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Master of Arts, taken after the BA and, originally, after three years’ study of the quadrivium. Although they survived until at least 1787, by the late 17th century, if not earlier, the exercises for the MA (three respondencies to an MA, two respondencies to the BA , and one declamation) were already being treated very casually, except by those who aimed at academic distinction within the University, and in spite of various attempts at re-instating them, the exercises were finally abandoned altogether in the mid 1840s. C. Wordsworth, Scholae Academicae (Cambridge, 1877) 213-34.

Since then, in the words of the Board of Graduate Studies, ‘the MA Degree, which in many universities is awarded by examination, is in Cambridge conferred only on holders of the BA Degree of the University and on certain other senior members of the University. It is not available as a postgraduate qualification in the sense in which that term is generally used.’ Cambridge BAs may proceed to the MA not less than six years from the end of their first term of residence. The MA may also be conferred, under Statute B.III.6 on Heads and Fellows of Colleges and on University officers who are not Cambridge graduates after (except in the case of Heads) three years in post. The possession of the MA degree confers membership of the Senate, once a body with the right to vote on a great variety of issues (notoriously the abolition of Necessary Greek and the admission of women to full membership of the University), now with the right to elect only the Chancellor and the High Steward. It also carries, for instance, certain rights of access to the University Library.