Is a PhD possible with a 2:1?

Hi there, I’m currently in the final year of my integrated masters, likely to graduate with a (high) 2:1, and was wondering how common it is for PhD students to have this grade at undergraduate (or merit at masters), especially at good universities, or whether its worth re-thinking whether doing a PhD is the right option for me altogether?

For context - I go to Oxford at a high-achieving college, and my tutor outlined bluntly that it would be very difficult to get a PhD at a good university without a high first, let alone a first, and that if you get a 2:1, completing a PhD might be outside your remit anyway. Any insight into whether this is true, or overly harsh, would be amazing!

Hi there,

I got a 2:1 in my bachelors and my masters and im now in my last year (write up) of my PhD. I’ve done all my studies at Huddersfield University. However, I think your tutor is being ridiculous. If course its possible. They should be backing you if thats somthing you really want to do.

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Thank you! In hindsight my tutor might’ve been referencing getting PhDs at high-ranking universities, but either way that’s really reassuring to hear.

@eveshuh First, let me say one thing. Your tutor is a jerk. There, I said it. Sure, he should be bluntly honest with you about the lay of the land but he should also mention that if you do not have good scores, you should find another way to stand out and differentiate yourself from the pack.

I believe my story is a good example. I come from engineering, with a score of 7.4 out of 10, in Brazil. I migrated to organizational development, did a master’s in an average school with a GPA of 3.94 out of 4, and was accepted into a Ph.D. on an average program on which I dropped out right after the first semester. I still wanted to do a Ph.D. but after a thorough investigation, I realized that there were only 2 programs that focused on action research. So very slim chances.

I spent 6 months reading the faculty’s work from both programs and went deeper by reading the work they cited on their work. I was in “One man, One mission” mode. I poured everything into my personal statement, citing the work they used to support their arguments, to show I know what I was talking about. To show we have the same values. And it worked. I was not only invited for an interview in both of the programs I applied to, and I was accepted into one of them and I am still waiting for the answer from the other one. Moreover, in the program where I was accepted, one of the faculty specifically complimented me for my personal statement saying they are not used to receiving such thorough work. And that program is in an ivy league university in the US.

What I want to say is, even if you don’t have a perfect score, it is possible to get into a Ph.D. You will need to pour your heart and soul into your application and show that you are the full way in. But it is definitely possible.

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Ah wow amazing :)) thanks so much, that’s really inspiring!

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I also got a 2:1 in my undergraduate from a not great university in the UK and I then got Merit in my masters at a good university and have just received a scholarship to do a PhD at a good university in the UK, it definitely is not something that will hold you back!

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