Postgraduate Certificate / Postgraduate Diploma (PGCert / PGDip)
A Postgraduate Certificate or Diploma is a lesser qualification than a full Masters degree, but can be useful if you don’t want to commit to a full year’s study or have a very specific interest in a small number of modules on a course. They are also proportionally cheaper than a full Masters degree.
Criteria for postgraduate certificates and diplomas will vary from course to course. In general a Postgraduate Diploma will have the same taught module requirements as the Masters qualification, but will omit the research project. A Postgraduate Certificate will also omit the research project and will require that you take fewer modules than the Diploma.
Full time and part time options are available for most PGCert / PGDip courses.
MA / MSc
Most MA or MSc courses include a significant taught element and end in a research project and accompanying dissertation lasting 2-6 months. There are a bewildering array of names for masters degrees and what your degree is called may depend as much on the institution you attend as on the content of the course. As well as the more familiar MA (Master of Arts), MSc (Master of Science) and MEng (Master of Engineering) degrees you will also come across more subject specific titles such as MArch (Master of Architecture), MEd (Master of Education), MMus (Master of Music), MTh (Master of Theology), etc. You should not pay too much attention to these titles, but focus on the content of the course itself. A number of course names do have more specific meanings and these are described separately below.
The MRes or Master of Research degree is designed, as the name suggests, to provide training in how to become a researcher. It will contain a larger research element than most MA or MSc programmes, but will usually still contain a significant taught element. An MRes may give you an advantage if you want to pursue a PhD or enter a career in research. Before choosing an MRes over an MSc or MA you should check the course content. A course that would be referred to as an MRes in one university, may be called an MSc in another. Having said that, the MRes is becoming a more popular name and makes it much easier for students to identify research based courses.
Click here to search for MRes programmes
An MPhil is a research-only Masters Degree and is usually a precursor to a PhD. Indeed many PhD students are registered for the degree of MPhil in their first 12-18 months of study and have to produce a transfer report at the end of this period in order to change their registration to that of PhD student. As well as helping universities keep their PhD drop-out rates low, this also helps students who run out of funding or discover that a PhD is not for them find an early escape route. The MPhil will be recognised by potential employers as equivalent to any other Masters degree.
For more information on the MPhil visit FindAPhD.com
The LLM is a Master of Laws. It is usually a one year full time programme or a 2-4 year part time course. You do not necessarily need a professional law degree (LLB in the UK or JD in the USA) in order to be admitted to an LLM programme and an LLM itself will not qualify you to practice law. Whilst professional Law degrees give a general overview of all the basic skills needed to become a lawyer, an LLM will give you the chance to specialise.
Click here to search for LLM programmes
Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees are aimed at management professionals with a number of years of experience. Intensive, expensive and demanding, they are designed to create the successful business leaders of the future. You can get more details of what’s involved in an MBA on FindAnMBA.com.
Visit www.FindAnMBA.com to search for MBA Programmes
A Professional Doctorate is considered equivalent to a PhD (those successfully completing a Professional Doctorate are entitled to call themselves ‘Dr’). Whereas a PhD is a training in academic research, a Professional Doctorate is a way for experienced professionals, (most studying part-time) to carry out research relating to their real world professional practice. There are, of course, exceptions - most notably the Engineering Doctorate (EngD) which, in most cases, is only offered as a full time course and tends to be aimed at recent graduates. Unlike most PhDs, Professional Doctorates contain a large taught element running throughout the course.
Professional Doctorates are most commonly available for professionals in fields such as Education (EdD), Clinical Psychology (DClinPsy), Business (DBA), Medicine (MD), Nursing & Healthcare (PrDHealth), Social Work (DSW) and Engineering (EngD).
You can find current Professional Doctorates on www.ProfessionalDoctorates.com. Many EngD studentships are more likely to be found on www.FindAPhD.com. Further details on the nature of Professional Doctorates can be found here.
A PhD is often the next step after a Masters degree and is traditionally seen as the highest qualification a student can achieve. Unlike most Masters courses, a PhD contains little or no taught element and is based on the student carrying out original research. Historically a PhD was a licence to teach in a university. Whilst most university lecturers and professors are still required to have a PhD, the degree has much wider applications in industry, commerce and the public sector.
PhDs are not listed on FindAMasters; you can find current PhD opportunities on www.FindAPhD.com. The FindAPhD Study Guide also contains much more information on becoming and being a PhD student.