I grew up in the UK and I have a Masters degree in Aerospace Engineering from a highly-rated UK University. However, for the past 7 years I have been living and working as an Engineer in the US.

I am wondering if there is a difference in perception/value between a UK Masters and a US Masters? I am aware that a UK Masters is typically one extra year of study; however, in the US I believe a Masters is typically two years. So, is there a general perception that a US Masters is 'better'? If so, then how much of a perception difference is there?

Also, is there any difference in perception of the degrees, if we compare industry to academia? Let's say, if I was to apply for Engineering jobs, compared to applying for a PhD.

  • Statistically? Sure. Relevant? No. People look where exactly you got your degree, what you did for your thesis, where you worked afterwards. Except for some small-minded politicians and the journalists who enable them. Sorry if that came off a little harsh. ;-)
    – Karl
    Jan 23, 2019 at 19:52
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    Nobody cares. It's in the weeds.
    – guest
    Jan 23, 2019 at 20:06
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    The US also has 1-year masters programs. I think the biggest difference is that US masters are typically coursework-focused, while UK masters are typically research-focused. Not sure how that affects perception though.
    – Thomas
    Jan 23, 2019 at 20:24

1 Answer 1


I'll note that the UK masters degree starts (in mathematics at least, and probably other fields) starts with a deeper base, since the undergraduate degree in UK is much more specialized and focused than that in the US. So, it is possible to go farther, since you start farther along. This also explains why there is usually more research done in a UK masters than might be done in a typical (but not exceptional) US masters.

But the perception would depend on people knowing that. Some will and some will not. For academic advancement, I suspect that doctoral admissions systems understand it well. In the workplace probably not so much.

But seven years out, in industry, your best credential is yourself and your own work.

  • This is very interesting. I hadn't realized this, as I haven't been through the US education system (and kids haven't yet either). Is this also (partly) the reason why a US PhD tends to take longer?
    – Time4Tea
    Jan 23, 2019 at 21:30

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