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.


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[edit]

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]

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]


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.


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][failed verification]


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][failed verification]


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][failed verification] 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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-02-18. Retrieved 2014-01-22. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-02-01. Retrieved 2014-01-22. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ De MPhil graad wordt niet meer verleend, Leiden University. Archived July 26, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "Master of Philosophy Program". Queens University. Queens University Canada. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  5. ^ "404". Archived from the original on 6 July 2012. Retrieved 20 January 2016. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  6. ^ Fossen, Christian. "Programme components – Master of Philosophy in English Linguistics and Language Acquisition". Archived from the original on 28 April 2018. Retrieved 28 April 2018. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  7. ^ Archived 2010-01-10 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-11-09. Retrieved 2016-11-05. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ a b Master's Degree Characteristics Statement (PDF) (Report). Quality Assurance Agency. September 2015. p. 12.
  10. ^ University, The Open. "MPhil - Research Degrees - Open University". Archived from the original on 28 September 2017. Retrieved 28 April 2018. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  11. ^ "Qualifications". Archived from the original on 28 January 2012. Retrieved 20 January 2016. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-02-05. Retrieved 2009-05-13. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ "Master of Philosophy". Columbia University. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  14. ^ "Doctor of Philosophy program". Yale School of Architecture. Master's Degree. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  15. ^ "PhD Requirements". Department of Economics, Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, George Washington University. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  16. ^ "Mphil Application". Retrieved 2019-03-21.
  17. ^ "Department of Philosophy - U-M LSA Philosophy". Archived from the original on 1 April 2018. Retrieved 28 April 2018. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  18. ^ "Master of Philosophy in Liberal Arts". University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved 4 April 2019.