A guide to Integrated Masters degrees

An integrated masters degree could be the perfect choice if you want to study at university. To help with your decision here is a guide to integrated masters degrees.

What is an integrated masters degree? (integrated masters vs traditional msc)

An integrated masters breaks the mould of the traditional degree. An integrated masters combines different levels of study (for instance undergraduate and postgraduate elements) into a single course. This means you study for different levels and gain different qualifications while studying on one long programme.

So rather than studying two degrees you just complete one. You can simply enrol and complete one integrated course which begins at an undergraduate level but ends with a masters.

What has led to the change?

The landscape for studying in the UK is constantly evolving. Online and remote learning is going through a massive upsurge. Students can break free from on campus learning with the ability to study from anywhere in the world.

However, the demand for traditional qualifications has remained strong. Indeed, integrated masters have become an area of growth in the postgraduate world as more universities begin to offer flexibility and convenience rather than a rigid traditional postgrad course. It seems more students than ever are opting for an integrated masters rather than an ordinary degree.

Why study an integrated masters?

An integrated masters offers students more simplicity and flexibility. These types of programmes also have better outcomes in terms of the level of qualification awarded as they lead directly to a postgraduate award. They are also often seen as a two for one as they wrap two qualifications into one neat programme.

The programmes are taught in the same way as separate undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. When the student is awarded their degree all the completed modules are included. If they are unable for any reason to complete the full masters degree then the modules assessed will contribute to their overall qualification.

Many students enjoy the structure of an integrated programme. You get to study their final masters year with the same group of friends and staff that they have grown used to. You will transition from one level to the next. You continue to live on and enjoy the same campus and make use of all the facilities you have already experienced.

How long is an integrated masters degree?

An integrated masters take longer than a traditional degree programme. This is because it combines undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications into one longer course. An integrated masters degree usually lasts 4 years. If there is a period out in industry on placement then that can extend the overall duration up to five years.

What do employers think of integrated masters degrees?

Integrated masters appeal to employers as they deliver graduates who are qualified at a postgraduate level. Indeed, integrated masters programmes started because there was a lack of qualified engineers. As time has passed the need for postgraduate qualifications has grown, and with it the demand for integrated courses has soared.

How do you get funding for an integrated masters?

Funding an integrated masters is a simple process as you can get funding in the same way you can for a bachelor's programme. The only difference is that you need to obtain funding for the additional year. You will be eligible for tuition fee and maintenance loans that cover the whole programme (including the final masters year).

What subjects offer an integrated masters?

Most integrated masters courses are based in the STEM fields which cover science, technology, engineering and mathematics. These are often very focused vocational programmes which employers like. However, there is no standard guide to integrated masters degrees structure, and courses will vary from university to university.

If you are thinking about Engineering then this is a very popular integrated masters route. The MEng is usually a three year undergraduate course with the masters year qualification making up the final year. You will probably see MEng courses advertised at undergraduate level. This means that your application would go through UCAS rather than direct to the University.

Are there any drawbacks to an integrated masters?

The main drawback of integrated masters is that they require a long term commitment and don’t offer much flexibility within the programme as you are signed up for the long haul. Integrated masters courses are also not offered in every subject but are often based around STEM subjects.

Some say that an integrated masters can also be more stressful than an ordinary bachelors degree as you are under pressure earlier to achieve higher results. If you wish to obtain a PhD you may have to check with your university first as integrated masters are not always a set path to obtaining a PhD.

Can I take an integrated masters up to PhD level?

Yes you can. University Research Centres often advertise a '1+3' course. This comprises of a one year MRes qualification which leads on to the PhD course making up 4 years in total. This is usually linked to a research scholarship, and so funding is available to cover the tuition fees and other research costs.