There are myraids of postgraduate degrees at Masters and PhD levels and in various disciplines. At Masters degree, your degree comes in one of many academic codes as M.Sc, MBA, M.Pharm, LL.M, MILS and so forth. These all show in a broad sense, your academic discipline at Masters.
A popular and more generic Masters degree is the M.Phil. That’s the short for Master of Philosophy. It cut across various disciplines from sciences, to education, art, business and engineering.
Master of Philosophy, M.Phil in…..
Master of Philosophy, Mphil is usually an academic and research based Masters degree programme. A MPhil is earned prior to a PhD. In Nigeria and many other countries, it is a sort of PhD foundation program. It can also be a bridge between an average Masters degree and a PhD.
A postgraduate student can only continue to the PhD component of the program upon satisfactory completion of requirements in the MPhil. Many Nigerian university often put a B-grade (or 60%) in cumulative grade point of course work as a minimum.
Conditions when MPhil is needed
A prospective PhD student can enroll for a M.Phil degree programme, and upon good academic performance continue for a PhD without seeking re-admission. This means the student must already have a master degree. After initial course work, students proceed for a research work. The research work at M.Phil is simply deepened and broadened for the PhD thesis.
Essentially, you will need a M.Phil degree in these ocassion.
- Where your transcript for a previous Master degree show poor academic performance. Presently, the Nigerian University Commision has stipulated a minimum of 3.5 grade point average at Master degree before anyone is admitted for a PhD. Anything below 3.5, you will be heading towards a M.Phil programme.
- Course switch. In this case, a prospective PhD student seeks to switch between similar but different fields of study. A M.Phil is recommended. A good friend at University of Nigeria, who bagged a M.A in philosphy, but was dissatisfied continuing for a PhD in his specialization. Seeking a PhD in philosophy of education, which is quite similar, but an entirely different faculty, he enrolled for a M.Phil with hope of subsequently continuing at PhD.
- Professional Masters to a PhD. This is also a switch but of a different kind. A candidate with a professional masters degree like a MBA cannot be directly admitted to a PhD. Professional masters degree lack the research component, hence postgraduate student need to be grounded in research.
The advantage of the M.Phil is that it gives the solid academic foundation, before entering the wild wild west of research and thesis writing.
Master of Philosophy, M.Phil lasts the normal Masters duration. In Nigeria, this depends on the Postgraduate school. It can range from 1 year to above 2 years.
Terminal and Non Terminal M.Phil
In virtually all cases, a MPhil program is to lead to a doctoral studentship. Where this doesn’t work out, some department in a university can award a terminal MPhil degree.
A terminal MPhil means that the student is awarded a stand alone Master of philosophy degree. When a student does not meet the minimum department requirements for continuation to the PhD, a terminal MPhil is awarded. In rare cases, a MPhil degree can be awarded despite proceeding to a PhD.
The more likely situation that the non terminal MPhil. Here, no certificate is awarded. Postgraduate student either ends up in the PhD program or is withdrawn from the course.
If you have any questions or need clarification, don’t hesitate to drop it in the comments below.