April 20, 2024
How to Get a Distinction in Your Masters Degree
As more people travel abroad for studies, I believe it is important to spill the tea on how to get a distinction in your masters degree. So, if you have recently moved to the UK, Canada, US, etc. for studies and you want to graduate with a distinction, you may want to read this post to the end.
In case you are wondering why you should take my advice on this topic, I’ll give you two reasons:
1. I got a distinction in my masters.
2. I nearly did not graduate with a distinction.
Let’s get on with the gist.

How to graduate with a distinction in your MSc.

1. Critique what you learn in class

Critique: a detailed analysis and assessment of something, often highlighting both its strengths and weaknesses. It involves a careful judgment based on standards, criteria, or principles (Drew, C. (2023, September 17). 45 Critique examples. Helpful Professor).
You get more marks by critiquing than regurgitating what you are taught in class.
Although our lecturers tried to emphasize the importance of critiquing what they teach us from day 1, it took me a whole semester to internalize this. The result? I didn’t do great in my first semester.

2. Research intensively

Critiquing should come from a place of informed knowledge, not feelings or bias.
Whatever contrary opinion you want to express in your assignments should be as a result of the research you have done. Your experience and feelings are not recognized as credible sources, except you can back them up with proper academic references.
If you are studying for a post-graduate degree, you’d agree with me that, unlike your undergraduate program, it is research intensive. Your lecturers’ assignment is to introduce a topic and guide you as you research. It is your responsibility to research intensively to get in-depth knowledge of the topic.

3. Learn the art of academic writing

There are a couple of things to keep in mind when writing your assignments. But I’d say the main points are:
i. Tone: your assignments should be written in a formal and objective tone.
ii. Flow: your ideas should be organized in a logical and coherent manner.
iii. Credibility: for your work to pass as an academic work, you must make reference to works published by other scholars.
Any idea you present that isn’t common knowledge should be backed up with academic evidence, otherwise, it is no longer academic writing, and you lose marks for this.
For example:
The capital of Canada is Ottawa” is common knowledge. You do not need to cite where you got this information from.
Ottawa was chosen as the capital of Canada by Queen Victoria in 1857 because of its strategic and defensible location” is not common knowledge. You must provide a citation for this.
Another note I’d like to make under this point is this: study your course’s marking rubric so you understand how your assignments are graded.
If you want to graduate with a distinction, there is a standard expected of your work. The criteria for meeting that standard are outlined in the marking rubric.

4. Complete your assignments in time

Right from the beginning of the semester, you’d know the deadline for submitting all your assignments. Please, start your assignments early so you have enough time to research and make corrections.

5. Show your lecturers your assignments before turning it in for submission

I don’t know if this is obtainable in every school, but in my school (Sheffield Hallam University, UK) you can ask your lecturer to review your assignment before submitting it. I did not take advantage of this opportunity in my first semester. But I did in my second and third semesters, and my results were significantly better in both semesters.
Before writing my assignment, I’d share my thoughts on how I want to approach the assignment with my lecturer. After writing, I’d also show my lecturer what I had written for review and implement the feedback before submitting.
If your lecturers allow this, please take advantage of it. Sometimes, you may be writing off-point without realizing.
This is also why I earlier said you should complete your assignment in time. That way, you have enough time to share your work with your instructor, receive and implement feedback before the deadline.

6. Utilize every resource at your disposal

Good schools abroad have all the resources you need to do well.
My school organized writing classes, weekly. If you felt the need to improve on your academic writing and research skills, all you had to do was book a session.
If you visited the library and couldn’t find a book, you could request for it and the library would borrow the book from another library on your behalf- if available. You could also request of the librarian to guide you on how to find the right materials for your assignment.

7. Before you start your dissertation, share your goals with your supervisor

Before I started my dissertation, I calculated my CGPA for my first and second semesters, calculated the score I needed to get in my dissertation to make get a distinction then added 10 marks to it.
When I had my first meeting with my supervisor, I shared my target with him. He told me he was ready to help me achieve it if I was ready to play my part. True to his word, he helped me. Bless his heart.
I did not get the mark I wanted, but I got the mark I needed to get a distinction. That was a win for me.

8. Decide that you want to graduate with a distinction early

Perhaps, I should have written this first.
I did not make the decision to graduate with a distinction before I started my studies. The only decision I made was to get opportunities that allowed me implement what I learnt in class. But when I saw my first semester results, I knew that I would graduate with a poor grade if I didn’t decide to graduate with a distinction.
So, I did all the things that I have just shared with you above.
Read also: How to save money in the UK as a student.

Frequently asked questions

Is it hard to get a distinction at Masters?

I spent about 5 minutes pondering on how to answer this question.

Getting a distinction in your MSc requires you to be disciplined and committed, and we both know that staying disciplined and committed is not easy. That’s why it could feel like graduating with a distinction is hard. But if you can decide to stay committed, you’ll get to a stage where you won’t feel hard anymore.

What is a good mark for a Masters dissertation?

I would say 70 and above. Your dissertation carries the single highest weight of all your courses. Getting an A (70+) is like getting an A in 3 courses. So getting anything lower can bring your CGPA down.

What mark gets you a distinction?

In most schools, you’d need a 70% CGPA to get a distinction. Check your school’s grading guideline or use the masters degree calculator provided by your university to find out what the cut off mark is.

Is a distinction in Masters good?

A distinction is the best result you can get. So, yes. Getting distinction in Masters is good.

Read also: Is studying in the UK worth it?

Is there first class in Masters?

The equivalent of a first class classification in a Masters degree program is distinction.

What is the Masters degree grading scale?

Distinction: 70%+
Merit: 60-69%
Pass: 50-59%
Fail: 40-49%

Do you get a title for a Masters?

Yes, you do and it will depend on your field of study. For example, you get awarded the title Master of Arts (MA) if you completed a program in arts and humanities.

– Master of Laws (LLM): for programs in law.
-Master of Public Administration (MPA): for programs in public administration.
– Master of Engineering (MEng): for engineering programs.
Master of Education (MEd): for graduate programs in education.
– Master of Science (MSc): if you completed a program in Sciences or Social Sciences.
Master of Business Administration (MBA): for graduate programs in business and management.


I understand that graduating with a distinction demands a lot. You may not have the luxury of focusing on only your studies when you travel abroad to school, as you may need to work. But, if you make up your mind that you want to graduate with a distinction and make the sacrifices, I trust you will.
It won’t be easy, but just imagine for a second how happy and proud of yourself you’d be if you graduated with a distinction.
I wish you the best❤.
Got questions? Ask in the comments section below.
Did I miss any point, please share in the comments section below.

4 thoughts on “8 Tips on How to Get a Distinction in Your Masters Degree

  1. These guidelines are vitally important and a sure bet for students who are willing to apply them. I’ve learnt a lot from them.
    Thank you for a job well done!

  2. As a writer and one who has written a number of assignments for people based in the UK, everything you said here is apt and true!

    I must commend pen skill too! The tone is warm and the words glides smoothly through the walls of the esophagus to my stomach: “your flow resonates with me! “

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