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Postgraduate

POSTGRADUATE

POSTGRADUATE EDUCATION IN THE UK

Entry to the first level of postgraduate education in the UK is by having completed a UK   Bachelor’s degree with Honours (Level 6) or the overseas equivalent. For those with qualifications a step lower, there are Graduate Diplomas and Pre-Master’s courses which give access. Length may depend on the student’s level of English at the start, with EFL built into the course modules. A full-time Master’s degree is usually 12 months and after that a student may progress to a doctoral degree which is three or four years full time. Many universities now offer a 6-12 month paid work placement as part of the taught Master’s in a range of subjects.

Types of schools

Colleges of Further and Higher Education

Many state Colleges of Further and Higher Education offer Pre-Master’s courses in a wide variety of academic subjects and some offer taught Master’s, usually in vocational subjects such as Hospitality Management or in Business.  Colleges have an excellent reputation for teaching but library and other resources for postgraduate students are generally not as broad as at a university. Fees are generally more affordable than those of universities. Colleges will have partnerships with local universities that may guarantee entry to their students who pass the Pre-Master’s course. Otherwise, assistance will be given to apply to other universities.

 

Independent Colleges

These focus on boosting students’ English and academic skills in order to help them apply to and enter postgraduate programmes at top UK universities. Teaching is in small groups and there are more taught hours than at a state College. Fees are high, but these colleges have a wide range of partnerships with universities which guarantee access to Master’s programmes once the student passes the course.

 

On-Campus Pathway Centres

These are partnerships between universities and private programme providers. They offer English language and pathway programmes (Pre-Master’s and Graduate Diploma) for international students on the campus of a university. Students who can pass the course with the required grade are usually guaranteed a place at that university. Students are treated as full members of the university and are able  to use all the resources of the university – libraries, accommodation, sports and leisure facilities etc. Students are expected to enrol on a Master’s course at the university they are studying at, or, if they do not meet the entry requirements, the provider will help them to find an alternative university place.

 

Universities

All universities offer a wide range of postgraduate programmes and most have excellent research facilities. To choose a university for a Master’s or PhD it is important to look at the subject research rankings rather than the overall university ranking. There is less teaching time on a taught Master’s than on a Bachelor’s degree, for example, and students are expected to spend a greater amount of time on self-study to complete their assignments and dissertations.

Programmes

Pre-Master’s/Graduate Diploma courses

These may last anywhere from 1 to 3 terms (or 2 semesters) depending on the level of English of the student on entry. They are suitable for students who fall short of the academic requirements to enter a UK Master’s course. The courses consist of a blend of English language and study skills, together with modules from the final year of the Honours degree corresponding to their subject. Course content and entry requirements vary, so it is worth first choosing the Master’s you would like to study, then seeing which Pre-Master’s courses link to it and fit with your qualifications. Progression may be guaranteed if the institution has an agreement with the course provider, or the course provider may help you to apply to the university of your choice.

 

Master’s degrees

These are typically one year in length, and can be taught – MA, MSc, MBA, MEd – or by research – MPhil – which is usually the first year of a PhD for students wanting to carry out their own research. There is a useful crossover degree, the MRes, which is mainly taught but focuses on teaching students how to do research so that they can apply for a PhD later. More and more universities are now offering a period of paid work in conjunction with a taught Master’s in order to help students progress in the workplace on completion of their degree. Most courses do not require work experience before embarking on a Master’s, but in some areas this is a necessary prerequisite. These are some examples:

  • Executive MBA – typically asks for 3-5 year’s postgraduate full-time work experience and some middle management experience.
  • Non-executive MBAs may still ask for up to 3 years’ postgraduate work experience.
  • MEd – the applicant is expected to be an education professional with experience of working in some area of education, such as teaching or administration.
  • MA TESOL – usually requires a minimum of 1-2 years’ full-time relevant teaching experience after completing an English teaching qualification (PGCE, Graduate Diploma, Dip. TESOL etc).

A Master’s in medical subjects usually requires the applicant to be a fully qualified medical Doctor or Health Professional seeking to improve their knowledge of a specialist area they have been working in.

 

Doctoral degrees

Most doctoral degrees are by research and take a minimum of 3 years full time, but some combine taught modules and research, for example:

  • New Route PhD – a 4-year course intended to provide an entry point to research degree by someone who has not previously had any experience of research. The first year is partly taught and focuses on teaching research skills to enable the student to focus on their research topic properly in the final 3 years. This is offered by a limited number of universities.
  • EdD – Doctor of Education – intended for education professionals who already have a Master’s in an education area and substantial work experience. It may be offered full time over 3 years at a university or part-time and/or by distance over 5 years.
  • DBA – Doctor of Business Administration – for professionals in Business who already have a Master’s (MBA, MSc or MA) in a business-related field and substantial work experience at management level. It is partly taught and partly by research and may be offered full-time over 3 years at a university or part-time and/or by distance over 5 years.
  • PhD – the standard doctoral research degree, 3 years full-time or 5 years part-time and/or by distance. Applicants need to know in advance what they wish to research and to choose a university and a supervisor who will accept their research proposal as being in line with their own interests and projects.
  • Distance programmes – many Master’s degrees are now being offered part-time by Distance although in some cases there may be a requirement to attend the university at least once or twice during the study period. Research degrees tend to require students to be present at the university for part of the time but allow students to complete their field work and thesis by distance.

Entry requirements

For entry to a Pre-Master’s or Graduate Diploma course, the minimum academic level is an Ordinary or Associate degree or Higher Diploma with a good grade (7/10). English requirements may vary according to the length of the course but are generally between IELTS 5.0 – 6.0.

 

The minimum requirement for a Master’s is a Bachelor’s Degree (Honours) or equivalent with at least a 2:2 classification (approximately 7/10). Specific requirements such as work experience or the subject of your first degree vary from course to course. Usually, you would need a Bachelor’s degree in an area related to your Master’s subject, but there are conversion courses available in some areas, for example, for non-lawyers choosing a Law-related subject or people with a non-business background wanting to study a Business-related subject. English language requirements for a Master’s degree start at IELTS 6.5 and vary according to the demands of the subject and the requirements of the university.

 

For a doctoral degree you usually need a Master’s in the subject area you wish to study and a research proposal (unless the course is partly taught). English requirements start at IELTS 6.5 but if you intend to complete a 3-year research PhD, you should be aiming for at least 7.5 IELTS in order to cope with the writing demands.

POSTGRADUATE EDUCATION IN CANADA

Postgraduate study in Canada covers four main programme levels: Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma/Pre-Masters, Masters and Doctoral programmes. Entry is from a Bachelor degree or equivalent and with a suitable level of English. Community colleges and private colleges offer a range of Graduate Certificates, but only universities offer Master’s and Doctoral programmes.

Type of schools

Community Colleges and Private Colleges

Community Colleges in Canada provide a flexible and more affordable, way of getting into universities by the credit transfer route. With fees up to 30% lower than universities, they offer Graduate Certificates in a range of subjects which are accepted by employers in the workplace, or give access to Master’s degrees at universities. Private Colleges may also offer Graduate Certificates in practical, technical or vocational areas.

 

On-Campus Pathway Centres

These are partnerships between universities and private programme providers. They offer English language and pathway programmes for international students on the campus of a university. Students who pass the course with the required number of credits are usually guaranteed a place at the university. Students are treated as full members of the university and are able to use all the resources of the university – libraries, accommodation, sports and leisure facilities etc. Students are expected to attend a Master’s programme at the university they are studying at, or, if they do not meet the entry requirements, the provider will help them to find an alternative university place. There are very few Pre-Master’s programmes available in Canada at pathway centres.

 

Universities

Canadian universities are mostly public and of uniformly high quality. They are divided into groups:

  • Universities in the Medical Doctoral category have a broad range of Ph.D. programmes and research, as well as medical schools.
  • Comprehensive Universities have a significant amount of research activity and a wide range of programmes at the undergraduate and graduate level, including professional degrees.
  • Primarily undergraduate universities are largely focused on undergraduate education, with relatively fewer graduate programmes and graduate students.

For more information on Canadian universities, go to Macleans Education Hub.

Programmes

Pre-Master’s
This is usually a short (one semester) programme at a pathway centre preparing international students for a professional Master’s degree. Entry requirements for academic and English levels will be a little lower than for direct entry to the Master’s programme.

 

Graduate Certificate

A one-year (three semesters) programme available at colleges which can be a stand-alone professional qualification or used as a qualifying route to a Master’s programme.

 

Graduate Diploma

A two-semester professional programme that can be studied concurrently with a Master’s or as a stand-alone recognised by employers. Some Diplomas may be conversion courses studied before a Master’s, enabling students from different backgrounds to prepare for a Master’s.

 

Master’s

Between one and two depending upon academic background and entry point. There are many types of Master’s – MA, MSc, MEd, MEng, MBA etc. Professional programmes will require work experience, and for Business Master’s degrees, a GMAT or GRE score is required.

 

Doctoral degrees

Unlike doctoral degrees in most other countries, a Canadian PhD is neither a pure research degree nor as structured as in the US. There are a number of credits for taught modules which must be taken before the research project goes into its final stages. The length of a PhD in Canada is 3-6 years (full time). Some programmes award professional doctorates such as the DBA (Doctor of Business Administration) and EdD (Doctor of Education). These usually include very specific practical projects and case studies in addition to academic classes and dissertation research.

 

Doctor of Medicine (MD)

This is not considered to be a graduate degree and is organised very differently from other academic degrees.

Entry requirements

Entry to a Graduate Certificate requires a college or university degree with a GPA of around 2.8/4 (7/10) and TOEFL 80 (IELTS 6.0) minimum.

 

For entry to a Graduate Diploma or Pre-Master’s, a Bachelors’s degree with a good GPA 3.0/4.0 (7.5/10) is required. English language requirements may vary according to the length of the course but are generally from TOEFL 80/IELTS 6.0 and above.

 

The minimum requirement for a Master’s is recognised Bachelor’s degree in a related subject with a GPA of at least 3.0/4.0 (7.5/10 and may vary according to subject and the candidate’s previous studies and experience. English language requirements for Master’s start at TOEFL 90 and vary according to the demands of the subject and the requirements of the university.

 

For a Doctoral degree you usually need a Master’s in the subject area you wish to study and good study and/or work references. English language requirements start at TOEFL 90/IELTS 6.5.

GRADUATE EDUCATION IN THE US

Entry to graduate study in the USA varies widely across the more than 4,000 institutions offering programmes, but the minimum requirement is having completed a Bachelor’s degree with a pass grade, and having a level of English that will allow you to participate in the programme.

Master’s degrees are usually 2 years (4 semesters) but there are Pathway programmes now available in some universities that help students shorten the time required between Associate degree and Master’s. Other pathway programmes, such as the Master’s Qualifying Programme (MQP) help international graduate students acquire the language and study skills needed before entry to a US Master’s programme. The best approach is to select your target Master’s programme and work backwards to see what additional qualifications or skills you may need in order to apply for entry.

Type of schools

On-Campus Pathway Centres

These are partnerships between universities and private programme providers. They offer English language and pathway programmes (MQP or Bachelor’s top-ups) for international students on the campus of a university. Students who can pass the course with the required number of credits are usually guaranteed a place at the university. Students are treated as full members of the university and are able to use all the resources of the university- libraries, accommodation, sports and leisure facilities etc. Students are expected to attend a Master’s at the university they are studying at, or, if they do not meet the entry requirements, the provider will help them to find an alternative university place.

 

Universities

All 4-year universities offer a wide range of graduate programmes at Master’s level and around 1,500 universities offer PhDs, with excellent research facilities. US universities offer huge flexibility in the way graduate programmes are delivered, the credit system allowing students to choose the time they take to complete, to embark on a period of Optional Practical Training (OPT), and to choose a full time on-campus or a distance /part-distance study mode.

Programmes

Graduate Certificate

A one-year programme that offers 12-15 credits that can be used towards a Master’s. The degree also stands in its own right as a graduate programme that is recognised by employers.

 

Master’s

Usually up to 45 credits spread over 2 years. Students entering with relevant, previously earned credits can shorten this time. Taught Master’s are MA (Master of Arts), MS (Master of Science), MBA (Master of Business Administration), MPS (Master of Professional Studies), MST (Master of Science in Teaching), LLM (Master of Laws).

 

Doctoral degrees

Unlike doctoral degrees in most other countries, a US PhD is almost never a pure research degree. Original research is still a key requirement for an American doctorate, and you still have to present and defend a substantial thesis. It’s just that you’ll do a lot of other things before getting there. The length of a PhD in the USA is usually 4-6 years (full-time). Students spend 1-4 years on the coursework stage of their programme and 2-4 years working on their dissertation. In the early stages students have taught classes and assessments, culminating in a comprehensive exam. It’s only after passing this stage that a student confirms their final dissertation topic and gets to work researching it. Some programmes award professional doctorates such as the DBA (Doctor of Business Administration) and EdD (Doctor of Education). These usually include very specific practical projects and case studies in addition to academic classes and dissertation research. Other types of ‘doctoral’ qualification are available to students seeking to qualify for regulated professions such as Law or Medicine. These JD (Doctor of Laws) and MD (Doctor of Medicine) degrees are organised very differently to academic doctorates and don’t normally qualify students for legal or medical practice outside the USA.

Entry requirements

For entry to a Graduate Diploma or MQP, the minimum academic level is an Associate degree or Higher Diploma with a good GPA 3.0/4.0 (7.5/10). English language requirements may vary according to the length of the course but are generally from TOEFL 70 and above.

 

The minimum requirement for a Master’s is recognised Bachelor’s degree in a related subject with a GPA of at least 2.8/4.0 (7/10) and may vary from university to university. English language requirements for Master’s start at TOEFL 90 and vary according to the demands of the subject and the requirements of the university. Business-related degrees such as MBAs also require a GMAT or GRE score.

 

For a doctoral degree you usually need a Master’s in the subject area you wish to study and good study and/or work references. English language requirements start at TOEFL 90.

POSTGRADUATE EDUCATION IN IRELAND

Entry to the first level of postgraduate education in Ireland is by having completed a Bachelors’s degree with Honours (Level 8) or the overseas equivalent. Those not quite meeting the requirements can take a one-year Honours top-up course in a range of subjects. A Master’s degree is usually 12 months and after that a student may progress to a doctoral degree which is three or four years full-time.

Type of schools

Institutes of Technology

These are university-level institutions with degree-awarding powers that offer courses more closely linked to the workplace. They all offer the option of a one-year Level 8 top-up Honours degree or a Level 8 Higher Diploma, and usually have a limited range of Master’s programmes. Institutes of Technology tend to be less expensive than Universities while still offering excellent teaching and resources, so they are a good option for international students.

 

Private Colleges

There are a number of private Colleges which also offer postgraduate degrees and diplomas in various subjects validated by The Quality & by Qualifications Ireland (QQI) which ensure national/international recognition. The largest of these is Griffith College, Dublin, which has a wide range of subjects, while the others are mostly subject-specific, especially for Business and Computer Studies, and are located in Dublin, Galway and Limerick.

 

Universities and University Colleges

All universities and university colleges offer a wide range of postgraduate programmes and most have excellent research facilities. To choose a university for a Master’s or PhD it is important to look at the subject research rankings rather than the overall university ranking. There is less teaching time on a taught Master’s than on a Bachelor’s degree, for example, and students are expected to spend a greater amount of time on self-study to complete their assignments and dissertations.

Programmes

Higher/Graduate Diploma courses

These are one-year Level 8 courses which function as preparation or conversion programmes for students who have studied other subjects at undergraduate level and want to switch to a Master’s. They may also suit students who have not yet reached Level 8 in their subject area and would like an introduction to the target subject of their Master’s degree.

 

Professional Diplomas

These are designed to extend a person’s previous study and work experience in their particular field, and are stand-alone Level 8 qualifications.

 

Master’s degrees

These are typically 12 months in length, and can be taught – MA, MSc, MBA, MEd – or by research – MLitt – which is usually the first year of a PhD for students wanting to carry out their own research. Most courses do not require work experience before embarking on a Master’s, but in some areas this is a necessary prerequisite. These are some examples:

  • MBA/EMBA – typically asks for a minimum of 3 years postgraduate full-time work experience and some middle management experience.
  • MEd – the applicant is expected to be an education professional with experience of working in some area of education, such as teaching or administration.
  • MA TESOL – usually requires a minimum of 1-2 years full-time relevant teaching experience after completing an English teaching qualification (PGCE, Graduate Diploma, Dip. TESOL etc).
  • A Master’s degree in medical subjects usually requires the applicant to be a fully-qualified medical Doctor or Health Professional seeking to improve their knowledge of a specialist area they have been working in.

 

Doctoral degrees

Most doctoral degrees are by research – PhD – and take 4 years full-time. In Ireland, PhDs are structured and involve two years preparing the research proposal and designing the research project after which candidates are assessed to ensure that they can progress to the final phase, completing the project and writing and defending the thesis. Before applying to a university, candidates should check that the department has staff working in the area they want to research.

Other doctorates are professional and are a combination of taught and research modules, for example:

  • EdD – Doctor of Education – intended for education professionals who already have a Master’s in an education area and substantial work experience.
  • DBA – Doctor of Business Administration- for professionals in Business who already have a Master’s (MBA, MSc or MA) in a business-related field and substantial work experience at management level.
  • Distance programmes – many Master’s degrees are now being offered part-time by Distance although in some cases there may be a requirement to attend the university at least once or twice during the study period. Research degrees tend to require students to be present at the university for part of the time but allow students to complete their fieldwork and thesis by distance.
  • English Language Programmes are available at all institutions for those who do not meet the usual requirements.

Entry requirements

For entry to a Graduate/Higher Diploma course, the minimum academic level is an Ordinary or Associate degree with a good grade (7/10). English language requirements may vary but generally start at  IELTS -6.0.

 

The minimum requirement for a Master’s is a Bachelor’s degree with Honours (Level 8) or equivalent with a GPA of at least 7/10. Specific requirements such as work experience or the subject of your first degree vary from course to course. Usually, you would need a Bachelor’s degree in an area related to your Masters subject, but there are conversion Masters and Diplomas available in some areas, for example, for non-lawyers choosing a Law-related subject or people with a non-Business background wanting to study a Business-related subject. English language requirements for Master’s start at IELTS 6.5 and vary according to the demands of the subject and the requirements of the university.

 

For a Doctoral degree you usually need a Master’s in the subject area you wish to study and an idea of what you want to research. English language requirements start at IELTS 6.5 but may vary according to the programme and the demands of the course.