PhD vs MPhil Degree After Masters? Find Out!
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PhD vs MPhil Degree After Masters? Find Out!

When most of the students are professionally willing to focus more on honing their practical skills in order to be placed in the right concern, there are some whose affinity grows more towards the theoretical aspects of the study. And why it shouldn’t be? Most of the academicians across the world are masters in their field only through a micro- level study in their respective fields. But most importantly the lookout should be for the type of research degrees that an aspirant can aspire.

While PhD is by far the most popular research degree across the world, students can also nurture other research degrees like MPhil, Dsc and so on. Candidates are often confused whether they should opt for an MPhil degree, which is a 1-2 years research-based programme or they should go for a PhD degree after their masters. In many cases, M.Phill degree is seen to be the first step towards a PhD Still, the question remains the same Whether to go for an M.Phill degree or a PhD degree (PhD vs MPhil) after Masters/ post graduation.

In this article, the basics of both MPhil and PhD degrees in terms of structure, value, duration, eligibility criteria have been explained. Difference between an M.Phill & PhD degree is also enlisted which may help you take a decision if you are stuck on the career path with two diversions named MPhill & PhD degree.

What is a PhD?

The PhD or Doctor of Philosophy is one of the highest and premium degree that a student can achieve in his/her academic credentials. A PhD is attained through detailed research on a specific subject or discipline following which the researcher is required to submit a thesis describing the result of her research. Generally, a PhD can be taken up after Masters and MPhil. However, in certain cases, a research career can be pursued even after Bachelors as is relevant in the USA. As the name suggests, a PhD is a doctorate degree and is mainly pursued by those who take a keen interest in a career in academics & research. There is no specific time frame for a PhD but generally, the average tenure is  5 years but it might take even less than 3 years to complete research. A PhD is usually undertaken under any skilled Scientist, Researchers, Academician, working under a university or any recognized Research Institute, who is known to have enough research experience to guide the PhD candidate.

What is an MPhil Degree?

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The Master of Philosophy is a structured research degree that a lot of students take up research-oriented studies for 1 or 2 years. It is an intermediate degree between a Masters and PhD and sometimes considered as the first step towards a Doctorate. In MPhil, students learn about the fundamentals of research work and may actually investigate the research of others rather than taking up their own research. An MPhil degree is more relevant in the field of Arts and Humanities, with many universities offering it as a replacement for PhD.

Again, an MPhil degree is not necessarily a research degree and in cases like that of Cambridge University, MPhil replaces the one year Masters’ degree and include more coursework content. However, in other cases, the MPhil structure is intimated more towards research or the study of it. The Master of Philosophy (MPhil or Ph.M.) is a post-graduate research degree, that can opt after the completion of a bachelor’s degree. Most MPhil degrees are a two-year course, but can also be a three-year course in some countries and involves thesis work only.

Any aspirant may achieve an MPhil after a few years of original research but before giving a dissertation. The degree may also work as a prerequisite for getting enrolled for a PhD. The MPhil has a comparatively lesser weightage compared to PhD.

PhD vs MPhil – What are the major differences?

While the inclination of both the PhD and MPhil is towards research, both are far from being similar degrees. Two of the main differences between these two achievements are, definitely, their lengths and content structure.  The table enlisted below conceptualizes some of the differences between the MPhil and PhD degrees.

DegreeGives a Masters equivalent degree.Gives a doctorate degree.
Duration      1-2 yearsMinimum 5 years. May go beyond 7-10 years.
StructureBoth coursework and researchOnly the research-oriented program
Content To focus on the fundamentals of research and its various strategies. To focus on the original and fresh research theme by the researcher.  
When can be pursued?After completing masters and before pursuing ph.DPhD can be pursued after post graduation and sometimes an MPhil. Sometimes it can be pursued post bachelor’s degree also.
GuidanceAny spectacular guidance of an experienced researcher is not needed.Includes supervision under the expert guidance of an academician
StipendMPhil students don’t come under any scheme of fellowship but some universities provide a token stipend throughout the course.PhD candidates draw their own stipend or fellowship by the university or academician or the investor funding source like CSIR/UGC.


  • A PhD degree has definitely got a high edge over an MPhil degree. MPhil is mostly used as training in advanced research work. The research work in the dissertation need not be compulsorily original but can imitate a research work that has already been done.
  • PhD is a Doctorate degree awarded by Universities. The education level compulsory to pursue PhD course depends largely on the country, institution and time period as well. A student who achieves a PhD degree, he/she known to be tagged with “Doctor” title before his or her name and that definitely stands out to be highly prestigious. The term “Doctorate of Philosophy” does not only relates to the ‘Philosophical dimensions’ but is used in a wider spectrum.

What after the Masters/ Post Graduation – PhD vs MPhil ?

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Speaking in general, pursuing Masters or PhD entirely depends on the interest of an individual. Both are research-oriented programmes but lead to different qualifications and establishments. Since an MPhil is prior to PhD, many students pursue it as a preparation for PhD. It has been observed that MPhil degrees are mostly offered in the field of Arts and Humanities while STEM-related fields focus more on PhD and moreover MPhil courses are rare and not all universities offer this degree and especially research-intensive ones, provide research opportunities in only some of the subjects or fields.

How to apply?

For PhD

  • For PhD, the best way to get into a PhD program is by writing the CSIR NET / GATE / GPAT National Level competitive Exams conducted everywhere, wherein CSIR NET exam is conducted twice a year & GATE / DBT / GPAT once in a year. After qualifying the above exams you can get into a PhD course of your choice with fellowships.
  • Candidates willing to pursue PhD degree can join into integearted Msc-PhD Course after completion of their bachelors dgeree.
  • Entrance exams are also conducted by various private universities for PhD admission but it can burn your pockets, also in maximum cases, no fellowship is provided.
  • You can also get into a PhD course by searching research opportunities in the specific departments and write to them asking for opportunities and also every willing candidate should prepare a strong SOP of their choice.which will add an extra feat to their biodata while applying.
  • While post-graduation is a must for many universities but many even accept Bachelors students, provided the student can show credentials that are impressive and worth enough for the faculty members.
  • Ph.D. aspirants are required to submit a research proposal and their doctorate depends on whether the research proposal or SOP  is accepted and an academician at a university is willing to take the student under her.

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For MPhil

For MPhil, the requirements procedure vary along with the universities. Since an MPhil degree does not demand dissertation work, the students are not required to submit any research proposal for the same. In fact, the process of applying for an MPhil degree is more often the same as for post-graduation. However, the university will look into one’s research interest during screening. Also, as in PhD, it helps to have majored in the same subject as one wishes to pursue MPhil.

By now you must have got some idea about the difference between a Mphil and PhD degree. Which one to go for is totally your call. Keep in mind that career prospects after both degrees are entirely different. A PhD degree carries value both nationally & internationally, thus you need to be focused on your prime goal to make the choice – that is where do you see yourself after 5-10 years from now.

Over to you all now, Make the best choice for yourself!

About the Author
This article has been contributed by Priyanjana Ghosh, Senior Professor at Biotecnika with specialization in Plant Biotechnology. She has been an ardent follower of trends in Biology. She has immense knowledge and interest in Life Sciences.We thank her for her valuable inputs. More such discussions will be published in the future on Biotecnika by her.

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