Quite often when you browse through the admission pages of the masters programs of many UK universities you often come across a requirement “Minimum 2.1 degree or equivalent”. For example, the minimum academic requirement to apply for an MPhil in Management at Judge Business School, Cambridge University is:

A First Class Honours degree in a subject other than business or management.

But wait! What on earth is a first class honours degree, let alone a 2.1 degree? This is probably what many of you will be thinking, especially for those who either come from outside the UK or did not attend a British patterned undergraduate education.

Generally, honours degrees are classified into the following categories:

  • First-Class Honours (1st)
  • Upper Second-Class Honours (2:1)
  • Lower Second-Class Honours (2:2)

First-class honours degrees (also known as “firsts”) are awarded to the top 10% of the class at most British  universities. British patterned universities such as those in Australia and New Zealand only award honour degrees to students completing an additional year (usually a dissertation/final year project) upon completing the coursework requirements of their 3 year undergraduate programme.

An upper second class honours degree (also known as two one) is usually awarded to students (sometimes even to those who sadly missed the first class mark by just a few GPA points) who did pretty well . This is also usually the minimum requirement that most Fortune 500 companies look at when hiring

If you have a 2:2 degree or lower, don’t fret. You still have a good chance at getting into a top postgraduate programme of your choice provided you start focusing on your ECs (extra curriculars), improve your CV, personal statement and essays.

Imperial College and London School of Economics have diverted their mountains of GPA related questions by setting up dedicated pages for specific country information, here and here respectively.  Cambridge has one for undergraduates but I could not find any for graduates. If you do find it buried within somewhere, do let me know by posting a comment below.

For those who would prefer a GPA conversion chart, you can always check it here