When looking at postgraduate programs, you will probably encounter a number of unfamiliar terms. The process is complicated even further by the fact that these terms differ per region. In this section, we will give you an overview of the more common terminology.
Graduate or postgraduate?
Different terminology is used in different regions for types of education and degrees beyond a Bachelor's.
Graduate school is a term mainly used in the United States and Canada, whereas postgraduate education is the more popular term in the UK and its former colonies (except for Canada). For the purposes of this guide we have used these terms interchangeably.

Additionally, in the US a distinction is made between graduate schools (regular academic institutions) and professional schools (law school, business school and sometimes medical school); the term graduate program encompasses both of these school types.

Within the graduate level, there is a distinction between the Master's level and the doctorate level (PhD).
At the end of your UCR career, you will receive your well-deserved diploma! But which kind will you exactly receive? This depends on your major department. At UCR, Science and Engineering students receive a Bachelor of Science (BSc). You will also receive a BSc if you are an Interdepartmental major in Science and Engineering. Social Science students, Arts & Humanities students, and any other Interdepartmental students receive a Bachelor of Arts (BA).

These two Bachelor's degrees have their equivalent at the Master's level: Master of Arts (MA) and Master of Science (MSc). Very occasionally you also have Master of Social Science. Some tracks falling under "Arts" at the bachelor's level are classified as "Science" at the graduate level, for instance Geography. Whether you can use a BA for admittance at an MSc, and the other way around, depends on the program. If you are not sure about this, look at the program's requirements listed on their website and/or contact the university directly to ask.

In addition to the MA and the MSc, there are a lot of other Master's level degrees. Examples include the Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Public Administration (MPA), Master of Fine Arts (MFA), or Master of Music (MM).

Additionally, there is the Master of Philosophy (MPhil), which falls roughly in between a regular Master's and a doctorate degree. In the US, it is awarded to doctorate students who have completed all coursework but have not defended their dissertation. In the UK it is a degree with a program that requires two years of full-time study and a written thesis. Because it is focused on research, there is often an enhanced focus on methodology. Some students enroll in an MPhil program after already having completed another graduate program, while others enroll directly after their Bachelor's. Typically, MPhil students continue studying toward a doctorate degree after they complete their program.

There is also a difference between a regular Master (MA/MSc) program and a Research Master (MRes) program. As the name suggests, a MRes contains fewer teaching modules and focuses more on the research component. It gives you a better taste of what a PhD and a career in research are like. If you are interested in either of these paths, then a MRes is worth looking into. MRes programs are often two years instead of one year for a regular master.

There is only one degree at this level: a Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD/Ph.D/DPhil). Philosophy in this case refers to the original meaning of the word, namely "love of wisdom", not the academic discipline as we know it nowadays. People who hold this degree are referred to as a doctor (Dr.). Requirements for a PhD vary from country to country, but a doctorate program takes several years to complete pretty much everywhere. The main goal of a doctorate is to create your own new research within your field.

Most students are required to do a Master's before they are admitted to a doctorate-level program, but there are exceptions. Technically, it is possible to go directly from the Bachelor's to the doctorate level. This is more the norm in North-America (especially the United States) than in Europe. Whether it is possible for you, however, depends on your field of study and graduate university.