Master's degree mark importance compared to undergraduate Watch

hassassin04
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I was looking a bit on forums here and there and quite a few people seem to assert that master's marks are not so significantly important, is it the case? Just comparing to undegrads- anything below 2.1 is really considered bad, is there a corresponding thing for master's? Is pass "bad", like below 2.1 for bachelors ?
In particular for science subjects if that matters. Say maths.
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infairverona
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(Original post by hassassin04)
I was looking a bit on forums here and there and quite a few people seem to assert that master's marks are not so significantly important, is it the case? Just comparing to undegrads- anything below 2.1 is really considered bad, is there a corresponding thing for master's? Is pass "bad", like below 2.1 for bachelors ?
In particular for science subjects if that matters. Say maths.
Not important for what? It depends why you're doing it. If you want to go into a PhD or something or a job which requires a postgrad level of education, it is probably important. if you're just doing it for yourself, to enhance your CV when you work in an area that doesn't require it, it doesn't matter.

I work in the NHS/DoH and my old manager did a HR management masters just to pass it. Nobody cared what grade he got, but when he wanted the higher up jobs they said you need a level of postgrad education. So it didn't matter what grade he had, but just that he HAD it was enough. Depends a) why you're doing it and b) what you intend to use it for.
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hassassin04
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(Original post by infairverona)
Not important for what? It depends why you're doing it. If you want to go into a PhD or something or a job which requires a postgrad level of education, it is probably important. if you're just doing it for yourself, to enhance your CV when you work in an area that doesn't require it, it doesn't matter.

I work in the NHS/DoH and my old manager did a HR management masters just to pass it. Nobody cared what grade he got, but when he wanted the higher up jobs they said you need a level of postgrad education. So it didn't matter what grade he had, but just that he HAD it was enough. Depends a) why you're doing it and b) what you intend to use it for.
What I meant is that if suppose one applies for a job that requires master's, what mark do they usually expect from an applicant?Most regular jobs want just 2.1 for undergrads
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infairverona
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(Original post by hassassin04)
What I meant is that if suppose one applies for a job that requires master's, what mark do they usually expect from an applicant?Most regular jobs want just 2.1 for undergrads
Does it not say in the job description what master's grade they want? If they want a 2.1 in undergrad I would imagine they would want a merit in postgrad unless it just says pass
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hassassin04
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(Original post by infairverona)
Does it not say in the job description what master's grade they want? If they want a 2.1 in undergrad I would imagine they would want a merit in postgrad unless it just says pass
I have never seen a job requiring master's to be honest. Not that I have been looking for jobs at all at the moment. So would you put 2.1 on a par with merit?
Basically the point of my question is to know if I should try really hard not to get just pass.
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infairverona
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(Original post by hassassin04)
I have never seen a job requiring master's to be honest. Not that I have been looking for jobs at all at the moment. So would you put 2.1 on a par with merit?
Basically the point of my question is to know if I should try really hard not to get just pass.
I have seen some specialist jobs requiring it but I don't think jobs commonly ask for one. I would assume that merit is the postgrad version of 2.1 because the only higher grade is distinction which would be like getting a first.

I doubt any jobs will care if you have got a pass or not but why bother doing a master's and aiming just for a pass? I guess it depends why you're doing one and who has funded it etc. I got a 2.1 in my degree and I feel like getting a distinction in my MA would give my CV more of an edge, I am aiming for straight distinctions and no merits or lower (but haven't had an assessment yet so possibly too optimistic!) also funding it myself so don't want to waste 10k on just a pass
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hassassin04
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(Original post by infairverona)
I have seen some specialist jobs requiring it but I don't think jobs commonly ask for one. I would assume that merit is the postgrad version of 2.1 because the only higher grade is distinction which would be like getting a first.

I doubt any jobs will care if you have got a pass or not but why bother doing a master's and aiming just for a pass? I guess it depends why you're doing one and who has funded it etc. I got a 2.1 in my degree and I feel like getting a distinction in my MA would give my CV more of an edge, I am aiming for straight distinctions and no merits or lower (but haven't had an assessment yet so possibly too optimistic!) also funding it myself so don't want to waste 10k on just a pass
I will aim high of course , just curious what is the borderline I should try not to cross. I simply heard that getting a disctintion is a lot harder than first so I assumed that merit should be harder than 2.1 and so pass may be regarded as OK :P
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infairverona
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(Original post by hassassin04)
I will aim high of course , just curious what is the borderline I should try not to cross. I simply heard that getting a disctintion is a lot harder than first so I assumed that merit should be harder than 2.1 and so pass may be regarded as OK :P
Well like I said it depends what you want out of it! I'm sure just having a master's on your CV will look good but obviously it looks better to say merit or distinction. I wouldn't think about what's the lowest 'acceptable' grade, just aim high and see what happens
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Baron of Sealand
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Except in a doctorate application, no-one asks about your marks in your master's. Literally no-one cares.

Not that many people have a master's degree, and many courses are fail, pass, or distinction, with very few people getting a distinction. There probably also are a lot more people who fail/drop out of a master's course compared to people failing and dropping out of a bachelor's degree.
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Klix88
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If you're looking at a PhD, then depending on your field, the Masters result can be critical. PhD funding in my field is rare as hen's teeth - if you have anything less than a First/Distinction combo, you won't even be long-listed for funding. STEM subjects are a bit more forgiving than Humanities though, so you may not find that with maths (depending on the uni).

But I've never come across a job which specifies a particular Masters grade. In my field, I've never seen a job which specifies a Masters, full stop.
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infairverona
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(Original post by Little Toy Gun)
Except in a doctorate application, no-one asks about your marks in your master's. Literally no-one cares.

Not that many people have a master's degree, and many courses are fail, pass, or distinction, with very few people getting a distinction. There probably also are a lot more people who fail/drop out of a master's course compared to people failing and dropping out of a bachelor's degree.
Really? This is not reassuring
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Klix88
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(Original post by Little Toy Gun)
There probably also are a lot more people who fail/drop out of a master's course compared to people failing and dropping out of a bachelor's degree.
At the moment, I don't think this is the case. There's no central funding for Masters degrees and postgrad funding centres on PhDs, so the vast majority of Masters students are self-funding. It's difficult to walk away from a course which has directly cost thousands of pounds of your own money, which might have taken years to save up. Walking out of an undergrad degree, you just have to repay a loan to Student Finance. It's money which was never yours to begin with - you didn't do anything to earn it other than turning up at uni.

There were around 120 students in my wider Masters year and nobody failed or dropped out.
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Baron of Sealand
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(Original post by Klix88)
At the moment, I don't think this is the case. There's no central funding for Masters degrees and postgrad funding centres on PhDs, so the vast majority of Masters students are self-funding. It's difficult to walk away from a course which has directly cost thousands of pounds of your own money, which might have taken years to save up. Walking out of an undergrad degree, you just have to repay a loan to Student Finance. It's money which was never yours to begin with - you didn't do anything to earn it other than turning up at uni.

There were around 120 students in my wider Masters year and nobody failed or dropped out.
I'm sure different universities have different rates, but from the data I've seen at Oxford, drop-out or failing rates are higher for master's than for undergraduate courses (which is at 2% and the second-lowest in the UK).

Your reasoning is absurd. Just because you have paid a lot of money doesn't mean you won't fail it. There also are a lot more people who walked out of a master's course because it's challenging, and fewer undergraduates who do.

Your reasons for refusing to believe the facts are irrelevant - logically people would also be more willing to walk out of a master's course because you don't need a master's to find a good job, but you most definitely need an undergraduate degree to find a good job, so the stakes are actually much higher. Not to mention prospective employers will not see a failing master's as bad as a failing bachelor's (which is less challenging). As for money, you actually pay more for an undergraduate degree than for a master's course. You do have the loan if you're from the UK, but you're acting like you don't have to pay it back. This is without considering the time and effort you have put into it - dropping out in your final undergraduate year, and you have wasted two to almost five years of your life; dropping out of your master's, perhaps a few months. With the latter, you can easily explain the gap away and hide it away from prospective employers, but you cannot do it with an undergraduate degree.
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Baron of Sealand
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(Original post by infairverona)
Really? This is not reassuring
It should be expected. Apart from the reasons I've stated in my post above, if literally everyone passes a master's and very few get a distinction, then how do people differentiate? Fewer people have a master's, but it's not that few.

For undergraduate degrees, almost everyone passes it which is why they have to have so many classes - this is essentially how nowadays a GCSE below grade C is considered a 'fail' by some.
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infairverona
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(Original post by Little Toy Gun)
It should be expected. Apart from the reasons I've stated in my post above, if literally everyone passes a master's and very few get a distinction, then how do people differentiate? Fewer people have a master's, but it's not that few.

For undergraduate degrees, almost everyone passes it which is why they have to have so many classes - this is essentially how nowadays a GCSE below grade C is considered a 'fail' by some.
Isn't there only one extra class for an undergrad? pass, 2.2, 2.1, first...compared to pass, merit, distinction? I get your point though. I noticed that the pass grade on my course is 50% so straight away even just passing is harder as well as obviously needing to produce higher level work. Will just have to hope I'm not one of the failures you speak of
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(Original post by infairverona)
Isn't there only one extra class for an undergrad? pass, 2.2, 2.1, first...compared to pass, merit, distinction? I get your point though. I noticed that the pass grade on my course is 50% so straight away even just passing is harder as well as obviously needing to produce higher level work. Will just have to hope I'm not one of the failures you speak of
No.

Undergrad:
(Starred first/Double first)
First
2:1
2:2
3 (passed with honours)
(4)/Pass (ordinary degree)
Fail

Master:
Distinction
(Merit/Unofficial high pass)
Pass
Fail

So 6/7 classes versus 3/4. This is without mentioning the fact that people would also ask for a 'high 2:1' but rarely a 'high pass' for a master's. I believe all masters also have a dissertation, which is not the case for bachelors, and the dissertation component must be passed instead of just the overall average passing. Similar things like this exist only in master's courses or professional bachelor's degrees (medicine, education) - some courses require candidates to pass all examinations but not just with the overall average. Also, just basing this on Oxford, I think the University gives undergraduates more opportunities to retake.

Yes, it was 50% for me, too. Don't know if it's the same for all universities.
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infairverona
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(Original post by Little Toy Gun)
No.

Undergrad:
(Starred first/Double first)
First
2:1
2:2
3 (passed with honours)
(4)/Pass (ordinary degree)
Fail

Master:
Distinction
(Merit/Unofficial high pass)
Pass
Fail

So 6/7 classes versus 3/4. This is without mentioning the fact that people would also ask for a 'high 2:1' but rarely a 'high pass' for a master's. I believe all masters also have a dissertation, which is not the case for bachelors, and the dissertation component must be passed instead of just the overall average passing. Similar things like this exist only in master's courses or professional bachelor's degrees (medicine, education) - some courses require candidates to pass all examinations but not just with the overall average. Also, just basing this on Oxford, I think the University gives undergraduates more opportunities to retake.

Yes, it was 50% for me, too. Don't know if it's the same for all universities.
Ok I've never heard of anyone from my undergrad uni getting those extra classifications. I guess I hadn't thought about the dissertation or passing overall thing. At my uni we had to take a dissertation and we couldn't pass overall, we had to pass everything and not just every module but every piece of assessment. Maybe it won't be too much of a difference then (just working to a higher level)
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Baron of Sealand
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(Original post by infairverona)
Ok I've never heard of anyone from my undergrad uni getting those extra classifications. I guess I hadn't thought about the dissertation or passing overall thing. At my uni we had to take a dissertation and we couldn't pass overall, we had to pass everything and not just every module but every piece of assessment. Maybe it won't be too much of a difference then (just working to a higher level)
So you see how more difficult it is to fail an undergraduate degree. It's difficult to even get a third.
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Liv1204
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Whilst it does depend what you're intending to do after a Masters (the particular pass mark may well be considered more for a PhD if they ask to see your transcript, for example, or I guess for some particularly prestigious jobs), the advice of my MSc lecturers/supervisors has on the whole been that at Masters level it's not too important whether you get a Merit or a Distinction, at least.

Again, that is just general advice and based on anecdotal evidence. But I cried my heart out when I 'only' got a Merit, rather than the Distinction that I should have got - at my university to get a Distinction you needed to get As in 4 out of 6 modules and an A in the dissertation, I got 4 As but 65 rather than the 70 I needed in my dissertation (with my marks dropping slightly in my final assignment when I let my stupid anorexia take over), and my supervisor/course leader's advice was that because universities classify Masters degrees in different ways (for example, some don't have Merits at all, or simply have pass/fail), that most employers will just take into account having a Masters degree. Her next piece of advice was that with PhDs etc, they should look at the overall transcript - so in my case they would see that my marks had been consistently high, until the slight drop towards the end which could be easily explained, and her recommendation was that if they didn't take that all into account and saw it as an issue, then she would recommend not wanting to work with a supervisor/employer like that anyway.

This is completely anecdotal and based on personal experience alone, of course. But in my area certainly, the grade at MSc level is not the be-all and end-all.
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hassassin04
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(Original post by Liv1204)
Whilst it does depend what you're intending to do after a Masters (the particular pass mark may well be considered more for a PhD if they ask to see your transcript, for example, or I guess for some particularly prestigious jobs), the advice of my MSc lecturers/supervisors has on the whole been that at Masters level it's not too important whether you get a Merit or a Distinction, at least.

Again, that is just general advice and based on anecdotal evidence. But I cried my heart out when I 'only' got a Merit, rather than the Distinction that I should have got - at my university to get a Distinction you needed to get As in 4 out of 6 modules and an A in the dissertation, I got 4 As but 65 rather than the 70 I needed in my dissertation (with my marks dropping slightly in my final assignment when I let my stupid anorexia take over), and my supervisor/course leader's advice was that because universities classify Masters degrees in different ways (for example, some don't have Merits at all, or simply have pass/fail), that most employers will just take into account having a Masters degree. Her next piece of advice was that with PhDs etc, they should look at the overall transcript - so in my case they would see that my marks had been consistently high, until the slight drop towards the end which could be easily explained, and her recommendation was that if they didn't take that all into account and saw it as an issue, then she would recommend not wanting to work with a supervisor/employer like that anyway.

This is completely anecdotal and based on personal experience alone, of course. But in my area certainly, the grade at MSc level is not the be-all and end-all.
Thanks for your input!
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