What is an Intercalated Degree?

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If you are familiar with the process of becoming a doctor, you will know that it is an incredibly difficult and long process. The first step of this process is completing a degree in medicine. This is commonly referred to as an MBBS. A typical MBBS will last roughly five or six years and sometimes even longer.

If you are in the middle of completing a medical degree, you may wish for a slight change if your degree is too overwhelming. Perhaps you would like to study a different scientific discipline or something completely different for a year. It is for this reason that intercalated degrees were introduced.

To put it simply, intercalated degrees are an opportunity for medical students to complete another professional qualification whilst also completing their medicine degree. Students can complete qualifications like a masters or a bachelor’s degree in a related or unrelated subject. An intercalated degree generally lasts one year which is taken out of your medicine degree.

Although intercalated degrees are popular, not many people are aware of what they entail and the advantages and drawbacks they can have. Read on to find out about the types you can do and to find out if taking an intercalated degree is the best option for you.

What is an intercalated degree?

As mentioned above, an intercalated degree is an additional qualification you can pursue. You will usually see them referred to as an iBSc. Although it is a popular choice amongst medical students, not all universities will offer this.

You can check out the universities that do offer it here at Med School Genie. However, you should note that you will be extending your medical degree by a year.

Although the degree only lasts a year, the qualification will include all topics typically taught for a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree. This essentially means that three years of education could be compressed into one.

If you were looking to lighten your workload by taking an intercalated degree, it is probably not the best choice for you. An intercalated degree will be just as much, if not more, work than medical school.

You will not be able to do an intercalated degree as soon as you start a medical degree. Many universities will often have strict requirements about who can complete the degree. You will usually have to have completed or about to complete 2 years of a UK MBBS course.

Depending on the intercalated degree, there may also be additional entry requirements. These entry requirements will be based on the entry requirements undergraduates students would have for the same bachelor’s degree.

For example, if you are pursuing an intercalated degree in medical physics, it is expected that you have an A grade or higher in both mathematics and physics. For more on this, you can see the entry requirements for different degrees in medical physics on this page by WhatUni.

You may be wondering why someone who is studying to become a doctor may choose to take on this additional degree. There are many traits that make someone a great doctor. Completing medical school is necessary but it is not the only thing needed.

What are the benefits of an intercalated degree?

Doctors need to keep up with the latest medical research and need to be aware of the internal management of a hospital as well as other healthcare facilities.

Skills like this can be acquired through an iBSc and may even present students with more opportunities that they may not have through medical school. This includes opportunities like publishing research papers and presenting your findings to international professionals. These are just a few examples of what you could expect from this degree.

If you already know what speciality you would like to go into after your degree, you may even choose to get a head start. UCL amongst many other universities offer intercalated degrees for specialties.

These include women’s health, oncology as well as others. This can make it easier to get selected for your specialty training when competing against equally qualified doctors. For more information about this, check out this guide by UCL.

Can you intercalate at master’s degree level?

The majority of students who choose to intercalate will choose a bachelor’s degree. This includes both a BSc or a BA.

However, students also have the option of doing postgraduate study in the form of a taught master’s degree or perhaps a research master’s degree. Unlike an undergraduate degree, you may also be expected to apply with your CV alongside a personal statement.

Postgraduate study is only available to students who have completed three or more years of their medicine degree. This is because it will expect more independence from you and more specialised knowledge than a bachelor’s degree. There is much more variety of subjects you could study including law and management.

For more on this, check out this guide by the University of Manchester. For more on how to apply to a master’s degree, check out this article by Postgrad.

Is an intercalated degree worth it?

The main disadvantage of an intercalated degree is the additional year to a medicine degree. To some of you a year may not seem like much. However, when you factor in all the other years of training you will need to become a specialised doctor, one year can make all the difference.

As mentioned above, the process to becoming a doctor is a very long one. This article from Think Student details juts how long it takes to become a doctor.

You should only take an intercalated degree if you do not mind taking longer to complete the degree. This will mean that you will not be graduating with your colleagues.

However, the opportunities given to you from an intercalated degree could change your career path. You may discover that you enjoy researching diseases and illnesses rather than treating patients.

You may even want to go into science communication alongside a job as a doctor. Therefore, the additional year will not make a big difference to your career.

The choice to do an intercalated degree ultimately comes down to you. Make sure to do your own research and find out more about what you want to do with your career. Even if you do not take an intercalated degree, you can still complete an additional qualification after your medicine degree.

For more on whether an intercalated degree is worth it, check out this article by Melanin Medics.

Hopefully, this article has given you a better understanding of what you should expect when pursuing an intercalated degree. Although intercalated degrees have the potential to boost your career, you will not necessarily be disadvantaged if you choose not to do one. Focusing on your medicine degree is more important than anything else.

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