A Guide to Tutors' Qualifications

Qualifications can be tricky to get your head around. There are many different awarding bodies and systems, each with their own abbrs. We've compiled a list of the most common ones you'll come across when looking for a tutor, with explanations about each one.

Foundation Degree

Rarer than most of the others on this list, these are the basic post-secondary qualification, usually rewarded after a one or two year course in the subject. They come in two types:

  • FdA - a Foundation Degree in the Arts
  • FdSc - a Foundation Degree in Sciences

(The Arts is any 'humanities' subject, such as English, History, Languages, Cultural Studies, etc and the Sciences are pretty self-explanatory, but also include subjects like Maths and Psychology. Some subjects, like Archaeology or Anthropology, may offer both Arts degrees which are more literature focused, and Science degrees which are more scientific.

Bachelor's Degree

This is the most common degree. When someone says "I have a degree in...", they mean a Bachelor's degree. This is the degree you get after going to university (unless you do a short course or end your studies early, in which case you probably get a Foundation instead). It implies that someone has very solid knowledge in whatever subject their degree is in, and that they can competently teach their subject to anyone up to Bachelor's level. While a person is pursuing this degree, they are called an 'undergraduate'. It comes in three main types:

  • BA - a Bachelor of Arts
  • BSc - a Bachelor of Science
  • BEd - a Bachelor of Education

...although you may see BEng for engineers or BPhil for philosophers, but these are rather rare.

Once someone has their Bachelor's degree, they are said to have graduated. It doesn't stop there, however. There are many post-graduate qualifications that your prospective tutor may have, including teaching ones.


This means 'Qualified Teacher Status', and is usually a key prerequisite to being able to teach in State Schools. There are many qualifications a person may have in order to obtain QTS. These are listed below:

  • PGCE: this is the most common teaching qualification, and the one you are most likely to see on your tutor's profile, if they are a teacher. It stands for Post-graduate certificate in Education. It means they've completed a Bachelor's degree and gone on to take an additional course to hone their teaching ability and subject knowledge. A PGCE can count towards a Master's Degree.
  • ProfGCE: a Professional Graduate Certificate in Education. Much rarer than PGCE, mainly because the course is not as academically-oriented. Cannot count towards a Master's Degree.
  • SCITT: School-Centred Initial Teacher Training. This teaching qualification has heavy focus on teaching experience, each candidate is usually assigned a school to teach at during their studying.
  • GTP: Graduate Teacher Programme, for unqualified graduates who have taught in schools for a set amount of time, and have now been deemed to be qualified teachers by virtue of their teaching experience.

Graduate Diploma

This is a course usually taken by someone who did their Bachelor's degree in one subject, but wants to study another unrelated subject at postgraduate level. As a consequence they are not that common. They essentially indicate that their bearer has undergraduate-level knowledge in a specific subject. Its abbreviation is usually: GDip.

Master's Degree

This is a 'full' post-graduate degree, meaning that its bearer has attained a level of knowledge a tier above a Bachelor's degree. A Bachelor's degree is a prerequisite. The most commonly seen abbreviations are:

  • MA - a Master of Arts
  • MSc - a Master of Science
  • MEd - a Master of Education

...again some subjects such as Engineering have their own title MEng, which is what one needs if being a professional engineer is their aim. You may also see MPhil or MBA.

Doctorate (PhD / Ph.D / D.Phil / DPhil)

When someone gets this qualification, they may put 'Dr.' in front of their name. PhD stands for Doctor of Philosophy, but 'philosophy' is used in an archaic way meaning 'academic knowledge' (compare to the old name for Science: 'natural philosophy').


This is the ultimate qualification an academic can attain. It shows they are true masters at the cutting edge of their subject.