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Topic: Please Help!! - UK vs US Degree Equivalency  (Read 4401 times)

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Please Help!! - UK vs US Degree Equivalency
« on: July 22, 2013, 07:18:20 PM »
Has anyone else had any experience with researching/understanding UK and US degree equivalencies?

From what I understand, a US First Professional Degree is equivalent to a UK Bachelors Degree Honours. I had never heard of a first professional degree and began researching it.

This is the information I found out:

Below is a list of first professional degrees listed as recognized by the USDOE and the NSF:[9]
Chiropractic Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.)
Dentistry Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (D.M.D.)
Law Doctor of Jurisprudence or Juris Doctor (J.D.)
Medicine Doctor of Medicine (M.D.)
Optometry Doctor of Optometry (O.D.)
Osteopathic Medicine Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.)
Pharmacy Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.)
Physical Therapy Doctor of Physical Therapy (D.P.T.)
Podiatry Doctor of Podiatric Medicine/Podiatry (D.P.M., D.P., or Pod.D.)
Clergy Master of Divinity (M.Div.), Master of Hebrew Letters (M.H.L.) or Rabbinical Ordination (Rav)
Veterinary Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.).

Now can anyone for the life of me tell me why in the hell they consider a 3-4 year UK BA degree equivalent to such high level of study in the US?? Who determines these equivalencies?

I currently hold a BA degree from the US and want to enter a teacher training program, but they keep telling me I only have a "standard" degree, which many programs/universities do not accept.

Can anyone shed some life on this?
Aug. 2010 - Met husband to be while teaching English at the same school in South Korea
Jul. 2012 - Moved to Guernsey, Channel Islands on a fiancé visa
Aug. 2012 - Got married! FLR granted
Aug. 2014 - ILR granted
Aug. 2015 - Applying for citizenship


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  • Britannicaine
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Re: Please Help!! - UK vs US Degree Equivalency
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2013, 07:38:39 PM »
In the UK education system, general education is considered completed by the age of 16, when students take their GCSEs (General Certificates of Secondary Education).  That's supposedly the equivalent of a US high school diploma.  After that, university-bound students or ones who want better qualifications take three or four (occasionally five) more subjects, which they study in-depth for either one year to earn an AS-level, or two years to earn an A-level.  American AP exams are considered roughly equivalent to A-levels.  When UK students go to university, they apply not just to the university but also to the programme they want, and their A-levels determine what programme they are eligible for.  So if someone does A-levels in English, French, and Spanish, they could do a degree in any of those languages, or in Modern Languages or perhaps linguistics, but they couldn't do one in, say, biology.  University courses last three years and are focused only on the degree subject.  No general education requirements exist. 

Basically, an American degree has more breadth, and a British one has more depth.  According to some UK equivalencies, a US masters can be considered equivalent to a UK bachelors.  For that reason also, things like law (and I think also medicine, but I'm not sure) require postgrad degrees in the US but are bachelors degrees in the UK.  Then there's the whole "honours degree" thing, which frankly I think is a load of old tosh.  My husband has a 2:2 "honours" degree, which I refuse to believe is any better than my cum laude, especially since he can't explain what makes an honours degree different from a standard one.  NARIC would probably disagree with me, which is why I have never had them do an equivalency for my degree.   

Frankly, the lack of respect the UK has for American degrees is one of my pet peeves, but unfortunately I don't think there's anything to be done about it.  Is there any way you could do any kind of supplementary course or extra training to satisfy the requirement? 
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Re: Please Help!! - UK vs US Degree Equivalency
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2013, 01:29:45 PM »
My US bachelor degrees have always been equated to an honours degree here in Scotland - though that could be due to my GPA, as that alone translates to a first class OR it could be the difference between Scotland and England/Wales. I just know that when I applied for my master's degree in Scotland they described me as a highly qualified candidate. (Both are bachelors humanities-based degrees.)

Getting ready to start my PhD in Scotland next month and all three of the universities I applied to (and was accepted by) made note of my "honours" degrees at the undergraduate level.

So, I would first look at your GPA for your bachelors. Then have a look at the Fullbright Commission's website here: http://www.fulbright.org.uk/pre-departure/academics/marks.

Finally, have you spoken directly with someone in admissions for the university/programme you want to attend? It might be that showing them a copy of your full transcript will help to show your full worth.

As for an overall lack of respect for American degrees in the UK, I've never noticed that in my social, employment, or academic circles. But it might depend on your degree.


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