The M.Phil. Degree

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Asymptote, Jun 2, 2020.

  1. Asymptote

    Asymptote Active Member

    So what’s the deal with the M.Phil. degree?

    Is it just something that some schools offer for their “ABD” doctoral candidates on their way to the Ph.D?

    Does anyone pursue an M.Phil. with no intention of going for the doctorate?

    Is it something that is more or less popular in particular academic fields?

    I’m curious about this type of degree because it seems like it is more than an M.A. or M.S. but less than the Ph.D., and I am not sure why it is not as popular as it could otherwise be.
  2. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Different wherever you go, I guess. More common in countries outside N. America. Country-by-country explanations here:
    I'm not qualified to comment on the accuracy, but it sounds reasonable and researched to me. In reading on-and-off about the UK use of the M. Phil. I've seen accounts of people who signed up for an M. Phil. and others who were awarded it as a sort of consolation prize after withdrawing from a Ph.D. program at a certain stage - possibly ABD.

    You might want to enter M. Phil. in the DI search gadget. I'm sure there are other threads.
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2020
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  3. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Here in Canada, an M. Phil. usually cuts a year's time from subsequent Ph.D. studies.

    Oh - and I checked the search-thing here at DI. I was surprised - very little. More on Dr. Phil (McGraw) than on M. Phil. degrees.
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2020
  4. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    I did some looking up a few years ago and I think there might be an old thread on the topic. The M.Phil. is, or I suppose was, a consolation degree for failing to complete the Ph.D. The thinking was that giving the ABD the usual M.A. wasn't an accurate reflection of the student's work. It's sort of a "higher master's". For some reason it seems to me that the University of Utah did this in some of its science departments. Not many U.S. schools did this.
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  5. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    In the UK, the MPhil has two main functions, both related.

    First, bachelor's-level graduates are often admitted to the MPhi before the PhD. Then, after a year or so of successful research and progress, the student's admission is "upgraded" to the PhD. If not....

    Unsuccessful candidates for the PhD can be graduated with a lower award, often the MPhil. (Most with thesis problems are given an opportunity to fix them; the lower award is selected when the committee believes the student will not be successful in producing an acceptable thesis.) Also, if a student admitted to the MPhil instead of the PhD can be awarded that degree if he/she is unsuccessful in upgrading to the PhD program.
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    TEKMAN Semper Fi!

    I always thought a Master of Philosophy is a researched base Master in the commonwealth nations comparable to a Master's degree with a thesis in the United States. The MSc in the Commonwealth nations is comparable to a Master's degree with a capstone or without a thesis in the United States.
  7. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    I think so, too. In fact I'm sure, because it was the first thing I ever read on the subject. However, when I checked "Searchy" today, pretty much all I got was this thread and the (other) bald guy - Oprah's buddy, "Let's do this!" Dr. Phil McGraw - think Jerry Springer show, run by a Ph.D. - the TV shrink.

    And yes - it definitely appears to be regarded as a "higher master's." What nosborne48, Rich and TEKMAN said....
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  8. JoshD

    JoshD Well-Known Member

    I have seen several PhD holding professors with M.Phil degrees in their field of study. I never had really given much thought to it.
  9. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    TEKMAN differentiated between M.Sc. degrees with/without theses. I checked and both types of M.Sc. are awarded in Commonwealth countries. Possibly some Commonwealth M. Phil. degrees might equate to a M.Sc. with thesis in the eyes of a U.S. evaluator, I'm not sure - but on its own turf it's definitely a "Higher Master's," ranked above an M.Sc. of either stripe - i.e. above the M.Sc. degrees from the same school, at the very least.
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2020
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  10. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    I wonder if they were, perhaps, intermediate awards along the way to the PhD?
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  11. JoshD

    JoshD Well-Known Member

    Possibly! Let me see if I can find them. I honestly did not think much about it.
  12. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Re: the above. This article outlines the three types of Master's offered in UK.

    (1) Taught master's - no thesis
    (2) Integrated Master's - taught as the 4th year. Bachelor's at end of third - Master's a year later. No thesis.
    (3) Research Master's - always a thesis.

    Yes - at least in UK, and presumably the Commonwealth the M. Phil is definitely a separate thing entirely - a "higher master's" definitely. That's not to say you won't find occasional variances in mileage in the US, I suppose.
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  13. JoshD

    JoshD Well-Known Member

  14. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    That quite often happens, it seems. Particularly in North America, there are programs designed this way. Successful completion of the M. Phil. is designed to guarantee acceptance into a Ph.D. program, normally with advanced standing - at least a year, possibly more. I suppose it's a way of ensuring a doctoral candidate likely has what it takes to succeed.
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  15. JoshD

    JoshD Well-Known Member

  16. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    The M.Phil. is popular in the UK and Commonwealth nations. I wouldn't chalk it to to an ABD equivalent because the M.Phil. typically requires a thesis. It is often offered as a standalone degree and not always tied to a Ph.D.

    The UWI Open Campus offers an M.Phil. and Ph.D. in Child Adolescent and Youth Studies.

    MPhil programme students must earn 16 credits from taught courses which comprise four (4) compulsory courses and one (1) elective; participate in two (2) research seminars; and complete a thesis.

    For the PhD, students must successfully earn 19 credits from taught courses which comprise four (4) compulsory courses and two (2) electives; participate in three (3) research seminars; and complete a thesis.
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  17. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Impressive. That degree (M. Phil.) would indeed be a major accomplishment. The M. Phil requires only 3 less credits, one less elective and one less research seminar than does the Ph.D. Both require a thesis.
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2020
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  18. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Without looking, I suspect the MPhil thesis and the PhD thesis are two different animals, and not just in the size and scope of the research.
  19. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    Indeed. This program has been around since 2018 and I learned about it last year. I wish I had known about it earlier since my goal is to transition back to juvenile justice. Sadly, it is not offered every year or I would have stopped-out at Liberty when I found out. I would also prefer to be associated with UWI (I am from the Caribbean) than Liberty.

    You're right. The Ph.D. thesis is not to exceed 80, 000 words while the MPhil caps at 50, 000 words.
  20. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    Indeed. This is how things work in the West Indies also, their having inherited the UK system.

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