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MRes Degrees: Know Your Options!

Updated: January 9, 2024 | Published: August 20, 2021

Updated: January 9, 2024

Published: August 20, 2021

MRes Degrees Exploring Your Options featured image

Thinking about going back to school and earning your degree? Perhaps you’ve considered an MRes degree, otherwise known as a Masters of Research. Deciding to pursue a masters degree is a big enough decision on its own, but having to figure out which degree to get — especially when tuition fees are at an all-time high — can be overwhelming. That’s why it’s crucial to do your “research” to see if this research degree is right for you!

What is an MRes Degree?

An MRes degree is a Master of Research. MRes is an abbreviation for Master of Research. You may also find this type of degree referred to as “MARes”, for a master’s in research focused on arts and humanities, or as “MScR” or “MScRes” for research degrees focused on science and technology.

While all higher education degrees require some level of research, this is a unique and rather rare post-graduate degree in which you develop your research skills, using the knowledge and tools you’ll gain from your program, to conduct thorough research and write a thesis. Typically, people do an MRes degree to prepare for a doctoral/PhD program or to apply it towards their current profession.

There’s a lot you can learn and experience while pursuing your MRes degree.

How Does it Differ From a Standard Master’s Degree?

In a standard master’s degree program, you would take certain courses/units to complete the amount of credits you need to take to complete your degree. Generally, you would take assessments and do projects/assignments for a grade in each of your courses. Then, when you’re done with your program, you’ll conduct a research project for your dissertation/thesis to demonstrate mastery in your area.

But, in an MRes program, you’ll skip the formal courses (albeit maybe a few courses), and jump right into researching the topic of your choice. You’ll typically do this with the support of a supervisor who can guide you through the process.

A Master of Research — unlike a typical master’s program — is more self-guided and self-taught, which means you’ll have to be very disciplined to get it done. After all, you won’t have professors over your shoulder making sure you get through each step of the program.

How Long is an MRes Degree?

An MRes degree program takes about one year, whereas the standard master’s program is two years and 180 credits.

How are You Assessed?

Your research project or your thesis is very similar to a dissertation in another master’s program. Except, in a typical master’s program, the word count would be about 12,500, but in a MRes, it can be more than 35,000 words, according to Find a Masters.

This could include multiple research projects in order to demonstrate not just expertise in your subject area, but that you’ve understood the discipline of research in itself. You’ll have to present/argue your research, and you’ll be judged by professors. Though the judgment may not be as rigid as that in a PhD, you’ll need to work hard!

Source: Pixabay

Why Get an MRes Degree?

There are many reasons why a student would want to pursue an MRes degree, but the most common are:

  • An opportunity to see if pursuing a doctorate is the right path for you. An MRes degree can serve as a bridge to that.
  • For those that are passionate about research and pursuing their own research project, this program doesn’t have the same regiment as a typical master’s degree program.
  • For those who want more flexibility and want to work on their own schedule, an MRes degree can be ideal.
  • It often costs less money and takes less time than a regular master’s degree.

Who Should Study an MRes Degree?

Choosing which master’s degree to study can be a hard decision all on its own. Studying an MRes degree is not for everyone. Those who pursue this type of degree (especially over a typical master’s degree) will need to have several qualities and soft skills. They’ll need to be self-motivated, hardworking, determined, disciplined, and able to juggle the demands of many different things at once.

Additionally, a person who studies an MRes degree should have a specific interest in a given niche. Perhaps they have some background in this area, or they work in it already. Regardless, the candidate needs to have some incentive to research this area in such depth.

How To Apply for a MRes Degree

In order to apply for an MRes degree, you’ll first have to first meet the requirements of that school. While these can differ from one school to the next, in general you’ll need:

  • A completed bachelor’s or master’s degree
  • A good GPA (at least an 80%)
  • Academic CV
  • Transcripts
  • Proof of citizenship or residency
  • Relevant work experience
  • Recommendation letter(s)
  • A research proposal

Always look at what the school requires for your application and deadlines, to ensure you gather all the materials ahead of time.

Writing a Research Proposal

A major part of applying for your MRes degree is writing a research proposal. As you won’t be applying to a program with set coursework, you’re essentially creating your own master’s program. This involves writing a research proposal.

The research proposal is part of what’s going to determine your acceptance to the program when you apply. This is where you talk about what you’re going to research and what the purpose of that research is, though you may have to highlight some other points as well depending on the school’s requirements.

In order to get help with your research proposal, it might be worth it to consider reaching out to a professor that teaches in your prospective area of research at the school you’re applying to. Provide this person with an abstract of your research proposal to see if they can help you tighten it up to make a strong case for your candidacy in the program.

Source: Pixabay

Should I Study an MRes Degree?

An MRes degree is different from a standard master’s degree, but if you like to march to your own drum, study at your own pace, and research something in depth that really piques your interest, then a master’s in research may be right for you.

Also, if you’re thinking about pursuing your PhD later on but want to see how you feel about doing all this research first, then that’s another reason that studying an MRes degree could be the path you want to go down.

Where Can I Study an MRes Degree?

There are many schools around the world that offer MRes degree programs, but the majority of them are based in Australia and the United Kingdom. Yet, because the majority of programs are self-conducted, most will be physically based in the university, but the majority of your work can be done at a distance. You may have to check-in with your supervisor in person and/or attend a seminar type of class.

Tuition Fees for an MRes Degree

The tuition fees for an MRes degree are generally more affordable than that of a standard master’s degree, ranging from $5,000 to $12,000 a year. This could be another motivation to choose this program over other master’s programs, if money is a barrier for you.

And, if money is a barrier and you want to study a standard master’s degree, the University of the People could be your best bet! We’re not only the first accredited institution of higher education in the United States, with our programs held entirely online, we’re also entirely tuition-free.