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I know someone doing an MSci in Computer Science—an MSci being an integrated (undergraduate) Master's degree, so equivalent in the UK to an MSc—and as such achieved all the credits required for a BSc but did not graduate last year. All the way through this year, they have had the option to drop out of the MSci course and graduate with their BSc qualification, which they got a 2:1 in.

Note: I am referring to the UK system: in this case, a 2:1 refers to upper second-class honours and 2:2 refers to lower second-class honours.

Now, with less than two weeks to go, they are concerned about their exams and dissertation and so on, and are worried that they will get a 2:2 at the Master's level. As a result, they are considering dropping out last minute and just taking the BSc 2:1.

Now I am advising against this, as for one thing it just makes this whole last year a waste of time and I reckon they're quite solidly in the 2:1 bracket for MSci anyway, but I also think that a 2:2 Master's is still considered better than a 2:1 BSc.

I'm also thinking that within 5 years or so of industry work (this person has already secured a long-term position based on an internship) the degree, and much less the classification, become less significant compared with the person's industry record. In 5 years time, I expect a future employer to be looking at the employment and project record and possibly be interested the degree achieved, but not the degree classification, in which case an MSci is better than a BSc. This is just anecdotal though, I am by no means an expert on how people look at CVs in later stages of employment in industry.

So I already have quite a clear opinion on this, but I'd like to hear what professionals think about it. Thinking objectively, which is likely to be better: a 2:1 BSc in Computer Science, or a 2:2 MSci in Computer Science?

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    Can you edit the question to mention the schooling system/region you're talking about? I'm not sure if 2:1 and 2:2 need to be explained within your region, but they are not common terms in the U.S. and the options are not at all clear in that context. – cactus_pardner Apr 22 '18 at 23:14
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    @cactus_pardner I've attempted to clear this up, but still not sure if it's clear enough to an international audience - please let me know if you have further suggestions – Jack Parkinson Apr 22 '18 at 23:18
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    See my answer below. – aeismail Apr 22 '18 at 23:28
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    If you take the 2:1 Bsc degree wont it be obvious that you didn’t complete the MSci? Having the MSci would almost certainly look better than having dropped out of the MSci.... – Brian Borchers Apr 23 '18 at 1:41
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    Questions about academia specific to other countries aren't met with this insistence on explaining the system to USA-based users. Why the comments here in particular? Someone who doesn't know the difference between a 2:1 and a 2:2 either won't need to know exactly what it means or won't be able to give helpful advice anyway. – Nij Apr 23 '18 at 9:22
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It really does depend on what the short- and long-term career objectives are. If someone really has no desire to continue on to a PhD, then it probably doesn't make too much of a difference—they're being hired based on what they can do with the master's, rather than the grade, and only a handful of employers will care about the difference between a 2:1 and 2:2.

On the other hand, if at some point, someone wants to go back to graduate school for further training, a 2:2 master's may not be the most useful credential to have on one's record.

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