How to do a Doctorate Degree Programme in Malaysia - Part 1

Even as the Government is placing more importance on education, having split the Education Ministry into two separate divisions to govern over separate areas in order to focus more concentration on them and also to obtain excellence in all the areas, more and more students are going into Post-graduate or Higher Degrees. But what exactly are Postgraduate and Higher Degrees? Why are more and more people interested in them?

Postgraduate education actually refers to the level of higher education that sits above first degrees such as the B.A and B.Sc. In this modern day of paper chase and great expectations from employers, students who have only a first degree qualification normally find that they have to better themselves academically in order to achieve better prospects in their career. One way for self-improvement academic-wise would be to take up degrees higher than what they already have. Thus, the higher degree and postgraduate courses are in great demand. Even the young working adults are realizing that they need higher degrees to enhance their work experience and practical knowledge for a better career path.

We have depicted below information on postgraduate courses, their providers and general entry requirements.

Types Of Post-Graduate Courses
The most common types of postgraduate degrees are offered at Master's and Doctoral (Ph.D) levels. Generally, Malaysian higher education institutions - both public as well as private - conduct three types of postgraduate programmes:
  • Coursework/Taught Course - wherein students need to complete a minimum hours of study in coursework (e.g., 42 credit hours). No thesis is required.
  • Coursework & Dissertation/Research Report - wherein students complete their coursework credits as well as submit a dissertation on their research projects (e.g. minimum 36 credit hours coursework & 6 hours research).
  • Research & Submission of Thesis - wherein students undertake to conduct scholarly research and submit a thesis.- VIVA
An increasing number of postgraduate courses contain both research and taught elements, although the modes of delivery are different. The degrees awarded are:

Master Degrees (MA/MSc/Med/MBA/LLM/MDS, etc.)
These courses can be either taught or completed by research, or may contain the elements of both. The intake is from those with a Bachelor's-level qualification with honours or its equivalent, and the courses will take about one year of full-time study.

Most Master's degrees are designated either as M.A (Master's of Arts) or M.Sc (Master's of Science), depending on the subjects taken. Taught Master's courses may include formal training in research methods as preparation for further research study.

MBA (Master's of Business Administration), LLM (Master's of Law), MDS (Master's of Dental Surgery) are all widely-recognised specialist Master's courses. Among the specialist Master's Degree course, The MBA (Master's of Business Administration) degree is possibly the world's most sought-after post-graduate specialist degree. In fact, in the current globally competitive business environment, the degree lends an edge as MBA holders are known to have a better chance of advancement beyond management level.

The MBA is a professional graduate degree with specialised study in the area of business, and it is on par with postgraduate degrees like the MSc. Students are usually required to have a bachelor's degree qualification as well as a few years' (3-5 years) working experience before they can enroll in an MBA programme.

MBA programmes are popular in Malaysia and are conducted throughout the world, as they are seen to be relevant for the preparation of people for management work and tasks, irrespective of the industry, business sector, the nature of the economy, etc.

Doctorates (Ph.D)
Doctoral programmes - the Ph.D (Doctor of Philosophy) is the most common and it would usually take three or four years of full-time studies. Intake is normally from those with a very good first degree or more commonly from those with a Master's degree and occasionally by transfer from a Master's course.

Some institutions offer a Professional or Practitioner Doctorate, mainly in subjects with a vocational orientation such as education, engineering, clinical physiology and business studies. In subjects such as education and business studies, essays, projects and dissertations can be structured around work experience as well as academic content. In technology subjects, group projects are conducted in relation to industrial placements, highlighting the vocational orientation of the degree.