I'm currently trying to apply for a PhD position, but am unable to meet the entry requirements. My (potential) supervisor has advised me to undertake an honours year to meet the requirements.

I completed my bachelors degree in 2010 at a completely different university and everybody I've known has done their honours year as a part of their undergraduate degree before graduation.

My degree was titled "Bachelors of Computer and Mathematical Sciences" and shortened to BCM. So I would be

Mr. LegoStormtrooper BCM

while my friends who have completed their honours would be

Mr. Other Guy BCM(Hons)

For me, I can't just add on "Hons" because it would be in a different field at a different university.

So I am very confused about this. I've heard of Bachelors, Masters, Doctorates, Graduate Certificates, but never an "Honours degree" as an independent thing.

Can any one explain how this works?

  • 1
    More the case that I'm utterly confused what an "honours degree" is, if its not attached to a Bachelors. Do I have to start all over again? If not, what is the extra year? Its not an honours year to my other degree as that was at another university?
    – user20640
    May 22, 2015 at 6:24
  • 1
    This is a great question to ask your (potential) supervisor.
    – JeffE
    May 22, 2015 at 14:45
  • Based on another of your questions, you're in Australia. UNSW says that it's possible to enroll in an "Honours" year by applying directly to the university. I wasn't able to confirm that on the software engineering page.
    – mkennedy
    May 22, 2015 at 17:47

2 Answers 2


I am familiar with the situation in NZ. Since Australia and NZ share many commonalities in higher education, i suspect that things are similar.

A normal bachelors degree is a three-year degree and by itself not sufficient for getting into a PhD program. An honours degree adds a fourth year to the bachelor degree and is normally open to very good students (there are GPA criteria for entry). In particular, an honours degree often involves a research project and is deemed sufficient for PhD admission. Most if not all people do the honours degree immediately after their bachelor. Generally, you need a four-years degree to get into the PhD, which can either be an honours or a master degree.

  • Yes, but what is an "honours degree"?? Is that a 4 year bachelors degree, because I did a 3 year degree a few years back, and don't want to have to do another 4 years at uni just to get into the PhD.
    – user20640
    May 22, 2015 at 6:43
  • You completely missed the point of my question which is: "If I've already completed a Bachelors degree (without honours) how does an getting an honours degree work?
    – user20640
    May 22, 2015 at 6:44
  • It depends. Some degree programmes are four-year degrees from the very beginning and only allow graduation with the honours degree. For other programmes there is a three-year (bachelor) plus one year (honours) split. You get admitted to the honours if your GPA is good enough. From the wording of your supervisor's advice, his institution follows the latter model. May 22, 2015 at 7:01
  • "admitted to the honours"... I don't understand this bit. Is an "Honours degree" separate to a bachelors?
    – user20640
    May 22, 2015 at 13:35

I think that you are asking about an Honours degree in Aus/NZ. The Honours degree is an additional year(or two depend on the university) of specialized course or research for those who have completed their bachelor degree.

Academic routes of AUS/NZ are different from USA. Their bachelor degrees are usually 3 years, then for some student who want to do research, they study more for an honours degree. In USA, normally their undergraduate degree study already study for 4 years. (Which means it may already included the "Honours Degree"(a.k.a. doing research project), but it depend on whether what each university names their own degree.)

for example, in Honours Year Australian National University

  • This is completely inaccurate for the UK. In the UK (except Scotland, where the situation is slightly different) the 'default' degree is an honours degree, which takes three years in most subjects. Students may sometimes instead study for an 'ordinary' or 'pass' degree, which may be shorter or may just have lower requirements to be awarded. The 'honours' part of the degree is nothing to do with a research requirement.
    – dbmag9
    Jun 5, 2015 at 17:33

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