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What Is The Difference Between MPhil And PhD? Let’s Explore

Tom Baldwin - Jan 24, 2024

Do you want to know What is the difference between MPhil and PhD? You are at the right place. This latest post will explore What is the difference between MPhil and PhD, whether Should I do an MPhil or a PhD?, and, most importantly, The Similarities between an MPhil and a PhD.

And many more that can be helpful for you. So, without any delay, let’s get started.

Key TakeAway

  • Career Goals: PhD for academia and research leadership; MPhil for research, teaching, or industry.
  • Research Depth: PhD requires extensive, original research; MPhil serves as a stepping stone.
  • Time Commitment: PhD is longer (3-5 years); MPhil is shorter (1-2 years).
  • Consideration: Assess personal circumstances, financial stability, and networking opportunities.

What Is The Difference Between MPhil And PhD? 

Both MPhil and PhD are advanced academic degrees that signify a high level of expertise in a particular field of study. However, they differ in terms of duration, research scope, and depth of academic inquiry.

1. Definition:

MPhil (Master Of Philosophy):

  • MPhil is a postgraduate research degree that sits between a master’s degree and a PhD.
  • It involves a substantial research project, but the scale and depth of the research are generally less extensive than that of a PhD.
  • MPhil programs often serve as a stepping stone for those who wish to pursue a PhD but may not have a research master’s degree.

PhD (Doctor Of Philosophy):

  • A PhD is the highest academic degree that one can achieve.
  • It is characterized by a significant and original contribution to knowledge in a specific field.
  • PhD programs are longer and more demanding than MPhil programs and often require a more extensive and in-depth research project.

2. Duration


  • MPhil programs typically last for 1-2 years.
  • The duration can vary depending on the country and university.


  • PhD programs are more extended and usually take 3-5 years to complete.
  • The extended duration is necessary to allow for the comprehensive research required to make an original contribution to the field.

3. Research Scope


  • MPhil research projects are significant but are not expected to be as extensive as those in a PhD.
  • The focus is often on mastering research methods and techniques rather than creating entirely new knowledge.


  • PhD research is expected to make a novel and substantial contribution to the field.
  • The research undertaken in a PhD program should be original, advancing the current understanding of the subject.

4. Admission Requirements


  • Admission to an MPhil program typically requires a bachelor’s degree.
  • Some programs may also accept candidates with a strong performance in a relevant master’s program.


  • Admission to a PhD program usually requires a master’s degree in a related field.
  • Exceptional candidates with a strong bachelor’s degree may be admitted directly into a PhD program in some cases.

5. Thesis/Dissertation


  • MPhil programs require the completion of a thesis or dissertation that demonstrates a student’s understanding of existing literature and the ability to conduct research.


  • The doctoral dissertation in a PhD program is more extensive and aims to make a unique contribution to the academic field.
  • PhD candidates are expected to produce a thesis that significantly advances knowledge and understanding in their chosen subject.

6. Career Implications


  • MPhil graduates often pursue careers in research, teaching, or industry.
  • Some may use the MPhil as a qualification to apply for a PhD program.


  • A PhD is a prerequisite for certain academic and research positions.
  • PhD holders are often considered experts in their field and may have more opportunities for leadership roles in academia, research institutions, and industry.

The primary difference between an MPhil and a PhD lies in the scope and depth of the research undertaken. MPhil programs provide a solid foundation in research methods and techniques, while PhD programs require a more extensive and original contribution to the field. 

The decision between an MPhil and a PhD depends on one’s career goals, the level of commitment to research, and the desire to make a significant impact on a specific academic discipline.

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The Similarities Between An MPhil And A PhD

The Similarities Between An MPhil And A PhD

MPhil (Master of Philosophy) and PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) are both advanced research degrees and they share several similarities:

1. Research Focus

Both MPhil and PhD degrees require students to conduct original and independent research. The primary goal is to contribute new knowledge or insights to the chosen field of study.

2. Thesis Or Dissertation

In both MPhil and PhD programs, students are typically required to produce a substantial written document known as a thesis (MPhil) or dissertation (PhD). This document outlines the research methodology, findings, and conclusions of their research project.

3. Academic Rigor

Both programs are academically rigorous and demand a high level of critical thinking, analytical skills, and scholarly engagement. Students are expected to engage deeply with existing literature in their field and demonstrate a thorough understanding of relevant theories and methodologies.

4. Supervision

Students in both MPhil and PhD programs often work closely with a faculty advisor or supervisor who guides and supports their research. Regular meetings with the supervisor are common to discuss progress, challenges, and next steps in the research process.

5. Graduate-Level Courses

While the emphasis in both programs is on research, students may also be required to take graduate-level courses to deepen their theoretical and methodological knowledge in their field of study.

6. Peer Review

Both MPhil and PhD students are usually expected to participate in academic conferences and submit their work for peer-reviewed publications. This exposure helps in disseminating research findings and receiving feedback from the academic community.

7. Intellectual Independence

Both programs aim to develop students’ ability to work independently as scholars. While there is guidance and supervision, students are expected to take ownership of their research projects and drive them forward.

8. Contribution To Knowledge

Both degrees involve making a meaningful contribution to the existing body of knowledge in a specific academic discipline. This contribution can be through the discovery of new facts, the development of new theories, or the application of existing knowledge in a novel way.

Despite these similarities, it’s crucial to note that there are also significant differences, particularly in terms of the scope, depth, and duration of the research involved. The decision between an MPhil and a PhD should align with your career goals and the level of commitment you are prepared to make to advanced academic research.

Should I Do An MPhil Or A PhD?

Should I Do An MPhil Or A PhD?

The decision to pursue an MPhil (Master of Philosophy) or a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) depends on various factors, including your career goals, research interests, and personal circumstances. Here are some considerations to help you make an informed decision:

1. Career Goals

Consider your long-term career objectives. A PhD is typically required for positions in academia, research institutions, and certain specialized fields. If you’re aiming for a research career, teaching at the university level, or a leadership role in your field, a PhD may be more suitable.

2. Research Interests

Think about the depth of research you want to engage in. A PhD involves more extensive and original research than an MPhil. If you are passionate about a specific topic and want to make a significant contribution to the existing knowledge in that area, a PhD might be the better choice.

3. Time Commitment

A PhD usually takes several years to complete, while an MPhil is typically shorter in duration. Consider your ability and willingness to commit to a more extended and intense research project.

4. Financial Considerations

PhD programs are often funded, either through scholarships, grants, or assistantships. Consider the financial aspects of each option, as pursuing a PhD may have different funding opportunities compared to an MPhil.

5. Personal Circumstances

Evaluate your situation, including family commitments, financial stability, and other responsibilities. A PhD can be demanding, both mentally and emotionally, so it’s important to assess whether you are ready for the challenges it may pose.

6. Networking And Collaboration

Consider the networking opportunities and collaborative experiences that each program may offer. PhD programs often provide more extensive opportunities for networking, collaboration, and exposure to experts in the field.

7. Job Market

Research the job market in your field to understand the requirements for the positions you are interested in. Some positions may specifically require a PhD, while others may value the skills and knowledge gained from an MPhil.

8. Consult With Advisors And Mentors

Seek advice from your current academic advisors, mentors, or professionals in your field. They can provide valuable insights based on their experiences and knowledge of the industry.

Ultimately, the decision between an MPhil and a PhD depends on your individual goals and circumstances. Take the time to thoroughly research and reflect on your aspirations before making a decision.


In conclusion, the choice between an MPhil and a PhD hinges on factors such as career goals, research interests, and personal circumstances. While both degrees involve rigorous research, a PhD demands a more extensive and original contribution to the field. 

Consider the time commitment, financial aspects, and networking opportunities before making a decision.

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