I've got an undergraduate MA, which has, interestingly enough, caused me a significant amount of trouble: Examples include being excluded from student accommodation and being denied funding (they were available only to students working on the "first" "Master's" degree, and they assumed I was working on a second). "Appealing" such decisions is not always possible, as e.g. I only got an official refusal for accommodation two years after applying (about a month before I handed in my thesis), or I got a generic refusal with no explanation or I simply didn't get a response to "appeal" at all.

How can I make the nature of this degree explicit and unambiguous in e.g. contexts of applications?-- Some people simply cannot accept the fact that I do not have a "Bachelor's degree". In fact, a description of the degree is written in English on the second page of my degree transcript, and I have even directed people to this page who then still demanded to see my "Bachelor's degree"; This degree has conferred me the power to actually break bureaucracy despite that I'm not exactly the first person to be awarded such a degree (additionally, undergraduate MAs likely aren't the only example of this). On my CV, I have now put directly before the "MA" title the term (Undergraduate), e.g.:

2004–2008: (Undergraduate) M. A. (honors) Testing Bureaucracy

Previously, I only had the 2004–2008 part, but actually this wasn't enough to make people understand that this is an undergraduate degree. I haven't had any experiences using the (Undergraduate) note, but there are still places where this is simply not possible to note in this way, such as when filling out pre-fabricated forms for e.g. admission or application of funding.

1 Answer 1


I don't know how popular this answer will be with others but ...

Call it a BA phase

whilst applying to graduate schools

In all honesty after having read as to what Scottish MA is, I would suggest that in applications (especially to the US or other parts of the world not particularly familiar with the degree type) that you merely enter it as a BA

2004-2008 BA (honors) Testing Bureaucracy

With this seems inaccurate, consider it a matter of translation rather than some sort of dishonesty with degree names, etc. As the University of Edinburgh states, these are "conventional undergraduate degrees."

Then when it's explaining time, explain that the degree is called a MA for historical reasons (by say printing the appropriate explanation page from your school or wikipedia) and providing that along with the degree certificate or transcript.

None of this is to deny that it looks like a very high quality undergraduate education.

My motive for this suggestion is that doing otherwise will confuse people at a time when their confusion costs you scholarships and other things.

Call it an MA Phase

Once you have some higher degree above it or when you no longer care about graduate school

Revert to calling it an MA on your CV and in applications as you are suggesting. At this point, the only people reading it will glance only briefly at this and not really care.

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    I had considered doing that, but my main fear with that method is that the opposite would happen: I'd apply and then, once they see my "actual" degree, they will reject me on the basis of my application being fraudulent, i.e. that I "lied" about not having an MA in order to get money meant for those who haven't already got one. Commented Mar 11, 2016 at 15:35
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    Unfortunately, I don't see any way around this approach. I also think the negative consequences of calling it a bachelor's degree (maybe you can avoid using the phrasing BA) are far less likely for a simple reason -- by the time they're looking at the actual degree, you're in and it's getting handled by people who now have a motive to make it work. Conversely, during the application phase, a big part of the reviewer's task is to reduce the number of things to think about and anything seemingly askew means trash bin.
    – virmaior
    Commented Mar 12, 2016 at 1:26

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