Leaving out poor grade qualifications when applying for funded PhDs


Hi all, I'm currently studying an MSc (doing well) and hoping to apply for funded PhDs afterwards. As is often the case, almost every funded PhD insists on a minimum 2.2 or 2.1 degree pass (and/or Masters). I only managed a 3rd class Degree back in 1997 (personal reasons for bad grades). Immediately before this, I did a HNC with a distinction/merit. I hope to get similar grades on my MSc.

I'm now wondering if it might be an idea to leave off the Degree altogether. There are other people on my course that have never done a first degree and are there due to suitable work experience (I too have 15 yrs commercial experience). So perhaps I could just mention the HNC, work experience and MSc grade?


For every PhD I have applied for I have had to provide my degree transcript. I was also in employment for a number of years before starting a PhD. A good result in your MSc should hopefully make up for any poor results in your degree. Requirements and preferences can differ dependent on the funding source and University. My advice therefore is to email the supervisors before applying for PhDs and give a brief overview of your background so that they can advise further with regards to your application, I would always do this. Sometimes I have been able to submit industry references, other times they have all had to be academic ones.


You'll be fine if you've got an MSc. Everyone knows a 2.1 now is a 2.2. back in the 90s anyway!

You can't leave off the degree - aside from being deceptive and dishonest, it will look odd. I see what you're saying, that other people don't have one, but they might ask you about it in an interview, and then what would you do? You could leave off the grade, but that does look a bit suspicious too and they might ask you about it anyway.

I would leave it on there as is and see how you do with an MSc as a top up.

You can email supervisors, but I'm not really sure what difference this makes.


I agree with Treeoflife, it'll look odd if you leave it off. However don't undervalue your professional experience in these things. I've seen many jobs advertised asking for a particular degree "or equivalent experience"

As someone who came into her PhD with 12 years work experience, I'd suggest that it set me up a lot better than sitting in lectures and being able to regurgitate facts in exams.


Thanks for all the good advice guys.
What I tried to do on MSc applications is briefly mention my 3rd class result was due to personal reasons (which i was happy to elaborate on if asked) and highlighted my good grades in the HNC (including 100% in maths). As chantedsnicker said, I can probably highlight a LOT of good stuff from my commercial experience that I haven't done so much so far.

I still think there will be some admissions people who cannot see past a 3rd class degree, but I will just have to accept that and hope it is not too common if I apply to plenty of institutions.


Your old degree is irrelevant now in comparison with your current MSc. I would list the grade but I certainly wouldn't bring undue attention to it. It was well over 20 years ago now anyway.
I went through the same process. A 2:2 when I was younger and then a Masters when I hit my 40s which wiped that old degree out entirely.