There is a degree called “Masters by research” in Australia, in which a researcher basically researches for two years(full time) on the topic or research problem(differs from Phd on many aspects especially minimum requirements).

What is its equivalent degree in USA?

Is it MPhil? Are they both same or are they different? (may be based on entry requirements, task done and degree completion requirements).

As far as I know, both require dissertation but there are not many taught courses in Masters by research and you are expected to make some unique contribution to knowledge body.

Is MPhil restricted to certain faculty such as arts or it can be in any fields (For e.g., computer science)?

I am bit confused as some Australian universities also offer MPhil in addition to master by research degree and I could not find degree called "Masters by research" in US universities.

Can anyone please clarify?

2 Answers 2


In my experience, there isn't a separate degree in the US for achieving your Masters degree through research. In fact, in many places, that's the only way to do so. At the university where I received my Masters degree, you had three options, all of which granted the same degree:

  1. Coursework - Take something like 30 course hours.
  2. Coursework + Project - Take fewer hours (around 20 - 24) and do a larger project than a normal project course.
  3. Coursework + Thesis - Take fewer hours (around 20 - 24) and do a smaller thesis than a PhD.

Many universities don't have of the options and just have #3.

  • Thank you very much. I think you are talking in context of US but in Australia there is masters by research degree which comprises of research only if we have some research experience or some prior degree. For e.g. this one from link below----Master's degrees by research (thesis) – a thesis represents 100 per cent of the course requirements in this supervised research degree. Administered by the Graduate Research and Scholarships Office. source:studyat.uwa.edu.au/courses-and-careers/postgraduate-research/… Commented Apr 22, 2015 at 17:18
  • Sorry, I should have clarified that I meant in the US. Isn't that what you were looking for? Commented Apr 22, 2015 at 17:19
  • Ya,but I am sorry. May be i misunderstood this line "In my experience, there isn't a separate degree for achieving your Masters degree through research." as there are no such degrees anywhere. So,I have to enroll in normal masters and look for research you mean in US? How is it different than Mphil? Just a query. Commented Apr 22, 2015 at 17:22
  • Gotcha. I've edited my answer to be more clear. Commented Apr 22, 2015 at 17:23

I am not familiar with the Australian higher education model, but there are no standardized degree requirements across the United States. Most program requirements are similar, but specific program requirements vary both within and among universities (e.g., most PhD programs require coursework in the US, but not all).

To answer your question What is its equivalent degree in USA?, I'll build upon Wesley Bland's answer. I've personally observed that some programs in the US give Masters of Science (MS) degrees for thesis based graduates (Wesley's option 2) and Masters of Arts (MA) for non-thesis based graduates (Wesley's option 1). Wesley's option 3 could be either an MS or MA degree. But, this trend is not consistent across school or even programs. Additionally, I've seen some programs give MAs to MS students who fail their thesis defense (rather than an MS degree if they re-defend their work or no degree at all).

Last, there is a current trend for schools to offer "professional" Masters level degrees in the US because these programs generate income for the university (see this article for a discussion on the topic. Some of these are MS degrees, some are MA degrees. Others are program specific degrees (e.g., Masters of International Affairs).

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