MPhil vs MSc – Differences Explained

Published 16 October, 2023


There are a number of similarities and differences between MPhil programmes and MSc programmes. Both types of programmes are postgraduate degrees that can be completed in two years, and both lead to further study at doctoral level. However, there are some key differences between the two programmes.

MPhil programmes tend to be more research-focused than MSc programmes, and students on MPhil programmes are typically expected to produce a piece of original research. MSc programmes, on the other hand, tend to be more course-based, and students may have the opportunity to complete a placement as part of their studies.


There are many different types of postgraduate degrees available, and it can be confusing to know which one is right for you. Here, we explain the difference between two popular types of master’s degrees – the MPhil (Master of Philosophy) and the MSc (Master of Science). A master’s degree is an academic qualification that shows you have advanced knowledge and skills in your chosen subject area.

What is an MPhil?

MPhil is a short form of the Latin phrase ‘Magister Philosophiae’, which means ‘Master of Philosophy’. An MPhil is a research master’s degree that typically takes one or two years to complete. During your studies, you’ll undertake an in-depth research project that makes a significant contribution to your chosen field. You’ll usually need to write and submit a dissertation as part of your MPhil.

An MPhil can be undertaken as either:

  • Standalone degree– you’ll complete your research project and dissertation but won’t take any taught modules
  • A precursor to a PhD programme- In certain circumstances, a university enrols a PhD student into an MPhil program as a preliminary step toward determining whether their research abilities are adequate for completing a PhD.

What Is an MSc?

An MSc is a type of postgraduate degree which is awarded to students who have completed an undergraduate degree in a related field of study.

Typically, to be eligible for an MSc, you will need to have completed an undergraduate degree in a science-related subject. However, there are some institutions that offer MSc degrees in other fields of study such as business or humanities.

MSc degrees typically last for one year full-time or two years part-time. They usually involve completing a research project or dissertation in addition to coursework.

MSc degrees are offered in a wide range of subjects, including:

  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Computer Science
  • Geography
  • Psychology

Major Difference Between MPhil & MSc



It stands for Masters of Philosophy It stands for Master of Science
It is a research-oriented degree  It is a course-based degree 
It is shorter in duration as compared to MSc It might be of one or two years  
Assessed through thesis & viva voce Assessed through exams & coursework
It is a prerequisite for PhD  It might not be a prerequisite for PhD   
All subjects available STEM & business subjects
It is more research-focused It is less research-focused         

What are the job opportunities in MPhil?

There are a number of job opportunities available for those with an MPhil degree. Here are just a few examples: 

  • Academic researcher 
  • Policy analyst 
  • Data analyst 
  • Research consultant 
  • Letting officer 
  • Intelligence analyst 

Job roles will vary depending on the field of study undertaken during the Mphil degree. For example, an agricultural economist may work as a farm manager, while someone with an Mphil in criminology might work as a detective or probation officer. Given the advanced nature of a Mphil, most holders will find employment in specialized areas or management positions.

What are the job opportunities in MSc?

Graduating with an MSc can open up a wide range of career opportunities. Here are some examples of positions that would be appropriate for someone with an MSc:

  • Research scientist
  • Laboratory technician
  • University lecturer or professor
  • Medical researcher
  • Pharmaceutical company research and development director
  • Biotech start-up founder 

These are just a few examples – the possibilities are practically endless! So if you’re thinking about pursuing an MSc, know that there are plenty of options out there for you.           

MPhil v/s MSc: Which one is better?

Choosing between an MPhil and an MSc depends on your individual circumstances, career goals, and interests. If you’re looking to pursue a career in academia or research, then an MPhil could be the right choice for you. However, if you’re looking for a more general postgraduate degree that will provide you with advanced knowledge and skills in your chosen subject area, then an MSc could be a better option.

It is worth noting that some institutions only offer MSc degrees, so if you’re interested in studying for an MPhil, you’ll need to check whether the institution you want to apply to offers this type of degree.

At the end of the day, the decision of whether to study for an MPhil or an MSc depends on your individual circumstances and career aspirations. If you’re unsure which type of degree is right for you, it’s always worth speaking to a careers advisor or someone with experience in the field you’re interested in.


Mphil and MSc are two types of postgraduate degrees that vary in terms of their focus, duration, and coursework requirements. Mphil degrees are typically shorter in duration and more research-focused, while MSc degrees may involve coursework and last for one or two years. Ultimately, the decision of which type of degree to pursue depends on your individual circumstances and career aspirations.

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