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MPhil vs. Ph.D.: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 25, 2023
MPhil stands for "Master of Philosophy" and is a postgraduate degree, while PhD is "Doctor of Philosophy," a higher-level doctoral degree.

Key Differences

MPhil, standing for "Master of Philosophy," is a postgraduate research degree, often pursued before a PhD. On the other hand, PhD, which stands for "Doctor of Philosophy," is a doctoral degree that signifies expertise and authority in a particular field.
While an MPhil is primarily research-focused, its scope and depth are typically less extensive than that of a PhD. A PhD demands significant original contribution to the subject, producing new knowledge or theories.
The duration of an MPhil course is usually shorter than that of a PhD. MPhil might take 1-2 years, whereas a PhD often requires 3-6 years or more, depending on the research topic and region.
Admission to an MPhil program generally requires a master's degree in a related field. In contrast, PhD admissions can either follow the completion of an MPhil or, in some institutions, directly after a bachelor’s degree.
While both MPhil and PhD scholars are required to submit a thesis or dissertation, the expectations for a PhD thesis are usually higher, reflecting a deeper level of research and analysis.

Comparison Chart

Full Form

Master of Philosophy
Doctor of Philosophy




Typically 1-2 years
Typically 3-6 years or more

Research Depth

Relatively less extensive
In-depth and original contribution

Entry Requirement

Generally after a master's degree
After MPhil or directly after bachelor's

MPhil and Ph.D. Definitions


MPhil often requires the submission of a thesis based on original research.
Her MPhil thesis was well-received by the academic community.


PhD candidates typically undergo rigorous examinations.
He successfully defended his PhD thesis in front of a panel of experts.


MPhil can be pursued after obtaining a master's degree in a related field.
He started his MPhil after completing his master's in History.


PhD demands an original contribution to knowledge.
Her groundbreaking findings during her PhD changed the way we understand cell biology.


MPhil signifies advanced knowledge but not as extensive as a PhD.
While an MPhil is commendable, some academic positions require a PhD.


A PhD is often pursued for both academic and professional advancements.
Earning a PhD can open doors to professorial positions in universities.


MPhil is a postgraduate academic research degree.
She completed her MPhil in Literature last year.


PhD is a doctoral-level degree representing expertise in a field.
After years of research, he finally earned his PhD in Biology.


MPhil is a stepping stone to a PhD.
After his MPhil, he decided to pursue a PhD in the same field.


The duration and intensity of PhD research are generally more than MPhil.
While her MPhil took two years, her PhD research extended over five years.


What does PhD mean?

PhD stands for "Doctor of Philosophy."

What does MPhil stand for?

MPhil stands for "Master of Philosophy."

Which is of a higher academic level, MPhil or PhD?

PhD is of a higher academic level than MPhil.

Do both MPhil and PhD require a thesis submission?

Yes, both require a thesis, but the depth and expectations differ.

Which has a broader scope, MPhil or PhD thesis?

A PhD thesis usually has a broader scope and depth than an MPhil thesis.

Are there funded positions for both MPhil and PhD?

Yes, many institutions offer funding, but the availability and amount can vary.

Is MPhil a prerequisite for a PhD?

Not always, it depends on the institution and region. Some allow direct PhD after a bachelor's degree.

Is PhD research more intensive than MPhil?

Yes, PhD research demands a more significant original contribution to the field.

Are both MPhil and PhD recognized globally?

Generally, yes. Both are recognized degrees, but recognition can vary based on institutions and countries.

How rigorous is the examination process for both?

Both are rigorous, but PhD usually involves a more intensive examination and defense process.

Do all universities offer MPhil programs?

No, not all universities offer MPhil; some move directly from master's to PhD programs.

Is the job market for MPhil and PhD graduates similar?

While there's overlap, PhD graduates often have access to a broader range of academic and research positions.

What is the usual duration of a PhD program?

A PhD often takes 3-6 years or more.

Can one teach in a university with an MPhil?

It depends on the university's requirements, but many prefer or mandate a PhD for permanent faculty positions.

Do MPhil graduates use the title "Dr."?

No, only PhD graduates typically use the title "Dr."

Can one switch fields between MPhil and PhD?

Yes, but it might require additional coursework or research preparation.

Can an MPhil graduate publish research papers?

Absolutely, both MPhil and PhD graduates can publish their research in academic journals.

How long does an MPhil typically last?

An MPhil usually lasts 1-2 years.

Can one pursue an MPhil after a bachelor's degree?

Typically, an MPhil is pursued after a master's degree, but some institutions may allow after a bachelor's.

Is fieldwork mandatory for both MPhil and PhD?

It depends on the subject and research topic; not all research requires fieldwork.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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