UK Master’s Degree Vs US Master’s Degree

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Choosing the right university to study at can be a daunting task and even more so when comparing different counties’ education systems. So, we’re here to help guide you through it!

We’ve compiled a list of some differences between UK master’s degrees and US master’s degrees so that you can consider which would be best for your needs.

You take a Master’s to build on your expertise and subject area knowledge. You can either do it to further your career or as part of the process toward gaining a PhD. We’ll try to cover both motivations below.

Types of Master’s Degree Is In Each Country

UK Master’s Degree

UK master’s degrees are typically one year long (Full-time), and most courses entail a research project of some sort. They can be grouped into two main types, taught and research. The research type is more often the preferred choice of students looking to progress to PhD level study.

Taught Master’s are designed to build subject matter expertise and depth of knowledge, but they can still be used to gain access to a PhD. This article has more information on what a UK Master’s degree involves and where it fits in the UK education system.

US Master’s Degree

On the other hand, US master’s degrees typically last two years (full-time), and most courses entail a thesis and coursework. Similar to the UK, they can be split into two main types in the same way but classified as professional and research-based, with the research-based format more suited to progression to a PhD.

Teaching Differences

The course structure is usually quite different between the two types. For example, on taught/ professional master’s degrees, you can expect to take a combination of seminars, lectures and tutorials.

However, in the US, the first half of a master’s is usually broader in subject area. Then in the second half of the course, the work becomes more specialised and focused.

In comparison, a UK master’s is more focused on specific areas from the start. Most universities in the UK and US use the semester system, and the academic terms are similar.

Time To Complete

Time to complete a Master's degree part-time

Looking at standard master’s courses with part-time study, you could complete a UK master’s in around two years, compared to six years for a US master’s.

This means that if you are taking an online master’s degree whilst working full-time. You will need to factor in the opportunity cost of the extra years of study involved in a US master’s degree over a UK master’s degree.

Compare The Cost Of Tuition Fees

Fees for a master’s can vary significantly between universities and course types just within one country. When looking at a comparison between the UK and the US, there are some key points to consider

International Vs Local Fees

Most UK universities charge the same for international students as UK residents for their online master’s degrees. In effect, they have one flat fee for the course. This flat fee structure is very different from on-campus courses in the UK, where international students pay a much higher tuition fee than UK residents.

It’s not as clear-cut in the US as there are different types of universities- not-for-profit, for-profit and state universities.

As a general rule, state universities will not charge international students more. However, you will need to check if you plan to study at a not-for-profit or for-profit education provider as they vary in how they set their fees for international students.

Government Funding Availability

The second part is to consider is the available funding options. If you are a UK resident, the main form of funding for higher education is the government’s student loan scheme. Unfortunately, this is not available to use to fund studies outside the UK. This means that you would need to either invest in a US master’s from savings or use commercial loans and scholarships if you are fortunate.

For US students, you might be able to use your federal loan for a UK master’s. It’s not always possible as the UK university needs to have its own policies and processes to accept this funding method.

You will need to speak with your prospective University to understand what is possible. You can find out more information here about how you can use federal aid for international study.

Master's degrees compared

Factors that impact the costs

Looking at the wide range of Masters degrees available, you will see that the costs of courses vary widely within each country, making a clean comparison between the two countries difficult.

In each country, the subject area and ranking of the university influence the cost of the course. For example, an MBA from a top business school, such as Imperial College London, costs many multiples of the fees of a humanities course from a less renowned university.

There is so much variation between top, middle, and lower-ranked universities that this one factor impacts cost the most. The next most significant factor is the subject area. Courses whose graduates can command top salaries tend to have higher fees than courses whose graduates do not see such a salary uplift.

When comparing, one of the key differences between the two countries is the time to complete, making the UK a more efficient way to gain a postgraduate education.

As you can see, it is not easy to compare the costs. However, considering all things, overall, taking a comparable online master’s at an American university on average will cost more than an online master’s degree from a similarly ranked UK university. 

Is a UK Master’s recognised in the US?

Is a UK Master's degree recognised in the US

For university appointments and research positions in US universities, the answer is yes. A UK master’s will be highly regarded and very much respected for the work and research involved.

Companies in the US respect UK master’s degrees. Having an international education can really make a job application stand out from other CVs.

However, certain specific roles, such as working in medicine or becoming a teacher, often require local certification.

Is a US Master’s recognised in the UK?

A US Master’s is generally accepted as the same level as a UK master’s for academic and business purposes in the UK.

But be aware, as, in the US, certain professions in the UK will require a specific local certification or professional membership, such as medicine or teaching.

Benefits of attending a university outside your home country

There are many benefits of studying at a university in another country. One of the most important is to get an international experience of learning and collaborating in a global context.

You get to expand your network internationally and enhance your business knowledge by being part of a global community. In addition, international study experience quickly enhances your communication skills, opens up the job market and allows you to interact with different cultures and build a global perspective.

UK Master’s Degree Next Steps

If you’re looking for a higher level certification and want to continue your studies with a global perspective, then a UK Master’s might be right for you.

In addition to the other benefits discussed in this blog post, studying at a university abroad can open up new opportunities by exposing students to different cultures and points of view.

But before you make any decisions about which school or program is best for you, start searching and comparing masters’ courses online with our help!

Contents

University Rankings

Use these links to view the full rankings (Opens in a new window)

THE World University Rankings

QS World University Ranking

ARTU Ranking

QS World University Rankings- QS Quacquarelli Symonds rankings data(CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)