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Becoming a Master of Wine means entry into a unique wine community. It brings enriching personal and professional opportunities, lifelong friendships and exclusive opportunities. Masters of Wine are renowned tasters who are regularly asked to judge at wine competitions all over the world, to lecture on wine courses, to lead tastings, and to assess some of the world’s finest private cellars.


Masters of Wine represent a broad diversity of professions within the wine world. Some travel the globe as a consultant, while others put down roots as a winemaker to produce their own expression of a particular piece of terroir. The IMW membership encompasses winemakers, buyers, shippers, business owners, retailers, academics, sommeliers, wine educators, writers, journalists and more. 

The one thing they have in common is their shared experience in the MW study programme, a self-directed journey that requires dedication and motivation.


The journey to becoming an MW is a challenging one, but not a lonely one. On joining the programme, you will be assigned a Master of Wine as your mentor, and you will have frequent opportunities to meet fellow students, MWs and other industry leaders at residential seminars and course days. 

You will also have the chance to go on student trips to wine-producing regions, with enviable access to some of the world’s greatest producers. Bursaries and scholarships are available, which often have a travel and financial element to help you with your studies.


You can study the programme from anywhere in the world, with the option to attend seminars at either of our study centres in Australasia, Europe and North America. There are three stages to the programme, and the minimum time it takes to qualify as an MW is three years. However, most students take longer, either to have a break during their studies, to refine their tasting skills or to re-sit exams. Each stage of the programme takes place within a limited timeframe. 

Study programme prospectus

Study programme syllabus



This is the foundation stage. For most students, it will be your first serious interaction with the IMW. It’s also an opportunity to meet MWs and fellow students in professional and social settings. Stage one involves a five-day residential seminar and four non-residential course days. Up to six pieces of work should be submitted for assessment during the year. The culmination of this stage is the stage one assessment (S1A), which takes place in early June in London, Napa or Adelaide. It involves one 12-wine blind tasting paper and two theory essays. Progression to stage two of the study programme is dependent on success in the S1A.


Stage two is a crucial time. It involves a five-day residential seminar and four non-residential course days. You are required to submit a range of assignments for assessment during the year. At the end of stage two, you will take the first two parts of the MW exam. The practical part comprises three 12-wine blind tastings in which wines must be assessed for variety, origin, commercial appeal, winemaking, quality and style. The theory part comprises five papers on viticulture, vinification and pre-bottling procedures, the handling of wine, the business of wine, and contemporary issues. Exams take place in early June, and progression to stage three depends on passing both parts.


The third stage is dedicated to the research paper (RP). This is the final part of the MW exam, comprising an individual piece of work between 6,000 and 10,000 words in length. Candidates may propose wine-related topics from any area of the sciences, arts, humanities, social sciences or any other discipline. You have the freedom to determine how you explore a topic, so long as it allows you to execute a rigorous interpretation of the subject, and contributes to our understanding of the world of wine. The IMW provides preparatory workshops on the RP throughout the study programme.


The IMW runs a series of introductory courses and information sessions around the world, for anyone interested in applying to the MW study programme. You can view the details of upcoming sessions on the events page here. In the meantime, for anyone interested in joining the programme, you can watch this webinar, recorded on 27 April 2023 which explains the MW approach to the exam syllabus, with a special focus on the writing and tasting skills required to become a Master of Wine. If you would like to apply, you will find everything you need to know here.