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In the English speaking world, Masters degrees, commonly known as MAs, are   postgraduate degrees lasting at least one and sometimes two years, they are taught degrees normally requiring some original research.  MA is the most common name for a Masters degree and is often used even if the actual name is slightly different – people say they  have an MA Applied Linguistics even if the actual name of their qualification is MLitt or MPhil. Except in the US, where Applied Linguistics MAs are often done before a teaching career is started and include teaching practise or practicum, most MAs in the field of Applied Linguistics are designed for experienced teachers and other professionals and include the requirement for a written thesis.


Outside the US, any Masters degrees can only be awarded by universities recognised by the national government, though they can often be taught by institutions other than that university. In the US there is a complex system for accreditation.  Because of the number of “bogus” MA Tesols on the net the EL Gazette only lists Masters awarded by universities accepted by the national governments of the countries in which they are awarded.


MPhil  Master Of Philosophy. An MPhil is a research degree usually with a taught element and often lasts two years rather than one. Like all Masters, MPhil Applied linguistics are postgraduate degrees and you will normally need a good first degree and, if you are a non-native speaker of English, a high score in a language proficiency test such as IELTS or TOEFL. Because it is a research degree and always requires a thesis, some MPhil Applied Linguistics or Tesol may require a previous second degree such as an MA or and MEd. MPhil is a term commonly used at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, but the qualification is increasingly being offered by other universities to shoe their “MA Applied linguistics” or “ Tesol MA”, as Masters in these fields are generally known, is a research degree.