Is an MA easier than undergraduate degree?


I hope this post doesn't offend all those people working hard on their MAs. It has occurred to me that the grades in my uni where I'm studying for my master's seem a lot higher than they used to at undergrad level. I am however studying a different subject, my degree was in economics which perhaps may have a lower average than my current subject. It could of course be that master's students work a lot harder than undergrads, postgrads generally appear to be long past the partying phase of uni, this is bound to have an upward trend on grades. What do other people out there think?


Hey! I think a number of things can influence this. One thing I noticed is that a much higher proportion of people got a distinction on the MSc course than got a first at undergrad level on my course, even though the boundary is 70% for both degrees. I certainly don't think the MSc was easier than my BSc- I think part of the issue is that by the time you get to MSc level you have lost most people who got less than a 2.1 in their first degree, and you are also left with people who are genuinely interested and enthusiastic about their subject, so probably put more work into it. I got a first for my BSc and then a distinction for my MSc, but I wasn't that excited about the distinction because quite a lot of people got one, so I didn't really feel quite as proud as I was of the first, which I still feel sets me apart from other people more than the distinction does when it comes to applications and CVs etc. I imagine different people have different experiences though, it might depend a bit on the subject and university. Best, KB


In my Masters course I was the first person for a very long time to get a distinction, so it seems to have been very difficult, even though the other people had excellent undergraduate results.


My Masters definitely felt a lot harder than my undergraduate - I got a first for my undergraduate degree with a moderate amount of hard work, but I felt like I had to work more than twice as hard to get the same high results on my Masters. On the other hand, it may have just felt like I was working harder because there is so much more work to fit into a year-long Masters course than there is in a typical undergraduate year :)


I think I have a different opinion than the others. I found my under-graduate (education) more difficult than my MA (special needs) as during my firts degree I had so many different things to study that I was confused (I had to study 58 different modules during my 4-year-course). During my MA I had to study 2 things per semester, so it was kind of more focused and therfore easier for me. Even the dissertation seemed easier, because I knew what I wanted to do from the time I decided what to study, so had my dissertaion finished by Christmas!!!
Well, the fact that my first degree was not in UK couls also have played an important role, but that's my experience


======= Date Modified 27 Feb 2010 13:14:48 =======
There are a lot of interesting points in the replies to this post.

M_heneghan - you are asking two different questions I think.

"Is an MA easier than an undergraduate degree?" - Mine was an MSc (and my UG a BSc) not MA and BA, but speaking to others I have found my experience replicated - that the volume of work and the intesnity of a masters degree is so much higher than for an undergraduate degree. I would say, then, that an MSc is not easier than an undergraduate degree.

That "the grades in my uni where I'm studying for my master's seem a lot higher than they used to at undergrad level" is, I think, more likely related to some of the points made below, about students on PG degrees being more self-selected and harder-working than at UG level, and as you said "past the partying phase", so they work harder, and hence get higher grades despite the work being harder. I don't think the standards at PG level are lower, because I do know of individuals who took a lackadaisical approach to their MScs, and didn't pass.



My MSc was definitely a LOT harder than undergraduate degree - and I did a four year undergrad degree (MMath).

And I always say it was also a lot harder and more timeconsuming than my PhD.

I've not really met anyone who has said that they found a masters easier than an undergrad, but maybe it's different for 'hard' sciences? I don't know.


======= Date Modified 28 Feb 2010 17:42:21 =======
Well DanB,
I guess you've found the first person!!! I found my 4-year undergrad much more difficult than my master (BEd and MA).
But I am talking about different countries (Greece for the BEd and Uk for the MA) and different systems....


======= Date Modified 06 Mar 2010 14:28:22 =======
I would say that the MA is harder, but easier to do well in. Does that make sense? I found it easier to get A grades at MA level than undergrad level. It's more time consuming though, and a lot more work.

Avatar for Pjlu

Hi M-Heneghan,

Ive wondered this at times. But my own experience is that I received very high grades for both undergraduate and then post graduate qualifications and courses to date. You do have the advantage of not having to focus your attention over a wide variety of subjects in post graduate work, plus you are usually working in an area that (initially at least) you were passionate about or interested in. You are also usually far more experienced so more efficient-so that might be why grades seem easier to achieve. What I have found harder is sustaining the intensity, when really all of the drive and motivation has to come from within and once you are past that initial hurdle-no one really seems to care whether you reach your goal posts or not.

Those issues make the Master's thesis harder (but not so much the coursework-that was all fine). And when you come to the point in your thesis when you see it as a piece of work that you need to complete and shape and rewrite and not this 'magic' talisman that makes you special or something.


I obtained my BA over 5 years ago and find that the work on the Masters course is harder, Its a lot more in-depth and intense. However, Its easier in my understanding and I really enjoy it. I graduated over 5 years ago and feel my grasp for learning and processing information has changed for the better. Therfore I expect to get higher grades at MA level.(hopefully)


The MA is a more personalized experience so if you study something you really like and passionate about then it's easier to stay motivated and comitted.