Pros and Cons of Doing a Masters Before PhD (Professional view)

Okoma V.
Okoma V.  - Study Expert
8 Min Read

As a potential graduate school applicant, you have a lot of choices to make, initial decisions, such as can I take masters before PhD?

Many applicants, on the other hand, have difficulty deciding whether to pursue a master’s degree or a PhD individually. Others have a clear idea of what they want to study.

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Those considering pursuing a doctoral degree may wonder if they should first pursue a master’s degree. Is a master’s degree necessary to apply to a doctoral program? Keep reading to find out.

What is a Masters?

A master’s degree is a graduate program academic qualification awarded to people who have fulfilled study and demonstrated a good degree of experience in a given field of study or area of professional practice.

A master’s degree student ought to have extensive knowledge of a specialized body of theoretical and practical aspects topics. As well as a high level of skills and techniques associated with their chosen subject area.

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Also a range of transferable and professional skills gained through independent and highly focused learning and research.

Read also: What is a Master of Research (MRes) Degree?

What is a PhD?

PhD is an abbreviation for Doctor of Philosophy. This is a professional and academic degree that allows the holder to teach their chosen subject at the university level or to work in a specialized position in their chosen field in most countries.

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A PhD is a research proposal degree that is the highest level of academic qualification that one can earn.

The degree usually takes three to four years of full-time work toward a thesis that makes an original contribution to your field.

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Can a PhD be Done with or without a Masters?

It is plausible and not uncommon to get into a PhD program right after graduating from undergrad.

Time commitment-Many American PhD programs do not provide significant core curriculum reduction for students with Master’s degrees.

So yes it is very much possible to get enroll for a doctorate degree without necessarily having to go for a Masters before PhD.

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Read also: Masters or PhD: Which is the Best Option for You?

What are the Cons of Doing a Masters before PhD?

Even if you do not pursue a career in academia after earning a Masters, you will have developed the excellent independent study and research skills that will transfer to a variety of other types of work.

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There are, however, a few things to consider if you know you want to pursue a PhD.

Cost (Tuition Expenses)

Of course, a Masters degree is not free, and these degrees are less likely to be full scholarship-base than a PhD.

While there are postgraduate loans available to help you cover the costs, it can be daunting to consider the ever-increasing student debt that you will accrue.You may be more employable at the end of your degree, but investing in your CV requires both money and time.

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If you are certain that you want to pursue a PhD, a Masters degree will add another year or so to your three to four year doctorate. And five years of additional study, while your friends are starting ‘proper’ jobs, may not sound appealing.

Read also: Part-Time vs Full-Time Masters: Which is Best?

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If you’re considering a PhD, you’re likely eager to begin conducting your own independent research. It’s important to remember that a Masters degree is frequently based on coursework.

There are some research programs available, but you’ll need to be prepared to spend another year (mostly) in the classroom or lab, completing assignments, group projects, and giving presentations.

READ  What is a Master of Research (MRes) Degree?

What are the Pros of Doing a Masters before PhD?

There are many motives why pursuing a Masters degree is a great thing, here are a few of the most important (in my opinion) when considering pursuing a Masters degree before pursuing a PhD.

Identifying your niche

If you are unsure about which research area you want to focus on for your PhD, a Masters degree can help. There are numerous types of Masters programs available, as well as numerous options for specialization.

Choosing one in an area that you were particularly interested in as an undergraduate can help you decide what you really want to do for your PhD.

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Get ready for your PhD

Everyone who has progressed from primary to secondary school, from GCSEs to A-level, and from A-level to undergrad has been warned about the significant step up’ at each stage of education.

Going from undergrad to PhD was the most significant step up I’ve ever taken. The workload, independence, and difficulty of the research made for a difficult transition.

Prepare you for a job

This can be a disadvantage if you expect a Masters degree to extend your sense of being a student. You will still have more time for the pub than you would during a PhD, but a Masters degree will place you right among academic staff, and the work environment will feel much more professional.

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You may be required to attend meetings and may even be given the opportunity to attend conferences, making it feel more like a workplace than a place of study.

Read also: What is Advance Degree: Q and A

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For many people, a Masters degree is an excellent stepping stone. On the other hand, if you need more time to decide which path you want to take in academia, a Masters degree is not just a stopgap, but a bridge to becoming the confident researcher you will eventually need to be.


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