PG Guide

Graduate Degrees in the UK

Whether you have already completed a study abroad program as an undergraduate and wish to pursue a British graduate degree or wish to embark on a master’s program at a British university for the first time, we offer you options specific to your individual objectives and background.  Across the Pond - Study in the UK partners with British universities that have an outstanding range of high-quality, world-ranking graduate degree programs, most of which are offered in globally leading departments.

Download our A Graduate Guide to Studying in the UK (see form to the right) to learn more about the following:

  • Why you should study in Britain
  • The difference between an American and a British graduate degree
  • The cost of study in the UK
  • How Across the Pond helps you apply
  • Opportunities awaiting you beyond your British graduate degree


American students (or students who have completed their education in the United States) who have graduated with a bachelor’s degree from an accredited US university with a good grade point average (usually 2.5 or higher on a 4.0 scale) will be considered for graduate study.  British universities do not solely rely on a student’s GPA when making an admission decision, however.  They also consider a well-written letter of intent and two academic letters of recommendation.  



At the graduate level (known as postgraduate in the UK), students have a choice between a taught degree, a research-based degree, or a PhD.

The Taught Master’s Degree

Called an MA in England and Wales, sometimes an MLitt in Scotland, or an MSc (which stands for Master’s of Science), a taught master’s degree usually takes just 12 months to complete and is very popular with American students. It follows the same structure of classroom work and some research that you would expect from a US degree, but is more focused and thus shorter.  Many of our partner universities can boast professors who are also leading researchers in their fields of study who are publishing papers and making groundbreaking discoveries, so this is an excellent opportunity to learn from the best!  In terms of recognition, it is the same as an American degree, but you save a year of study.

The Research Master’s Degree

The research-based master’s degree can be called a variety of names, including MSc by Research, MRes, and MPhil, and are normally based on a research project that the student would undertake in lieu of classes.  Research-based master’s usually involve working closely with a tutor and take around 12-18 months to complete but can take sometimes take up to two years. Many students often begin this type of program and then transfer into a PhD. Part of your master’s work is often credited towards your PhD and may serve as a basis for your PhD research area. As with a PhD, in order to be accepted into a research-based master’s program, you must typically submit a research proposal and have a strong background in research, especially in your subject of interest. If you are particularly interested in a specific area of study and have perhaps already done some undergraduate research, this may be an attractive option for you. 

The PhD

British PhD programs take just three years to complete. For more information about PhD programs, please contact your student advisor or sign up for an advisor.



Our Across the Pond expert advisors will assess your academic background and personal interests before recommending the universities and the programs that will best serve your professional goals. As an Across the Pond student, you will receive free guidance and advice throughout the entire application process – from choosing the right university for your goals to writing a strong personal statement to completing the student visa application.  

Already working on an application and looking for some advice? We can help with that too! 

Contact one of our Expert Student Advisors to get started!

Need Help?
Send us a message