If someone asks me what I am studying, what article should I use?

Would it be:

  1. I am studying an MSc/a masters in Statistical Research Methods


  1. I am studying the MSc/the masters in Statistical Research Methods

How does the meaning change here, depending on the article?

Thank you very much for your help!

  • 1
    Just to point out that if any had asked me, "What are you studying." I would have replied, "Aerospace Engineering." That question, to me, does not call for the mention of a degree type.
    – Jim
    Nov 5, 2015 at 2:43
  • I agree. You don't study a degree, you study for a degree. That's why I changed it in my answer to 'for a masters'. That allows the question to still be answerable. Nov 5, 2015 at 2:53

1 Answer 1


I am studying for a masters in statistical research methods
I am studying for the Masters in Statistical Research Methods

In the first case you are studying for a masters degree. We don't know where or at what university. We don't even know what the official name of the degree is --just the subject matter (hence the compulsory use of lower case).

In the second case you are studying for the Masters in Statistical Research Methods. This implies that there is only one such degree. It also gives its official name.

Clearly it is very unlikely that there is only one such degree in the entire world. Therefore we have to conclude you are talking about a particular university. There must have been some context that made this clear. Either you had already mentioned the name of the university or perhaps you were standing in the grounds of a university when you spoke.

So, the usual rule applies. You can only use 'the' when previous context makes it clear what you are referring to.

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