Study Abroad Tips

What is a 2.1 degree? Learn about UK’s degree classification system

What is a 2:1 degree, and is a 2:2 degree worth anything?

Studying for a Master’s degree in the UK is especially great for international students because its renowned for the high standard of education. That said, international admission guidelines can be tricky and it’s no different in the UK. You might find yourself faced with very specific eligibility requirements – such as “Bachelor’s degree with a 2.2 or a third”. What do these numbers mean?

Degree Classification System

International applicants to a Master’s degree in the UK will need to have their international Bachelor’s degree to be of the same standard that is required from a UK Bachelor’s degree.

In the UK, a Bachelor’s degree can be awarded with or without honours. The classification of the degree is dependant on a grading structure. Here’s what the numbers mean:

  • First-class honours (1st): this is the highest degree classification. Usually, the average overall score of 70%+
  • Second-class honours, upper division (2.1): usually, the average overall exam score of 60%+
  • Second-class honours, lower division (2.2): usually, the average overall score of 50%+
  • Third-class honours (3rd): usually, the average overall score of 40%+
  • Ordinary degree (pass): A degree without an honors classification

Typically, a Master’s programme will need you have at the very least a Second-class honours, lower division (2.2), sometimes called a lower second class honours.

Some do not put an exact grade and request for a ‘good honours degree’ – which usually means a first or a 2.1.

International Comparisons

The British undergraduate degree classification has been applied to many other countries. If your Bachelor’s comes from Canada, India or Nigeria for example, you might find that the system is quite similar to this but with its own variations.

It is quite different if you’re from outside of the countries that follow this system though.

USA

British Degree Classification US GPA Equivalent
First 4.00
Upper Second 3.33–3.67
Lower Second 3.00
Third 2.30
Pass 2.00

The Netherlands

British class Dutch equivalent
First class(1) 8-10
Second class, upper division(2.1) 7 to 8
Second class, lower division(2.2) 6 to 7
Third class(3) 5.5 to 6

Spain

British class Spanish equivalent
First class(1) 8.5 to 10
Second class, upper division(2.1) 7 to 8.49
Second class, lower division(2.2) 6 to 6.99
Third class(3) 5 to 5.99

France

British class French grade range
First class(1) 15-20
Second class, upper division(2.1) 12-14
Second class, lower division(2.2) 10-11
Third class(3) no equivalence

What this Means for You

The comparisons here are a general guide. There are many things to consider, especially programme expectations, nuances and whether you completed a three-year or four-year degree.

For example, even if your Bachelor’s degree corresponds to a lower division honour than the one listed in the eligibility criteria, the admissions team might still consider you a good applicant if you have the right academic background or professional background.

At the end of the day, the best person to give you feedback on making your application perfect is an admissions expert associated with the school! They can do a credit transfer check, and give you the inside information about the programme.

If you get the chance to get personal assistance, grab it. It will definitely help you get an edge with your Master’s application.

• Student Advisor

With a wide-ranging professional and educational background, Anna is passionate about travel and learning. Originally from Poland, she considers her time studying abroad in Italy one of the most valuable experience she's ever had. Today Anna lives in Stockholm and loves helping other international students succeed in their academic journey.