Explained | Difference between MPhil and PhD

The UGC on Wednesday warned universities against offering MPhil degrees, saying such degrees are not recognised, and asked varsities to take immediate steps to stop admissions to such programmes for the 2023-24 academic year.
Last Updated : 27 December 2023, 13:24 IST

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The University Grants Commission (UGC) on Wednesday warned universities against offering MPhil courses, saying it is not a recognised degree and cautioned students against taking admission in such programmes.

"It has come to the notice of the UGC that a few universities are inviting fresh applications for the MPhil (Master of Philosophy) programme. In this regard, it is to bring to the notice that the MPhil degree is not a recognised degree,” UGC Secretary Manish Joshi said, asking universities to not offer any MPhil programmes.

The commission has asked universities to take immediate steps to stop admissions to any such MPhil programme for the 2023-24 academic year.

In view of the UGC’s warning, we take a look at the difference between an MPhil degree and a PhD degree.

What is an MPhil degree?

An MPhil, or Master of Philosophy, degree in India is an advanced postgraduate research degree that is considered a precursor to a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy). Here's a comparison:

Level of degree

MPhil: It is a master's level degree, which means it is pursued after completing a bachelor's degree and, in some cases, after a master's degree.

PhD: This is a doctoral level degree, representing the highest level of academic achievement in a given field.


MPhil: Generally, it takes 1-2 years to complete.

PhD: The duration for a PhD is typically longer, ranging from 3 to 5 years, or even more, depending on the research work.

Purpose and scope

MPhil: The MPhil is designed to provide advanced research skills and knowledge, but it is more structured and often includes coursework along with a shorter thesis. It's ideal for those who are interested in advanced study but may not want to commit to a longer PhD program.

PhD: The focus here is on creating new knowledge through original research. PhD candidates are expected to conduct extensive research, culminating in a dissertation that contributes significantly to their field of study.

Admission requirements

MPhil: Candidates usually need to have a master's degree in a relevant field, although some institutions might accept students directly from a bachelor's program if they show exceptional promise.

PhD: Generally, a master’s degree is required to enroll in a PhD program. In some cases, students who have completed an MPhil are preferred, or it can be a prerequisite.

Research components

MPhil: The research component, though significant, is usually less extensive than that of a PhD. The MPhil thesis is often seen as a precursor to a PhD dissertation.

PhD: The centerpiece of a PhD program is the dissertation, which requires significant original research and must contribute new knowledge or understanding to the field.

Career prospects

MPhil: Graduates may go into various fields, including academia, research, consultancy, and more, but they may not qualify for certain higher-level academic positions.

PhD: A PhD is often required for careers in academia and advanced research. It is considered essential for those aiming to become university professors or lead researchers in their fields.

In summary, while both the MPhil and PhD involve research, the scope, depth, and duration of this research differ significantly, with the PhD being a more advanced and intensive program. The MPhil can be a stepping stone to a PhD or a terminal degree for those seeking advanced knowledge without committing to the longer duration of a doctoral program.

(With PTI inputs)

(Disclaimer: This article has been written by a generative AI tool and has been reviewed and edited by the DH Web Desk)

Published 27 December 2023, 13:24 IST

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