Many students don’t see the point of doing their master’s degrees before doing their doctorate degree, as they may see it as a waste of time or a waste of money. But there are several reasons why you should do your master’s degree before your Doctorate degree, from sharpening your research skills to actually helping you finish your Doctorate degree quicker than you would’ve without it, as well as other reasons. Here are some of the reasons why you should do your master’s before your Doctorate degree. 

Reasons to do your master’s before your Doctorate degree

Preparing you better for your PhD degree and sharpening your research skills are only some of the reasons why you should study a master’s degree before you study a doctorate degree: 

Master’s degrees prepare you for a doctorate degree 

Studying a master’s degree beforehand can prepare you to study a PhD, preparing you by adding extra information to the general concepts you learned during the course of your undergraduate degree. Even if you feel you love your undergraduate degree and are attracted to that field of study, you have to go deeper into the subject to ensure that you want to continue working on the subject. Without a master’s degree, a PhD will be a 6 year commitment so you have to be sure that you are truly passionate about the subject of your choice. A master’s degree is specialised and has a research focus, especially during your dissertation, so you’ll face the subject you want to pursue on a deep level and know if you want to commit to it. They can help you explore your interests and find your passions so that you know you’re exactly where you want to be. 

 

You’ll also be introduced to the world of graduate study through your master’s degree. Graduate study is more complicated than bachelor’s study so you have to have good study routines and a whole lot of motivation to succeed. You can easily acquire these skills during your master’s degree so that you are ready for your Doctorate degree later on. Alternatively, you might find your master’s subject boring or too difficult for you so then you’ll know that you shouldn’t pursue a doctorate degree in that field of study. 

 Read more: Everything you need to know about skipping your master’s and going straight to a PhD degree

Master’s degrees get you into better PhD programs

Another reason to pursue a master’s degree before your PhD program is that they can help you get into better PhD programs. This is because you’ll more knowledge and experience when compared with a bachelor’s student, for example. Graduate schools always favour candidates that have previously acquired master’s degrees, even if the master’s degree isn’t a clear requirement to be eligible for the program. If you don’t have good grades in your bachelor’s degree but made it into the master’s program then graduating with excellent grades from a master’s degree can boost your application for a PhD, even if you might not have been originally eligible post your bachelor degree. Pursuing a master’s degree at the university where you will do your PhD also shows loyalty to the school and department so it can help you secure a better doctorate program. You’ll also get to build great connections in the department, pretty much ensuring that you’ll make the cut for the PhD program. 

Master’s degrees can help you pursue doctorate degrees in new study areas 

The fact that master’s degrees can help you move into a different study field from your bachelor’s study are also a reason to get a master’s degree before your PhD. If you don’t have the right academic knowledge and skills, you’ll probably not be accepted into the doctorate program. This means you’ll need a graduate program like a master’s degree to introduce you to the study area if you chose to study a bachelor’s degree in a field other than your PhD one. During your master’s degree, you’ll gain specialised knowledge and be able to convince the doctorate committee that you are committed, well-skilled and passionate about the new field of study you wish to dive into. 

Master’s degrees can help you complete your Doctorate quicker

A master’s degree can also help you finish your Doctorate on a quicker timespan. Especially if you choose to study in the US or in Canada, you might be able to transfer master’s degree credits to doctorate credits, helping you earn your Doctorate degree quicker. Even if you can’t transfer credits, your master’s degree can still decrease the time you spend on your Doctorate. This is because during a master’s degree program, you have two years where you can really land a research topic you are passionate about and gather significant information about the topic. That translates to being one of two years ahead of the rest of your PhD colleagues who decided to skip a master’s degree and go directly to their doctorate degree. Not bad at all! 

 

Master’s degree admission is not as competitive as PhD admission 

Admission for a master’s degree program is usually less competitive than that for a PhD program. This helps students who didn’t score well enough to join doctorate programs right after graduating from their undergraduate degrees. They might find it easier to be accepted into a master’s program. During the course of their Master’s study degree, they’ll be exposed to intense research experience and be able to build networks with professors and other academics who can vouch for them when they apply for their doctorates later on. Getting good grades on their master’s, as mentioned previously, can help students be eligible for more exclusive doctorate programs than if they’d just applied directly after their undergraduate program. 

Read more: Top of the master’s degrees: 2023 Edition

Master’s degrees can help you sharpen research skills

Sharpening research skills is another benefit to pursue your master’s degree before your PhD degree. Master’s students develop excellent research skills during the course of their degree program through creating and answering new research questions and then analyzing big amounts of data. It can also give students the chance to use new tools for qualitative or quantitative research that they can then use during the course of their doctorate degrees. 

Master’s degrees can help you expand your professional network 

Last but definitely not least, master’s degrees can also help you build your professional network, or expand it if you already have one. Master’s students gain excellent connections and mentors which give them the chance to collaborate in the future. Peers can give them feedback on papers and projects and help them with future work opportunities if they work in good companies. Professors can also write letters of recommendation so students are more likely to be hired by a dream employer or join the PhD program they’ve always wanted to. Networking can also help students build personal skills and communication skills that they can use during the course of their entire careers, whether they decide to venture out into the working world or pursue an academic career through a doctorate later on. 

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Disadvantages of studying a master’s degree before a doctorate degree 

When all’s been said and done, we also need to mention the disadvantages you might face if you choose to study a master’s degree before your Doctorate degree. Here are some of the reasons students choose not to study a master’s degree and skip right to their doctorates:

A master’s degree takes time 

A master’s program will usually need you to study full time. If your credits don’t transfer to your doctorate degree, this means you’ll have already studied two years before going on to your PhD program. Afterwards, you’ll need to study from 4 to 6 years additionally to complete your Doctorate degree. All in all, that’s a lot of time for graduate study, especially if you still want to go out into the working world and pursue a professional career, rather than work in the academic field. If that’s the case, maybe you should look into skipping your master’s degree and going right onto your PhD degree to save time. 

 

It’s hard to find funding for a master’s degree

Second, if you’re looking for funding or a good scholarship, this might be hard to find when pursuing a master’s degree. Master’s degrees usually don’t have good funding options and are paid for out of pocket. This can cause students with limited budgets to have debts even before they go on to their doctorate degrees. On the other hand, PhD degrees have great funding options and most programs offer students either partial or full grants to their programs. If you have a limited budget or don’t want to pay a lot for your graduate studies but are set on getting a PhD degree,  you should look into the options for skipping your master’s degree and going on to your doctorate. 

Read more: What is a PhD and what are its requirements?

 

When all’s been said and done, there are several benefits to getting a master’s degree before your Doctorate degree. You can dive into your area of interest and make sure you are passionate about it before you waste time, energy and money in a doctorate program, for example. You can also build great connections through a professional network that can last you a lifetime and help you during the course of your career after graduation. However, as with anything else, there are cons to getting your master’s degree prior to your doctorate degree. This is why you should weigh the benefits and costs of whether you should pursue a master’s degree or not before your Doctorate to see which is the right option for you. If you’re unable to come to a decision, no need to worry! The experts at Udrus can help you find out what the right decision is so you can feel secure you are on the correct path!