in arts and humanities subjects, differ in their use of MPhil or MLitt for postgraduate research degrees, but are slowly standardizing to the MPhil as a research degree and the MLitt as a taught degree.[ citation needed ]

United States

Although most American universities do not award the MPhil, a few award it under certain circumstances. At some of those institutions (including Yale University, Columbia University, George Washington University, and the CUNY Graduate Center) the degree is awarded to PhD candidates when they complete their required coursework and qualifying examinations prior to the completion and defense of a doctoral dissertation. [13] [14] [15] [16] This formalizes the more colloquial "All But Dissertation" status; as such, defense of a dissertation proposal is sometimes required for conferral. Other colleges and universities, such as the University of Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania, [17] [18] offer a standalone MPhil as an advanced graduate degree in various fields.

See also

Related Research Articles

Postgraduate education, or graduate education in North America, involves learning and studying for academic or professional degrees, academic or professional certificates, academic or professional diplomas, or other qualifications for which a first or bachelor's degree generally is required, and it is normally considered to be part of higher education. In North America, this level is typically referred to as graduate school.

A master's degree is an academic degree awarded by universities or colleges upon completion of a course of study demonstrating mastery or a high-order overview of a specific field of study or area of professional practice. A master's degree normally requires previous study at the bachelor's level, either as a separate degree or as part of an integrated course. Within the area studied, master's graduates are expected to possess advanced knowledge of a specialized body of theoretical and applied topics; high order skills in analysis, critical evaluation, or professional application; and the ability to solve complex problems and think rigorously and independently.

Doctorate academic or professional degree

A doctorate or doctor's degree or doctoral degree, is an academic degree awarded by universities, derived from the ancient formalism licentia docendi. In most countries, it is a research degree that qualifies the holder to teach at university level in the degree's field, or to work in a specific profession. There are a variety of names for doctoral degrees; the most common is the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), which is awarded in many different fields, ranging from the humanities to scientific disciplines.

Thesis document submitted in support of candidature for an academic degree

A thesis or dissertation is a document submitted in support of candidature for an academic degree or professional qualification presenting the author's research and findings. In some contexts, the word "thesis" or a cognate is used for part of a bachelor's or master's course, while "dissertation" is normally applied to a doctorate, while in other contexts, the reverse is true. The term graduate thesis is sometimes used to refer to both master's theses and doctoral dissertations.

Graduate school school that awards advanced academic degrees (i.e. masters and doctoral degrees) with the general requirement that students must have earned a previous undergraduate (bachelors) degree

A graduate school is a school that awards advanced academic degrees with the general requirement that students must have earned a previous undergraduate (bachelor's) degree with a high grade point average. A distinction is typically made between graduate schools and professional schools, which offer specialized advanced degrees in professional fields such as medicine, nursing, business, engineering, speech-language pathology, or law. The distinction between graduate schools and professional schools is not absolute, as various professional schools offer graduate degrees and vice versa.

Degree abbreviations are used as an alternative way to specify an academic degree instead of spelling out the title in full, such as in reference books such as Who's Who and on business cards. Many degree titles have more than one possible abbreviation, with the abbreviation used varying between different universities. In the UK it is normal not to punctuate abbreviations for degrees with full stops, although this is done at some universities.

Doctor of Medicine is a medical degree, the meaning of which varies between different jurisdictions. In the United States, Canada and some other countries, the MD denotes a professional graduate degree awarded upon graduation from medical school. In the United Kingdom, Ireland and other countries, the MD is a research doctorate, higher doctorate, honorary doctorate or applied clinical degree restricted to those who already hold a professional degree in medicine; in those countries, the equivalent professional degree is typically titled Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS).

A Master of Laws is a postgraduate academic degree, pursued by those either holding an undergraduate academic law degree, a professional law degree, or an undergraduate degree in a related subject. In some jurisdictions the "Master of Laws" is the basic professional degree for admission into legal practice.

A Master of Engineering is either an academic or professional master's degree in the field of engineering.

A Master of Advanced Studies or Master of Advanced Study is a postgraduate degree awarded in various countries. Master of Advanced Studies programs may be non-consecutive programs tailored for "specific groups of working professionals with well-defined needs for advanced degree work" or advanced research degrees. With the exception of the UK, advanced studies programs tend to be interdisciplinary and tend to be focused toward meeting the needs of professionals rather than academics.

In Western universities, a Bachelor of Divinity or Baccalaureate in Divinity is an undergraduate or postgraduate academic degree awarded for a course taken in the study of divinity or related disciplines, such as theology or, rarely, religious studies. In most modern universities, the BD as a first degree is essentially equivalent to a Bachelor of Arts degree with a speciality in divinity. Relatively few institutions award undergraduate Bachelor of Divinity degrees today, and the distinction between institutions that do award such degrees and those that award BA degrees for theological subjects is usually one of bureaucracy rather than curriculum.

The Master of Letters degree is a postgraduate degree.

A Master of Research degree is an internationally recognised advanced postgraduate research degree. In most cases, the degree is designed to prepare students for doctoral research. Increasingly, the degree may be useful for students considering careers outside of academia, where high-level research skills are valued but a doctoral qualification is not required.

Mattersey Hall

Mattersey Hall is a Christian College with the vision: 'to help form the next generation of Christian leaders.' Mattersey Hall is the main training centre for the Assemblies of God in Great Britain, located in Mattersey, near Retford, in Nottinghamshire, England. It is also the home of the National Ministry Centre of British Assemblies of God.

The Bologna process for standardisation of European higher education specified an undergraduate degree of at least three years called the "licence" or bachelor's degree, followed by a two-year diploma called the master's degree, then a doctorate, meant to be obtained in at least three years. Because of these indicated schedules, the reform is sometimes (erroneously) referred to as "3-5-8". The system applies to the European Higher Education Area.

Doctor of Philosophy Postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities in many countries

A Doctor of Philosophy is the highest university degree that is conferred after a course of study by universities in most English-speaking countries. PhDs are awarded for programs across the whole breadth of academic fields. As an earned research degree, those studying for a PhD are usually required to produce original research that expands the boundaries of knowledge, normally in the form of a thesis or dissertation, and defend their work against experts in the field. The completion of a PhD is often a requirement for employment as a university professor, researcher, or scientist in many fields. Individuals who have earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree may, in many jurisdictions, use the title Doctor or, in non-English-speaking countries, variants such as "Dr. phil." with their name, although the proper etiquette associated with this usage may also be subject to the professional ethics of their own scholarly field, culture, or society. Those who teach at universities or work in academic, educational, or research fields are usually addressed by this title "professionally and socially in a salutation or conversation." Alternatively, holders may use post-nominal letters such as "Ph.D.", "PhD", or "DPhil". It is, however, considered incorrect to use both the title and post-nominals at the same time.

In the United States, the PhD degree is the highest academic degree awarded by universities in most fields of study. American students typically undergo a series of three phases in the course of their work toward the PhD degree. The first phase consists of coursework in the student's field of study and requires one to three years to complete. This often is followed by a preliminary, a comprehensive examination, or a series of cumulative examinations where the emphasis is on breadth rather than depth of knowledge. The student is often later required to pass oral and written examinations in the field of specialization within the discipline, and here, depth is emphasized. After the comprehensive examination the student is a "PhD Candidate", which is the academic equivalent of a master's degree. Some PhD programs require the candidate to successfully complete requirements in pedagogy or applied science.


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