Honours vs. non-honours degree: Which is better?


Whether you are making a transition from high school to college life or from bachelor's to the next level of your education, there are high chances you might feel a bit overwhelmed with all the queries and advice thrown at you. Feeling a little lost and confused is something normal at this stage of your life. If "honours degree" or "hons." is a term that has left you bewildered, you've come to the right place!

Let's set out on a quest to unravel the mystery of what's an honours degree in this blog as we explore what you need to know about an honours degree. It's time to achieve clarity on your path to education and success! 

What is an honours degree?

Before we jump into the details, what is an honours degree and what does it entail? The definition of an honours degree differs according to the country and course. But the basic definition of honours is that the modules of the course are of a higher level with a deep understanding of the subjects. Also, the duration of an honour's degree is relatively longer compared to a non-honours degree. Now, let's find out how honours degrees work in various top study destinations to get a clear picture of it.

What's an honours degree in Australia & New Zealand?

When it comes to honours degree in Australia & New Zealand, it can either be:

  • Honours degree after your bachelor's (or)
  • Honours degree combined with your bachelor's as part of your final year

Entry requirements for an honours degree in Australia & New Zealand:

  • A strong academic record is highly needed for an honours degree, with a weighted average mark (WAM) of 65 to 75%.
  • You should have finished a bachelor's degree.
  • You must be able to produce a research proposal and have the potential to pull out high-quality research.

What's an honours degree in the United Kingdom?

Most universities in the UK combine an honours degree with their bachelor's programs. This means that regardless of what course you choose, whether it's in arts, engineering, or science, your degree will be entitled with an honours. Also, the UK is a top destination when it comes to honours degrees.

Types of honours degrees:

The types of honours degree differs according to the overall percentage and academic performance. Check out the types of honours:

  • First-class honours: To be eligible for this degree, you need to score 70% or above. It is highly recognised and provides a competitive edge when applying for a master's degree.
  • Upper second-class honours (2:1): You should score somewhere between 60% to 69% to be qualified for this honours. Second class degree is divided into two levels, upper and lower second-class honours. This type of degree is popular among students, and most of them apply to this.
  • Lower second-class honours (2:2): For this honours degree, just average marks is needed, which is 50% to 60%. It is not highly regarded compared to the first and 2.1 honours.
  • Third-class honours: This type of honours requires just pass marks of 40% to 50%. It is the lowest honours degree.

Entry requirements for an honours degree in the United Kingdom:

The entry requirements for honours varies according to the course and university. But here's the basic criteria to take into account:

  • You should have good grades in your A-level results.
  • Some universities will ask for UCAS points, and it has to be somewhere between 128 to 136 points.

What's an honours degree in Ireland?

  • A level 8 is considered as an honours degree in Ireland. When it comes to honours in Ireland, bachelor's with honours degree is widely known. The duration for this degree is 3 to 4 years. However, professional courses with honours might take a longer duration.
  • Also, there are few courses where you can get a normal bachelor's degree and proceed with one year honours degree.

Entry requirements for an honours degree in Ireland:

  • For an honours degree, it is necessary to produce two higher level C3 grades and four ordinary level D3 grades. In some universities, it will be three higher level C3 grades and three ordinary D3.
  • If you are pursuing honours after bachelor's, you should have 180 to 240 credits. 

What's an honours degree in the USA?

There is no such concept of an honours degree in the USA. But if you perform well in your studies and score a very good GPA, you will be awarded with the following honours titles while you are graduating:

  • Cum laude (To denote that it is awarded with praise)
  • Magna cum laude (To denote that it is awarded with great praise)
  • Summa cum laude (To denote that it is awarded with highest praise)

As a Summary

If you had come this far, you definitely would have gotten a clearer picture of an honours degree. And in doing so, you would also have a well-rounded idea on what a non-honours degree is.

To put it simply, a non-honours degree is a normal bachelor's degree which gives you overall knowledge about the subject with regular modules.

An honours degree gives you detailed knowledge about the subject by doing research, thesis and projects. And when it comes to duration, honours degrees take longer to complete compared to non-honours degrees.

Breaking down the cost for honours degrees

Higher education is a big investment, and understanding the financial commitment is crucial. While honours programs may come with a higher tuition price tag, they also offer more intensive, specialised courses and research opportunities. But tuition isn't the only expense to keep in mind – food, personal, living, and other miscellaneous expenses all play a role in the overall cost.


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