A master’s degree (MD, MS or MCh, MSc, MPhil etc.) and postgraduate diploma in the UK or abroad can help you to pursue a career in medicine (i.e. as a doctor) or pursue an alternative in another aspect like research or academics. There is a whole range of specialisms within the area of medicine and healthcare, which can be surgical, clinical or related to a specific area of illness or disease.

How can I do an MD/MS degree in the UK?
What about a postgraduate diploma or Master of Science (MSc) degree?
How much it can cost?
I heard I can do it without PLAB?
Do I need to appear in IELTS/OET?

Postgraduate degree vs Postgraduate training

This is a confusion for many and it needs to be cleared first.

Types of master’s degree

Broadly MD/MS i.e master’s in the UK can be divided into two groups:

  • Taught
  • Research

Taught Master’s

Taught Master’s degrees will usually take a very similar format to your undergraduate degree (Bachelor’s degree like MBBS). They will consist of a set of modules in each term – some core, some optional – taught via seminars, lectures or lab sessions. It may include continuous assessment, examinations and the final assessment for a masters degree is often based on the submission of a dissertation.

Examples include the Master of Science/ Clinical Masters (MSc), Doctor of Medicine (MD) as well as shorter Postgraduate Diplomas in various subjects.

Research Master’s

Research master’s degrees, on the other hand, are much more independent. They have very little or no timetabled hours, instead involving one or more extended research projects which you yourself will bring to fruition. You will be paired with a specialized supervisor who will guide you throughout your degree while you undertake your work.

Examples include the Research Master’s (MRes) and Master of Philosophy (MPhil) in various subjects.

Where does a Master’s Degree stand in my career?

A master’s degree is an academic addition after your undergraduate degree which was probably your primary medical qualification (e.g. MBBS). It can be a 1 year or 2 year, full time or part time course/program in the UK under different universities. It adds to your CV an extra academic degree which shows your keen interest in that field. Also a successful degree makes you more knowledgeable and helps you to pursue further in your career as a doctor or find an alternative career like medical research or PhD in that field.

One thing needs to be clarified.

This postgraduate master’s degree is NOT an alternative to your training in a specific field. Training is a long winding road, and truth be told there is no shortcut in it. A postgraduate qualification like a master’s degree or a PhD may not only help your career in the UK, but also it can give you a boost in your career back home.

How does a Master’s degree help in my career in the UK?

A postgraduate degree adds points to your Core/Specialty Training application.

And other than this, as mentioned earlier, it shows your enthusiasm about that field and helps your CV in the interviews for your desired specialty training.

To know further about the training structure in the UK, read Overview of Specialty (or GP) training in the UK.

How can a Master’s degree (MD/MS) in the UK help in my home country?

Medical education is generally monitored by the respective medical councils of the respective countries. Now it depends on your country’s medical council whether your master’s degree (MD/MS) or PG diploma obtained in the UK will be accepted or not. If it is accepted, then depending on the laws of the land, it can help you in your career back home.

Bangladesh

As for Bangladesh, the following post graduate degrees are accepted from different universities of the United Kingdom.

  • Doctor of Medicine (MD)
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
  • Master of Surgery (MS)
  • Master of Science (MSc)
  • Master of Philosophy (MPhil)
  • Diploma in-
    • Public Health
    • Psychiatric medicine
    • Ophthalmology
    • Laryngology and Otology
    • Industrial Hygiene
    • Pathology
    • Bacteriology
    • Ophthalmic medicine & Surgery
    • Medical radiodiagnosis
    • Medical radiotherapy
    • Child health
    • Physical medicine
    • Tropical Public health
    • Anaesthesia

But, if your degree is not in this list that doesn’t mean it is the end of story. You can make application to get it approved. Please read the laws here.

India

Medical Council of India (MCI) has a long list of recognized medical qualifications. All can be found in the links below.

Pakistan

Pakistan Medical And Dental Council (PMDC) recognizes the following postgraduate qualifications awarded in the United Kingdom.

As I mentioned, all of these medical councils have their own lists, but they do allow for an option to accept qualifications which aren’t listed by submitting the proper application and presenting the required proof.

As for other countries, I suggest contacting your own medical council to gather more information about the postgraduate qualifications obtained abroad.

Funding for the master’s degree

This is the most important part of postgraduate master’s degree. As I’ve mentioned earlier, there is a misconception between  a master’s degree and specialty training; they ARE NOT similar or equivalent. Quite often the question arises- how much does specialty training cost? Nothing. On the contrary, you are paid, and paid well at that. In regards to courses for master’s degree, however, there is a hefty price.

For example, a 2 year full time Clinical MD course in General Internal Medicine from the University of Buckingham costs £58,140. A one year MPhil in areas of medicine from the University of Dundee costs £15,000-£27,000 (depending on the area of research). (Source: postgrad.com)

If you are able to cover these costs, well and good, but there are also options for scholarships and bursaries. Broadly the scholarships can be classified in two categories:

  • Scholarship by an organization
  • Scholarship by an individual

Scholarship by Organization

First of all, the university that you’re applying to may have scholarships which you may be eligible for. So that needs googling and contacting the appropriate authorities.

There are dedicated organizations like:

  • Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan (CSFP)
  • Erasmus Mundus

To obtain such a scholarship, you may need to fulfill some criteria and gather relevant documents which can also be found by searching in the internet or asking in the relevant groups in the social media.

There are organisations which may help you find a scholarship. Read more about Trialect here.

Scholarship by an individual

It will involve you convincing the professor of that department in that university where you want to do the master’s. You are more likely to get scholarships in research master’s this way than taught master’s.

Other than this, for this Master’s degree or diploma you will be awarded a Tier 4 student visa, in which you can work for limited hours per week and also later you can switch to Tier 2 (work visa) when you made yourself eligible to get a job.

Entry Requirements

I have seen some catchy clickbaits like ‘MD without PLAB’, ‘UK master’s without PLAB’. As the courses cost a lot, naturally there is a lot of business associated with it. To be very clear, the entry requirements for a master’s degree varies from university to university, department to department, course to course. There is NO UNIVERSAL entry requirements for a master’s degree. In broad categories the requirements MAY ask for:

  • Acceptable undergraduate degree.
  • Completion of internship.
  • English language proficiency: The band or required score varies a lot depending on the course.
  • Reference letters
  • LORs
  • Interview

As for PLAB, it is NOT a requirement in any of the master’s degree until and unless your research or course involves patient interaction like performing practical procedures on real patients. So in “MD without PLAB” (thus GMC registration) you WILL NOT be allowed to do so, rather you would just observe.

Where can I find these courses?

Internet.

Yes, as the courses are awarded by independent organizations like universities there is hardly one single site where you will find everything. But notables ones are PostGrad and finadamasters. You can come across many more websites, but be sure to communicate with the varsity email every step of the way if you are interested about any course. Be vigilant about scammers.

Is it worth it?

Now that question can not be answered as the ‘worth’ of higher education can not measured objectively just like that.  But,

  • Is it ‘necessary’ for your training in the UK- No.
  • Is it ‘mandatory’ to have a master’s degree for a doctor in the UK- No.
  • Will it help in my career back in my home country – Depends on the laws and regulations of your country. 

At the end of the day, it’s your choice.

I hope I’ve covered almost everything related to the postgraduate master’s and diploma in the UK for a doctor. There should be no misconception about these and specialty training in the UK by now. Where the master’s can improve your academic knowledge in a specific field, the training is where you learn to implement all your knowledge.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a Master’s degree required to be a specialist in the UK?

No. An MD/MS is not a requirement to join or complete specialty training in the UK.

Will having a Master’s degree give me an advantage after having GMC registration to get a non-training job?

Having a master’s degree enriches your CV and do give you an edge over other applicants but spending all that amount to have this edge is not practical. If you really want to have this master’s go for it, but don’t take it just to have an competitive edge.

If I want to do an MSc first and then take PLAB, will it be a good idea?

A lot of doctors do that. But remember if you come to do an MSc in the UK, you will be in a student visa and if you complete PLAB and get GMC registration and get a job, you will have to change visa and apply for tier 2 visa, for which you may have to leave the UK.

Is an MD/MS equal to “core training”?

Absolutely not. These are two completely separate pathway in a doctor’s education and training. Please see this video again to have a clearer idea.

48 thoughts on “Master's Degree & Postgraduate Diploma in the UK”

  1. Any uk private colleges where fees are less and recognise by all countries? Want to do md medicine. Already done mbbs

    1. The article already mentions how can you find post graduate degrees. You will have to do your own search and make a prospective list which suits you. There is no available list where someone just listed cheap universities and courses.

  2. Hi dr, If i get a PG course in clinical medicine and in future i get core medical training or specialty training in some other subject, will the points be added to the CV regardless of subject in PG course?

    1. Yes any Masters level degree eg MSc, MA, MRes, etc. (can include non-medical qualifications) will give you points towards your training application.

  3. Mushfiquzzaman Dipto

    Dr. Ibrahim Ivan, Can you share your own experience regarding this part of application scoring? I believe you managed to get IMT offer within your first year of non-training job experience in UK. How did you score in this in such a short time after your GMC registration and starting of your job?
    Getting 0 score in the undergraduate section of application scoring is another of my concern!
    If my question has been answered, please do redirect me there. Thanks in advance. You guys are my heroes. May Allah bless you with endless happiness and success.

  4. In my home country when you finish medical school you get awarded an MD, but this is for 6 years of medical school only, so there’s no “pre-med” degree, would that count towards a postgraduate degree or will it be considered a Bachelor’s degree?

    1. If that is your Primary Medical Qualification – then that won’t be counted as a post-graduate degree.

  5. Mehrab Hossain Khan

    Hello sir, Can i have masters degree(MD/MS/Msc) in uk and then come back to bangladesh to continue my carrier here? If possible then what are the requirements to get me admitted there? Thank you

    1. Which university? which subject? which course?
      These are the things you have to find out first. Yes, you can go anywhere and continue your career.

  6. Hello Sir, Firstly thank you so much for always being so informative and helpful. My aim is after finishing my undergrad i really ant to pursue career as a medical researcher in UK. In that case how will i proceed what will be the best for me?

    1. For research career you would have to choose to a master’s degree in your area of your interest and pick up the research opportunity from there.

  7. Hi,
    Thank you for a very comprehensive article.
    I have heard that getting a UK master’s degree before applying for training helps in some way regarding RLMT. Does changing visa from Tier 4(study visa) to tier 2 help in any way? I would really appreciate if you can elaborate on that.
    I do understand that currently all doctors are in shortage occupation list and are exempt from RLMT. But lets suppose if RLMT requirement comes back, how does a UK masters help?
    Thank you very much for all that you do.

    1. RLMT only prevented doctors to get into training posts. Hardly anyone jumps into a training post directly from a master’s degree. So even if RLMT comes back being in a master’s degree doesn’t help much as your are not gaining any NHS experience to bolster your training application.

  8. Hello, I wanted to ask if I work at a non training job for 1 year which is in a surgical dept and previously I already have done my housejob 6 months plus another 3 months as post housejob in a surgical dept, would that make me ineligible for the core surgical training application? there is a cap at 18 months? I am not sure?

    1. You will have to start doing a Masters in related subject and then get into research jobs as you find it. There is no one website which has research job listings like that.

  9. JEEWA VENGADASALAM

    What sort of NHS jobs are there for an IMG with just an academic MD obtained in the UK? Assuming there is no GMC registration yet. Is there a career in medical research or scientific research, for doctors who prefer this path? Are there any regulatory hurdles ?

    1. Even research jobs may eventually need you to see and treat patients, for that case it’s always better to be GMC registered if you are a doctor and willing a medical related career in the UK.

  10. Is it a good idea to continue speciality training( after completing MRCP) and a MD degree simultaneously ? MD course is costly in UK,needless to say someone would need a income source unless he/she has a scholership or self-funding. So, is it possible to continue both training and MD altogether? Or it possible but not feasible! 😉

    1. I wouldn’t say it’s easily doable. Yes, you can sign up for distant-learning in many courses, but the time and effort to be put in it along with your job and training progression, it would be very tricky to manage in my opinion.

  11. Padala Rajesh

    If I clear my PLAB and enter into 3 year’s M.D Internal Medicine course in University of Chester and after successful completion of the course, at what level I can able to work in the UK

    1. An MD degree will not change your level, and if it is your first NHS job, you should be ideally looking at starting with an FY2/CT1/SHO level for a short amount of time.

      1. Padala Rajesh

        University people saying that the course is in lines with JRCPTB and it consists of 3 year’s core medical training i.e IMT now, does regular IMT and this training offered by University are same or not?

        1. I have had a look at the course.
          If you get this course done without having GMC registration, it won’t count towards your formal training, but possibly you will be able to get your core competencies signed which will help you getting into ST3 later on.

        2. Padala Rajesh

          Thank you so much Ibrahim ji for answering all my queries. Need your suggestion, is it better to join this course after getting GMC registration or should I join the course and later on give PLAB? My ultimate goal is to come back to my home country India and settle here itself, in that case does this M.D from University of chester is going to be helpful or not?

        3. If your ultimate goal is not to settle in the UK, then you can keep having GMC registration for later. But, mind you- without GMC registration you would be allowed to do any clinical procedure on the patient, so your learning may seem unfulfilling.

  12. Abdullah Ramadhan

    Dear Drs,
    I’m an international doctor from Kuwait. I’m looking for an opportunity to do observation in dermatology dermatology. Is it possible to do it here,
    BW
    Abdullah

    1. Hello, observerships are possible. Just contact the hospitals you’d like to do them in and complete their application form. There may be a fee associated.

  13. so if i clear PLAB, get GMC registration and get into CT and later do some diploma or MSc in dermatology or gastroenterology, will it benefit me while applying for speciality training?

    1. Yes. Master’s degree in a related field will help you in your application.
      But an MSc in dermatology won’t help you as much in an application for gastroenterology.
      Again, these are not mandatory things to get into training.
      Doing this master’s after IMT jeopardizes your settled visa clock, as for master’s you would have to switch to student visa from work visa.

  14. Nuwani Kulatunge

    Hi. I’m a 3rd year medical student studying in Philippines. I’m from Sri Lanka and am on a student visa to study for the 5 and half year course of MD in Philippines.
    My first question is although MD is equivalent to MBBS, am I allowed to do PLAB with an MD or is it strictly only for MBBS students?
    My second question is why do I need to do PLAB if I can jump start at MRCP? Do I need to have any internship done before doing MRCP? Can i do it in Philippines or should I go back to Sri Lanka?
    Thank you.

    1. Hello, so long as your college is listed on WDOMS, you can appear for PLAB. MRCP will take you longer to clear and is a more difficult exam while PLAB will allow you to start working in the UK sooner. Yes you will eventually need MRCP, but you can get an idea of the NHS sooner with PLAB. Internship is required for GMC registration and MRCP part 1. You can complete your internship wherever an acceptable pattern is undertaken.

  15. Tahsin Tabassum Camelia

    I want to take an Msc in Endocrinology in uk. Shall I get a job after completing my study. If so what sorts of job those can be?

    1. You can’t work as a doctor with an MSc.
      You would have to pass PLAB or any other accepted PG qualification like MRCP/MRCS in order to apply for GMC registration along with getting required score in the IELTS/OET.

  16. Faisal Chowdhury Arnob

    In the number 6 box why is it written that “do not enter MRCP” bhaiya? After doing plab and getting into a training in surgery, how much worthwhile would it be to obtain an MRCS and would it be a valuable addition to my CV and for getting better training jobs and then when can I sit for the FRCS? I know it matters at home, but does it in the UK?

    1. MRCP is not an academic degree which will be considered in your core/specialty training application. Instead, it is an eligibility criteria on its own for specialty training in medicine specialties at ST3 level.
      You MUST clear MRCS before ST3 in surgical specialties.
      FRCS comes during/after your surgical training. If you become a fellow, obviously it is of value and of use both at home and abroad.

  17. Dr. Md Faisal Talukder

    I have completed my clinical MS degree on Cardio-thoracic Surgery from Shandong University, China. That was 3 years long clinical degree and full time Hospital attachment/rotation. I have CSC publications as first author. Is it helpful for my career on Cardio-thoracic surgery in UK

    1. Cardiothoracic Surgery is, if I’m not wrong, is the MOST competitive field of specialty training in the UK. Only 10 training posts were available in the year of 2017.
      So, a clear knowledge and thought should be given prior to taking you career in the UK.
      Yes, your Master’s and clinical rotation will give you points and help you to prove commitment to the specialty when you apply. Also the publications too.

    1. Less regarded by who?
      Sometimes the exact same course has it’s option to be taught as distant-site learning other than formal class. In that case you’re practically been awarded the same degree.
      But if the course was only online, a look into how credible the organization is has to be looked up.

  18. Now a days getting chance in desired speciality training is getting difficult? Partial completion of membership exam will add any point? Or doing Msc is better but expensive option?

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