What is an Integrated Master’s?

In General, University by Think Student EditorLeave a Comment

There are a lot of different types and classifications of university degrees in the UK. It can be confusing working out what the difference is, which ones are best to apply for, or even whether these things matter. This article will focus in particular on the integrated master’s degree. There are a few questions students have when they hear about this qualification. What’s the difference between this and a normal master’s degree? Is it better than a bachelor’s degree? Should you apply for an integrated master’s?

An integrated master’s degree is a four-year course that combines the study for a bachelor’s degree and normal master’s degree. You’ll get a master’s degree at the end of the course, such as an MSci, which is a higher level of degree than a bachelor’s on its own. It is sometimes called an undergraduate master’s, because you apply in the same way as for a three-year undergraduate course, whereas you apply for a normal master’s as a postgraduate degree.

Keep reading for a full guide to an integrated master’s degree. We’ll cover more information about the different types and subjects of integrated master’s, advice on choosing whether or not to apply, and more!

What is an integrated master’s degree?

To understand what an integrated master’s degree it, we first need to clarify what a normal master’s degree is.

A master’s is a one- or two-year university degree, normally a postgraduate course you apply for after completing a bachelor’s degree in a similar subject. It’s a level 7 qualification in England, compared to a bachelor’s degree (level 6) or a PhD (level 8).

If you aren’t familiar with what a master’s is, you can read plenty more about it in this full guide from Think Student.

An integrated master’s is essentially the same course but combined with a bachelor’s degree. A bachelor’s degree normally takes three years, and a master’s normally takes one, so an integrated master’s takes four. The first three are the bachelor’s course, then you go straight on into fourth year to study for your master’s degree.

The qualification you get is still recognised at level 7, and much of the course content and projects are similar. The main difference is that you apply for an integrated master’s as an undergraduate, because you haven’t completed a bachelor’s degree yet. That is part of the integrated degree course!

You can learn more about integrated master’s degree in this article by Give Grad A Go.

What are the different types of integrated master’s?

Technically, ‘integrated master’s’ just refers to a master’s degree incorporated as a part of another degree course. This other degree is normally a bachelor’s degree as we’ve discussed, so you do the bachelor’s course first, then one year for the master’s section.

However, you can also get a master’s course integrated as part of a PhD. In this case, because a PhD is more advanced than a master’s, you do the one-year master’s first, then the three- or four-year PhD.

They are therefore more commonly called integrated PhDs, so they don’t get confused with the typical integrated masters. This article will focus more on the typical bachelor’s and master’s version.

However, integrated PhDs are a great qualification to enter into a PhD if you don’t yet have the right qualification, because you have only done an undergraduate (bachelor’s) degree. If this is what you are interested in, you can have a look at this article from the University of Leeds.

What are the different abbreviations of integrated master’s?

The other categorisation of integrated master’s is based on subject. The one most people have heard of is an MSci – Master in Science. Lots of universities offer their standard science courses with both a bachelor’s (BSc) and integrated master’s (MSci) option.

Here, the first two or three years of both courses are the same. The MSci students will continue for an extra year and may have slightly different modules or work in the third year.

For example, UCL has a natural sciences course available as both a three-year BSc (linked on their website here), and a four-year MSci (linked on their website here).

There are also more specific classifications. For example, many universities offer a four year engineering course, where you graduate with an MEng.

Another example is that some universities offer their integrated master’s in Chemistry as an MSci, while others offer it as an MChem. This can sound confusing – but they are essentially the same degree, just with different names!

Overall, don’t get too bogged down with all the specific abbreviations you see. The important thing to look for is whether it is a bachelor’s or integrated master’s degree. The easiest way to spot this is whether the abbreviation starts with a B or an M, and whether the course is 3 or 4 years long.

What is the difference between an integrated master’s and a normal master’s?

We’ve gone briefly over what a master’s is, and what an integrated master’s is, but here we’ll fully explain the differences.

A normal master’s degree is an entirely separate qualification to your bachelor’s degree. They are different courses, and you can take several years in between the two degree programmes. You can also do them at different universities, and you apply for them separately (even if you want to stay at the same university).

An integrated master’s is essentially the opposite to all this. The courses are combined, so you’ll do them at the same university, in four consecutive years, and you only have to apply once at the start of the course. There are pros and cons to this, as we’ll discuss later in the article!

The other main difference is that an integrated master’s will typically be worth 120 credits per year, whereas a full master’s is worth 180. This might be something to consider if you know the career you want to go into is very competitive – it’s possible employers will prefer candidates with a full master’s degree.

You can learn more about how these differ in this article by University Compare.

What is the difference between a MSc and an MSci?

We’ve discussed master’s abbreviations, but this one is particularly confusing. MSc and MSci, although they look really similar, are not the same thing.

An MSc is a Master of Science, which refers to a normal master’s degree, whereas an MSci is a Master in Science, which refers to an integrated master’s.

Hopefully, this shouldn’t affect applicants hugely, because it will be clear if they are just leaving school that they can’t apply for the postgraduate MSc course. However, it’s something to be aware of when it comes to the difference between a normal and integrated master’s!

Should you apply for an integrated master’s?

Now you are hopefully clear on what an integrated master’s is and how it compares to a normal one, you might be wondering which is better to apply for as an undergraduate.

You could apply for a bachelor’s, then decide later to apply for a master’s when you graduate. Alternatively, you could apply straight away to an integrated master’s.

Which route you choose depends largely on personal choices. The pros of doing an integrated master’s might really appeal to you – you only have to apply once and can stay at the same university rather than moving around lots, for example.

Additionally, as the integrated master’s is part of an undergraduate course, you are eligible for undergraduate loans for all four years. However, for a normal master’s degree, you have to apply for postgraduate funding, which works slightly differently.

This article from Think Student has a full guide to student finance as a postgraduate master’s student.

On the other hand, there is less flexibility when you combine the courses. If you are keen to get into the working world, you might want to do a bachelor’s, then get some real-life experience before deciding whether or not you want to do a master’s.

Additionally, the integrated master’s is worth fewer credits than the normal master’s as discussed. If you want to get into the most competitive jobs and career fields, you might feel a master’s is better suited.

All this being said, either way, you start with a three-year bachelor’s degree course. Most universities will allow you to change your mind between graduating with a bachelor’s degree or continuing with a master’s, even if you applied for the other option.

For example, you can read here about the University of Leeds’ policy on this.

How do you apply for an integrated master’s?

You apply for an integrated master’s as an undergraduate, which for many people, means they apply to start the course right after finishing school (or possibly after a gap year).

The application process is pretty much the same as for any other undergraduate course in the UK. The only difference is that entry requirements may be slightly higher for the integrated course, by this is not always the case.

You apply through UCAS, listing your choices, and adding evidence like your personal statement. There are 5 choices on your UCAS application, and they don’t all need to be for the same type of degree.

You could apply for an integrated master’s at one university, but another university might not offer it, so you apply for the bachelor’s degree instead.

Have a look at this page from the official UCAS website for a guide to the application form.

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