Difference Between Taught and Research Masters

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Difference Between Taught and Research Masters

Students are confused after completing their graduation whether to work or pursue higher education. A master’s degree has numerous advantages including personal development, gaining in-depth knowledge and skills. It is important to choose the master’s program which is most suitable for students. In this blog, we will explore the main differences between Taught Masters and Research Masters.

Also Read: Bachelors vs Masters Abroad

Major Differences Between Taught Masters and Research Masters 

Taught Masters and Research masters both help students to become an expert in the area of their difference but still different from each other. The table given below explains the difference in detail: 

Basis of DifferentiationTaught MastersResearch Masters
CourseworkSimilar to undergraduate programs, which include lectures, seminars, and lab lessonsIt includes a thesis or a research portfolio
Duration of the courseFull time taught masters usually last for 12 months or also up to 24 months, but part-time is also availableFull-Time Research Master’s usually last for 18 months, but it can also go up to 36 months. Part-time is also available
Assessment Through examinations, dissertations, and group projectsThrough the professional judgment of project work and oral exams relating to the research work
ProgramsMBA, MA, MSCMPhil, MRes, MA by Research, MSc by Research

What is Taught Master?

Taught masters is quite similar to an undergraduate program. It includes a number of modules wherein students get the opportunity to learn through a series of lectures, seminars, workshops, and lab work. However, compared to an undergraduate degree, here students are expected to present and lead group seminars. The students get the chance to study and research independently. Students will also get the required guidance and support from their professors and lecturers. 

What is a Research Master?

As compared to taught masters, research masters is much more independent in nature and more suited for students who wish to opt for PhD later. In Research Masters, there will be very few lectures or seminars and is more focused on conducting research independently with the occasional support of a guide or supervisor. students also get the opportunity to efficiently manage their workload and studies and they can choose to focus on a topic of their choice. 


The main difference between Taught and Research Masters is the coursework involved in each of these programs. While Taught Masters is quite similar to undergraduate programs, Research Masters involves a more independent approach towards research. 

Students who undertake taught masters have to attend a series of lectures, seminars, workshops, and lab work. Here students also get the chance to choose from a wide variety of courses since almost every subject can be studied under taught masters. It follows similar coursework to an undergraduate program, it is an easier transition for students who want to pursue their higher studies in a specific field. Basically, taught master courses are very useful for gaining more advanced knowledge in various subjects. 

On the other hand, students who go for research master courses are generally the ones who want to pursue their PhD. Here students get the opportunity to take up a research topic of their choice and they will be occasionally guided with the help of an experienced supervisor. Research Masters involves spending time on collecting and analyzing data and information on the chosen research topic. This information has to be very well structured and written in order for it to be accepted for publication in renowned research journals. Here, students are not burdened by multiple lectures and seminars. Students have freedom in managing their workload and studies. 

Another major difference between taught and research masters is the assessment. Under taught masters, students are assessed on the basis of examination, coursework, group projects, dissertations. On the contrary, under research masters, students are evaluated on the basis of dissertations and the occasional exams or marked essays. The main form of assessment involves a professional judgment of the research work and an oral exam related to the research project. 

Also Read: 1 Year Masters Programs in Canada


Taught masters can be usually completed within a period of 12 months provided it is full-time. However, in the case of part-time, Taught masters are completed within 24 months. 

When it comes to research masters, it usually takes much longer to complete owing to the amount of research work involved. Research masters can be completed within 1-2 years or even more, depending on whether it’s full-time or part-time. Research Masters courses can also last 36 months. 


Both the programs have their own unique set of features and courses, it is important for students to understand which program would be more suitable for their needs. Here are few points that will help you decide if taught master courses is more suitable for you:

  • Enjoy attending lectures and seminars. It is also suitable for those students who are interested in studying a variety of subjects
  • Students who have done well on their bachelor’s degree and want to complete their higher studies within a short span of time
  • Students that wish to enhance their skills-sets broadly
  • Students that enjoy frequent contact with their peers and professors
  • Lastly, students who want to improve their employability by enhancing their knowledge in a wide variety of subjects

Here are few points that will help you decide if research master courses are more suitable for you:

  • Students who want to gain entry into a research-based career
  • Students that are focused on a single subject matter
  • Students who want to pursue PhD or gain a better understanding of PhD studies
  • Students that enjoy studying and researching independently

Also Read: Masters in Entrepreneurship and Innovation


Another significant difference between Taught and Research Masters is the type of programs or courses offered. Here is the list of popular programs under-taught and research level masters:

Taught Masters Programs:

  • Master of Arts (MA)
  • Master of Science (MSc)
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA)

Research Masters Programs:

  • Master of Philosophy (MPhil)
  • Master of Research ( MRes)
  • Master of Arts (MA by Research)
  • Master of Science (MSc by Research)

Taught Masters vs Research Masters: Which One is Better?

While it can be difficult to choose a master’s program most suitable for you. It is important for students to pick the one that can help them personally as well as professionally. There is no better or best, but a matter of which is more suited to your needs. While a Taught Master would be more preferable for students who want to focus on a particular career goal and wish to gain a wider range of skills and knowledge. For those who wish to enter into a world of academics and research, a research master’s is more preferable. 

It all depends on the field that the students are interested in. Nevertheless, obtaining master’s courses from a recognized and reputed institution is quite crucial for students because it opens up excellent opportunities for them.

We hope through this blog, you have gained a better understanding of the differences between a Taught Masters and Research Masters. Each program has its own distinct advantages and features. If you’re planning to pursue your higher studies but are still confused about top universities and the application process, reach out to experts at Leverage Edu to clear your doubts and queries. 

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