Master of Philosophy

The Master of Philosophy (M.Phil. or MPhil, sometimes Ph.M.) is an advanced postgraduate research degree. The prerequisites required for a Master of Philosophy degree make it the most advanced research degree before the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D. or D.Phil.).[1] An M.Phil. is in most cases thesis-only, and is regarded as a senior or second master's degree, standing between a taught Master's and a Ph.D.[2] An M.Phil. may be awarded to graduate students after completing several years of original research, but before the defence of a dissertation, and can serve as a provisional enrollment for a Ph.D.


The Master of Philosophy is offered by many universities in Australia, and it is often the only option to undertake a master's degree in select schools. In Australia, the Masters of Philosophy is a research degree which mirrors a Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) in breadth of research and structure. The candidates are assessed solely on the basis of a thesis. A standard full-time degree often takes two years to complete.[3][4] The Australian National University, University of Sydney, Curtin University, Griffith University and Melbourne University are also examples of Australian universities offering Masters of Philosophy.[5][6][7][8][9][10]

Belgium and Netherlands

In Belgium and the Netherlands, the M.Phil. 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 enroll in a Ph.D. programme. The Dutch Department of Education, Culture and Science has decided not to recognize the MPhil degree. Accordingly, some Dutch universities have decided to continue to grant the MPhil degree, but also offer a legally-recognized degree, such as MA or MSc to those who receive the MPhil degree.[11][12]


Very few Canadian universities offer M.Phil. degrees. Among their number, however, is Memorial University of Newfoundland's interdisciplinary two-year M.Phil. in Humanities.


Very few Indian universities offer M.Phil. degrees. For those that do, it is typically two years long.


In Finland, the regular (first) Master's degree filosofian maisteri translates to "Master of Philosophy". However, the term "philosophy" is to be understood to the maximum extent, because this is the name of the basic master's degree in all natural sciences and humanities. It does not imply a specialization in theoretical philosophy or even other than introductory studies. In fact, most of the students majoring in philosophy get a degree with a different name (Master of Sociology or Politics). 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 could be granted by application to Bachelors.


In Malaysia, the M.Phil. degree is not common. There are only a handful of universities in Malaysia that offer M.Phil. program, such as Universiti Malaya, Wawasan Open University, University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (UNMC) and Monash University Sunway Campus (MUSC). In most cases, the M.Phil. is a pure research degree. 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 offer a standalone M.Phil. degree which will lead to the Ph.D. The M.Phil is normally regarded as a more prestigious master's degree than typical taught master's degree such as M.Sc. or M.Eng.. In the case of University Malaya, if the desired field of research does not belong to any of the specialized faculties, it is normally categorized under the M.Phil. supervised by the Postgraduate Institute. In November 2012, Malaysian Qualifications Agency has issued programme standards for postgraduate studies in which MPhil is attributed to Master programme by research and mixed mode (coursework and research).[13]


In Norway, the degree of MPhil is a 'standard' Master's degree (120 ECTS credits) at a level equivalent to an MA or MSc. Upon completion, the MPhil graduate usually qualifies for acceptance to a PhD program. However, the M.Phil 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.[14]


In Pakistan, the degree of MPhil is offered by Public and Private Universities in several different fields of study. [15]This is a two years full-time research based program that completes 18 years of education and leads to PhD. The degree of MPhil is also a requirement to get admission into a Doctoral program in Pakistan.


In Spain, the M.Phil degree is equivalent to the Diploma de Estudios Avanzados, or DEA. In order to obtain it, the student has to complete a full year of doctoral courses, plus do original research.

United Kingdom

In most UK universities, completion of a M.Phil. typically requires two years of full-time or five years or more of part-time study (being five or eight years from initially entering university) and the submission of a thesis comprising a body of original research undertaken by the candidate. It is common for students admitted into a Ph.D. program at a UK university to be initially registered for the degree of M.Phil., and then to transfer (or upgrade) to the Ph.D. upon successful completion of the first (or sometimes the second) year of study: this will often involve the submission of a short report or dissertation by the student, and possibly an oral examination or presentation. In addition, most universities allow examiners to recommend award of a M.Phil. if a Ph.D. candidate's thesis is deemed not to be of the requisite length or standard for a doctorate.[16] However, many students register for a M.Phil. with no intention of upgrading to a Ph.D. Others are not able to do a Ph.D. because their research does not have sufficient scope for a Ph.D. or because they are seeking a shorter program.

At a few UK universities, a M.Phil. research degree can be awarded after only one year of study and is viewed as being equivalent to a taught M.A. or M.Sc. degree. However, in some institutions, such as University College London and the University of Aberdeen, a clear set of requirements must be met for the award of a M.Phil, under which candidates are required to submit and defend a thesis against external and internal examiners, a process which may in itself take up to a year, and, as such, the award may be regarded as a mini-PhD. For example, the degree of Master of Philosophy of the University of Aberdeen requires the submission of a thesis of up to 70,000 words plus a viva voce examination; this is a considerably larger piece of work than is required for the same qualification at other institutions.[17] At the University of Manchester, the candidate may also be required by the examiners to undergo a written or other examination. Each candidate is examined by two or more examiners of whom at least one shall be an external examiner.[18]

Cambridge University offers the M.Phil. as a one-year master's degree program.[19] This is to distinguish it from the Oxbridge M.A. degree, to which B.A. graduates usually proceed after a certain period of time without any further study (a procedure which has been followed at the universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Dublin since the seventeenth century). The Cambridge M.Phil. can be either a taught degree or a research-based degree, depending on the course. At Oxford University, the M.Phil. is usually a two-year master's degree, although some programs are one-year.[20] The M.Phil. requires a lengthy thesis and more examinations than a one-year master's degree (such as M.Sc., M.St.). The ancient Scottish universities, who for historical reasons award the Scottish M.A. degree upon completion of four-year first degree programs in arts and humanities subjects, differ in their use of M.Phil. or M.Litt. for postgraduate research degrees, but are slowly standardizing to the M.Phil. as a research degree and the M.Litt. as a taught degree.

United States

Although most American universities do not award the M.Phil., a few award it under certain circumstances. Some New York State universities award the M.Phil to All But Dissertation Ph.D. candidates who have decided to withdraw from the Ph.D. This enables the candidate to have a better chance of seeking employment. At those institutions (most notably Yale University, Columbia University, Pardee RAND Graduate School, GWU and more recently the CUNY Graduate Center), the degree is awarded to Ph.D. candidates when they complete their required coursework, qualifying examinations, defend their prospectus, but prior to the completion and defense of a doctoral dissertation. This recognizes achievement beyond the Master of Arts and Master of Science degrees conferred after 1–3 years of graduate study and formalizes the more colloquial "All But Dissertation" status; as such, defense of a dissertation proposal is sometimes required for conferral.

Many Ph.D. candidates at these universities view the M.Phil. as a formality and elect not to receive it in order to avoid the paperwork and costs involved. However, some programs do not offer an en route M.A. or M.S., so the M.Phil. is the first opportunity to receive a degree between the bachelor's and Ph.D; others may elect not to take the nominally lower M.A. or M.S. degree in favor of the M.Phil. or the Ph.D itself. Some colleges and universities, such as the College of the Atlantic, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Utah, offer a standalone M.Phil. degree in various fields. There are also a number of colleges and universities, such as Georgia State University, Texas Tech University, Tufts University, and Oklahoma State University[21] that have terminal M.A. programs.

See also


  1. "Courses at Curtin". Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  2. "Minimum Entry Requirements". The University of Sydney Business School. Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  3. UWA.
  5. Australian National University.
  6. UNSW,
  7. Curtin University,
  8. Griffith University,
  9. Melbourne University,
  10. Newcastle University
  11. De MPhil graad wordt niet meer verleend, Leiden University. Archived July 26, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  12. Veelgestelde vragen Welke titel mag ik voeren? Dutch-Flemish Accreditation Organization.
  13. "404". Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  19. "Qualifications". Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  21. Mark Morgan. "Home". Retrieved 20 January 2016.
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