I have a BSc degree from a private university in Egypt. The university offered me a scholarship at the beginning of the program but that scholarship applied only partially to a subsequent MSc degree.

There's an overlap in the degree requirements for the BSc and the MSc, which means that the 5th year of the BSc is also the first year of the MSc. By doing research for 6 more months, the MSc degree is complete. The scholarship applied to everything but those 6 months, yet the tuition for that was very expensive.

Since I was a top ranked student, my dean said that if I did research at an associate research institute abroad he will ask the university's top management to

  1. officially enroll me in the program,
  2. delay payment of the tuition,
  3. and consider offering me a scholarship for the remaining tuition

with one caveat: He will not know their decision until the very end of the program.

I took that risk, and successfully defended and submitted my thesis at the end of the program. While the university agreed to #1 and #2, my dean's attempts at #3 were fruitless. I have proof that I was enrolled as an MSc student and the university printed my degree's certificate but they will not hand it to me unless I pay the full tuition, which I can not.

My question is: Do I have a MSc degree or not? How should I address this on my CV/Resume?

  • Since your dean is so helpful, perhaps he could help you receive your MSc at the university where you got your BSc.
    – earthling
    Apr 21 '13 at 0:33
  • @earthling I did the work at the research institute but the MSc degree was issued from the same university where I got my BSc also.
    – user6864
    Apr 21 '13 at 18:43


Unless your university is willing to provide proof that they granted you a degree, they didn't. Listing an MSc degree on your résumé that your university is unwilling to confirm invites accusations of fabrication, which would be nearly impossible to refute and which could cost you your job many years in the future.

On the other hand, nothing stops you from publishing your thesis, or asking your dean for a recommendation letter explaining the unfortunate situation.


First of all, I agree 100% with everything JeffE wrote, so I won't repeat it here.

As for how you should describe this in your CV / résumé, I'd suggest describing your M.Sc. studies as in progress, with a brief parenthetical note explaining the details (e.g. "studies completed in 201X with GPA Y, thesis approved with grade Z; formal completion delayed pending resolution of financial issues").

After all, that's what your situation technically is: you haven't received your Master's diploma yet, but you've completed some of the requirements for it, and may receive it in the future once you complete the rest. The fact that, in your case, the missing requirements are financial rather than strictly educational does not affect this main point.

I wouldn't dwell too much on the specific details in a CV, since it's supposed to be a brief summary of your experience. In particular, you do not want to come across as bitter or accusatory, nor as financially irresponsible. A short and neutral phrase like "financial issues" is probably best: if the prospective employer is curious, they'll ask you about it. (Do expect it to come up in an interview, if you make it that far.) Or just do as JeffE suggests, and get someone else, like your dean, to write a letter of recommendation for you explaining the situation.

  • Yes, I considered a brief explanation but doesn't that raise more questions than it answers given that I'm currently doing a PhD?
    – user6864
    Apr 21 '13 at 18:46
  • 3
    Depending on how you phrase it, it might. But that's not necessarily a bad thing, especially if your CV looks good otherwise (good grades, etc.). So you're already enrolled in a PhD program without, technically, having completed your MSc? Some would see that as a good sign: it implies that someone felt you were good enough to make an exception for. In any case, having something unusual in your CV to pique the reader's curiosity just might help it stand out from the pile of other, competing CVs. Apr 21 '13 at 20:39
  • 2
    @user6864: If you finish your PhD, nobody will care whether you have an MSc or not.
    – JeffE
    Apr 21 '13 at 21:12
  • 2
    @user6864: It's not a horrible idea, as long as not much time has passed since you completed your thesis. But over time, the claim "formal completion delayed [for whatever reason]" will start to smell, especially since there's no standard mechanism to verify your claim.
    – JeffE
    Apr 21 '13 at 22:54
  • 2
    Agreed. My advice was based on the assumption that all this has happened fairly recently, and that in the foreseeable future you expect either to make enough money to pay off the tuition fees and get your diploma, or else to obtain a higher degree (or substantial work experience), rendering your missing MSc mostly irrelevant. Apr 22 '13 at 0:08

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