Master of Wine (MW) is a qualification (not an academic degree) issued by The Institute of Masters of Wine in the United Kingdom. The MW qualification is generally regarded in the wine industry as one of the highest standards of professional knowledge.
Before enrolling in the MW study programme, prospective students must hold an advanced wine qualification, at least Diploma level from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, or an appropriately high level sommelier certificate, such as Advanced Sommelier from the Court of Master Sommeliers. Also, prospective students need to have a minimum of three years' professional work experience in the global wine community. Applicants must submit a basic essay, a tasting paper, a brief statement explaining their interest in becoming a Master of Wine, and a reference to support their application, from a Master of Wine or another senior wine trade professional. 
The study programme is made up of three stages. Stage 1 is the foundation year and gives students the opportunity to meet Masters of Wine and fellow students in both professional and social settings. Stage 1 assessment includes six pieces of work throughout the year, culminating in an exam that takes place in early June. The exam involves one tasting paper and two essays. Stage 2 is a crucial time for students - it can be very intense but immensely rewarding. Students must provide three pieces of work for assessment throughout the Stage 2 year, and must pass both the Theory and Practical parts of the June MW Examination in order to progress to the Research Paper in Stage 3. The Research paper is an individual paper of between 6,000 and 10,000 words in length, on a topic of the student's choice. The whole qualification takes at least three years to complete in full.
Until 1983, the examination was limited to United Kingdom wine importers, merchants and retailers. The first non-UK Master of Wine was awarded in 1988. As of October 2017, there are 369 MWs in the world, living in 29 countries. The MWs are spread across 5 continents, wherein UK has 208 MWs, USA has 45 MWs, Australia has 24 MWs and France only has 16 MWs. There are 9 countries with 1 MW each on the list.
Today, members hold a range of occupations including winemakers, viticulturists, winemaking consultants, wine writers and journalists, wine educators, and wine service, restaurant and hotel management. In addition, many are involved in the purchasing, importing, distribution, sales and marketing of wine. Typically, sommeliers choose to become Master Sommelier, but only a handful of individuals have achieved both qualifications.
Notable Masters of Wine include: