Grading at the postgraduate level is a little more nuanced than it is at the undergraduate level.
In this blog we’re going to take a look at what is involved in the grading process.
Most masters courses work on the same grading system of fail, pass, merit and distinction. A fail is anything less than 50%, a pass is over 50%, merit is over 60% and a distinction is over 70% or sometimes 80%. Some masters courses have a pass or fail system, rather than a separation of grades and this depends on the subject area, but it can vary between courses at different institutions in the same subject. Most MSc courses tend to just have pass and distinction and it is nearly impossible to get a 100% in the arts. Most universities will put information about their grading systems online. For example, here are the University of Bristol’s guidelines, those for Ohio State University and the University of Sydney’s grading system. As you can see, it’s a good idea to have a conversation with your course leader or tutor about how the grading system applies to your course and you as the regulations can be complicated.
How are grades awarded at the masters level?
Everything at masters level is double-blind marked, so two of your lecturers or tutors will mark your work and then agree on the grade between them. It depends on the assignment and how it is presented as a piece of work, as an essay or an exam will be marked differently from a presentation.
Is a masters grade the same around the world?
A masters degree has the same weighting across Europe as European universities have agreed that all university qualifications are worth the same number of credits. This means that the qualifications are transferable all over Europe. Generally, the same can be said for many other countries, especially in the English-speaking world, but if you are planning on continuing your education in another country, you should check with the institution you are planning on attending with regards to the transferability of your qualifications.
Do grades matter at masters level?
At postgraduate level, there is more emphasis on the content of your essays and research rather than on the grades you received. If you are planning on moving into a specific field of work after you graduate, then you should ensure that the modules you study and essays you write are all geared towards that field. The only time the grade truly matters is if you are considering a PhD after completing the masters program. However, showing that you have improved your skills across the course is just as important as getting the best grades right from the start.
What else is important?
Once you get into searching for a job you will quickly realise that extra-curricular activities and work experience are just as important as your masters grades, as is trying to meet the right people through networking. Showing you can work efficiently and are a self-reliant person is an important addition to your CV.
How many people have a masters degree in the US?
Here’s a table showing the percentage of adults over the age of 25 with a masters degree in the United States.