Difference Between MPhil and PhD

The difference between MPhil and PhD has always been confusing to many students who which to further their education. Both MPhil and PhD are offered at postgraduate level and they both have almost the same study structure but they exist a difference between the two.

Both M.Phil. and PhD are both research-based programme. This is the most confusing factor between the two. However, the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is the highest ranking degree provided to the scholars by the university for their research work.

On the other hand, Masters of Philosophy (M.Phil) is only a post-graduate degree, which is both research-based and has a syllabus too for the coursework. In this article, you will find a complete description of the differences between M.Phil. and Ph.D.

What is a Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.)


Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.) is a postgraduate degree programme based on advanced academic research work, offered by the University. It is also considered as an intermediate degree programme between postgraduate degree and doctorate.

The total duration of M.Phil programme is two years of which one year is for coursework, followed by a dissertation work. The evaluation of the dissertation is done by the internal supervisor and external examiner, which will lead to viva-voce. Once the candidate qualifies the viva-voce, he/she is awarded the degree of M.Phil.

Before the final submission of the dissertation, the student has to give a seminar presentation on the research work performed.

What is a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is the topmost degree awarded by any university to its scholars, who have completed their original research in the topic or field selected.

In most cases, a PhD can be taken up after Masters and MPhil. However, in certain cases, certain research degree can be pursued even after Bachelor. The doctorate degree is mainly pursued by those who are interested in a career in academics. There is no specific time frame for a PhD programme.

However, it generally takes upwards 3 years to complete a research which can go upto 7-10 years. A PhD is usually undertaken under an academician, working under a university or otherwise, who is known to have enough research experience to guide the PhD candidate.


Differences Between M.Phil. And Ph.D

While the inclination of both a PhD and MPhil is towards research, both are far from being similar degrees. Two of the main differences between the degrees are, of course, their lengths and content structure.

Element MPhil PhD
Degree Leads to a Masters equivalent degree. Leads to a doctorate degree.
Length 1-2 years At least 3-4 years. May go beyond 7-10 years.
Structure Could be both coursework and research Only research oriented
Content Focus on the fundamentals of research. Refers to research by other scholars Focus on original and fresh research studies by the researcher.
When After Masters and before PhD PhD is generally done after Masters and sometimes an MPhil. Could also be done after Bachelors in some cases.
Guidance Does not include working under the guidance of an experienced researcher Includes working under the expert guidance of a academician
Stipend MPhil students are not, usually, paid stipend during their studies. PhD candidates are paid a stipend by the university or academician or the investor funding the.


The difference between MPhil and PhD is very clear and pursuing any of them depends on the interest of the student. Since an MPhil is intermediate to a PhD, many students pursue it as a preparation for PhD. It has, however, been observed that MPhil degrees are mostly offered in the field of Arts and Humanities while STEM related fields focus more on PhD.

Further, MPhil courses are rare and not all universities offer an MPhil degree while most universities, especially research intensive ones, offer research opportunities in at least some of the subjects.


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