Columbia awards the M.Phil. on the way to the Ph.D. Like everything else, it works differently in different places. I have seen school programs where you get a Masters degree once you complete your coursework and before you defend your dissertation, generally only if you apply for it (by this, I mean like Scranton. You can take all of hte courses you want. But you don't automatically graduate. You fill out a form to apply for graduation from a program on the basis of completing the requirements). For others, you don't get the Masters unless you leave the program without the PhD. Outside of the U.S., there are nuanced meanings to all of these things. An M.Phil differs from an M.A. which differs from a Master of Studies etc. In the U.S., there are four levels; Associates, Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate. That's all the government cares about and, for the most part, all accreditors seem to see as well. At the first CC where I taught the convention was an A.S./A.A. was designed to transfer to a four year school where we had articulation agreements. An A.A.S. was designed so you could go out and get a job. They were still academic credits and could be transferred, but the curriculum was not aligned with an outside four year program. to the rest of the country, none of this mattered, they were all just associates degrees. The CC where I most recently taught does not make this distinction and their articulation agreements include A.A.S. -> Bachelors programs. All DoE sees is a Masters degree. Coursework only, thesis, comprehensive exams, no exams, field study, clinical externship, it doesn't matter. It's a Masters. It might matter for a license. It might matter for a specific industry. It might matter for the program you want to apply to to continue your studies. But in the U.S., generally speaking, a Masters is a Masters. The result is that NYU can offer an LLM in Taxation while another law school treats the LLM as nothing more than a bridge degree to allow a foreign attorney to practice in the U.S. Same degree. One reflects advanced studies. One seeks to remedy a deficiency in previous study. We don't do nuance so well in this country. We are keen to borrow stuff from other traditions but we don't actually ensure it makes sense in our context. As much as I'm no fan of the JD (in particular, it's history), it's true that it made no sense in the U.S. In the UK where the doctor and the dentist also had bachelors degrees, it made sense. Here, the lawyer and the pharmacist kind of got screwed by receiving a second bachelors while their cousin the optometrist got to be a doctor for a comparable amount of study. So you can look at how the UK and other commonwealth countries do it. And that's good info to have. But don't be shocked if you see it not being applied that way in the U.S.