Everything you need to know about skipping your master’s and going straight to a PhD degree
Everyone tends to think that the typical way that university goes is first pursuing your bachelor’s degree, then your master’s degree and then going on to study a PhD degree. However, that doesn’t always have to be the case. Some students decide to forego studying for a master’s degree and instead go straight on to a PhD degree. Didn’t know that was an option and think that sounds pretty tempting for you? No need to worry, we’ve got you covered! Here’s everything you need to know about skipping your master’s degree and going straight to a PhD degree.
Reasons why you might want to skip your master’s
First, it’s important to discuss the reasons why you might decide to skip and not study a master’s degree prior to taking on your PhD degree. For example, many students may have already covered the coursework taken during a master’s degree. Here are some other reasons why students might want to skip their master’s and head straight to a doctorate degree:
They’ve already covered Master’s coursework
The first reason why students forego a master’s degree is that they’ve already covered coursework that is taken during a certain master’s degree. This allows them to skip the program and start a PhD degree right away if that’s a possibility. This is usually more common if you have an undergraduate degree in a completely different area than your intended grad school one or if you want to study a specific discipline where you won’t need general education courses, like the ones typically offered during the course of a master’s degree. Most schools won’t automatically give you master’s credits for your old courses, but they might allow you to take tests to prove your knowledge in an area and then let you waive certain courses, or even go directly to a PhD degree if you qualify!
They don’t require a Master’s degree for their intended career path
Another reason why students might skip a master’s degree is that it might not be needed for the career path they intend to follow. For example, some careers like law and medicine, don’t require a master’s degree but require the following degree at the postgraduate level to be able to work in the field. Because it’s expensive to study medicine or law, students will try to take shortcuts if master’s degrees aren’t required to avoid paying more tuition that isn’t necessary or make their debts easier to handle.
They need funding
Funding is another reason to skip on a master’s degree. This is because master’s degrees typically don’t have good funding programs or scholarships- as opposed to PhD degrees, which are often free due to stipends and grants. Funding for a master’s program can be so hard to find, while finding a grant, scholarship or teaching position to cover your PhD is usually pretty simple, as PhD students are very high in demand.
Benefits of going straight to a PhD degree
Next, let’s discuss the benefits of going straight to a PhD degree as there are several. In some countries like the US, you don’t need a master’s degree to join most PhD programs. In fact, it’s pretty typical to join a doctorate program straight out of your bachelor’s degree. This is also becoming more common for students who want to study in Canada. There’s also the option in some countries to take a “fast track” master’s degree program that lets you go on to a PhD degree without fulfilling all master’s degree requirements so you can keep your eyes peeled for that option too.
Without further ado, here are some of the benefits of choosing not to study a master’s degree and instead go on to pursue a PhD degree right away:
Many PhD degree programs don’t care whether you’ve pursued a master’s degree or not when it comes to the time frame of the program. That means that pursuing a master’s degree beforehand doesn’t actually decrease the number of years you will be required to commit to the PhD program. So that means on top of your master’s degree, which usually lasts anywhere from 1 to 3 years depending on where you choose to study, you’ll still do a regular five to seven-year PhD program, no matter the previous degrees you have under your belt. This means that if it’s an option for you, and possible for the PhD program of your choice, taking your PhD right after you study a bachelor’s degree is a fast choice that saves you plenty of time! After all, time is money, especially in the working world…
Many funding options
Spending less money on your degree is another benefit to going straight to a PhD degree. Instead of paying for a master’s program, that you probably won’t be able to find funding for, you can instead go directly to your PhD program. PhD programs typically have plenty of funding options, and most offer graduate students partial or full funding for their studies. Some may even pay you pocket money to cover the costs of living on top of this tuition discount. You can also find numerous external funds and scholarships to help you fund your PhD degree. From national grants to fellowships, funding programs always favour PhD work over master’s programs, so it’ll be simple to find a suitable funding option for you.
No project time constraints
Another benefit to pursuing a PhD degree right away without a master’s one is the fact that there are no time constraints when it comes to projects and research. For example, during your master’s degree, you typically have one semester or one year maximum to complete your research project so you have to pick a very specific research question to answer. However, in a PhD project, you can go for long-term projects that you can truly dive into and do many experiments, studies and fieldwork. PhD students can usually carry out longer projects and with more fruitful results so if you want to carry out a long and deep project then skipping your master’s degree may be the way to go. This may also be the case if you already know what your research interests are and want to dive straight into them and not waste time doing a master’s degree first.
Study at one location
Finally, studying at only one study location can be another benefit to skipping your master’s degree and going straight on to your PhD degree. If you skip your master’s, that means you’ll only study at the school of your PhD degree, only moving schools once after your bachelor’s degree. This can have benefits as moving is time consuming, tiring and expensive. This is more-so the case if you are studying abroad and just want to get your education done in one location.
How to skip a Master’s and directly study a PhD degree
If you want to skip your master’s degree and study your PhD right away, there are three ways you can do so in most cases. We will cover the cases by study destination at each of the top study destinations in the next section. Here are the three ways to skip a master’s degree and pursue a doctorate without it:
First, you can enroll in a PhD program directly from your undergraduate degree. If you are sure you want a PhD degree and you know exactly what you want to do your research on, this might be a great option for you. You also need to be confident in your research abilities as research for your PhD usually requires you to be self sustainable and independent so you have to have top-notch advanced research skills to do well with little guidance. You should also make sure that the program of your choice allows you to bypass a master’s degree to join the program if you are qualified.
Integrated PhD degree Program
Second, you can join an integrated PhD program, sometimes known as an Integrated Master’s degree program. This degree path is usually a four year program that is made up of a one year master’s degree with a three year PhD program. This is a good option if you want to get a PhD and skip your master’s degree but your program doesn’t allow that or 6ou haven’t fulfilled the necessary requirements that allow you to join the program.
Upgraded master’s degree
Third, you can just upgrade the master’s degree program you are studying. This is an option especially in science related programs, as they could allow you to upgrade your master’s Thesis to become a PhD dissertation. If you have an area of research that you feel can truly benefit the world and is very deep, you could ask your supervisor if this could an option for you. However, for that to be the case, your research topic needs to be fruitful enough to have academic engagement at the doctorate level.
Skipping your master’s degree by country
Finally, we will discuss what it means to skip your master’s degree by country. In most European countries, for example, a master’s degree is necessary for your PhD unless you took a bachelor’s degree that needed four or more years to complete. This was the case before the Bologna agreement that unified bachelor’s degrees in European universities so it might be hard to find a bachelor’s degree that follows this rule nowadays. However, like we said before, in the US and Canada, skipping your master’s degree is a common occurrence. It truly differs by study destination.
The United Kingdom
If you want to study in the UK, you might be able to go straight to a PhD program if you get an Honours Bachelor of Science or a 2:2. Some universities in the UK will allow you to join a PhD program directly without a master’s degree if you have this bachelor’s degree, so if you study this degree, it could be a good option for you.
In Germany, there’s also the chance to join a fast-track master’s program and go directly to a PhD degree. This means you can join a one year short master’s program that prepares you for a doctorate degree, right after your bachelor’s degree. Be sure to check if the PhD program of your choice has this “fast track” option if you are interested in skipping your master’s program.
If you will study in Canada, most PhD’s will need you to have pursued a master’s degree first. However, you can find a fast track option to transfer to your Doctorate after you have completed just one year of master’s. This is the case when you study a master’s of science degree in certain university programs so keep your eyes open if you choose to study in Canada as this can be a viable option for you.
When it comes to Australia, you can usually find the rules being like the UK. In general, unless you have acquired a master’s of research you won’t be able to join a PhD program. However, like the UK, if you graduate from your science bachelor’s degree with an Honours, or a double major degree, you might be able to forego your master’s studies and be considered for a PhD degree.
Finally, the exception to the rule is the USA. Opposite to many other countries, it’s actually uncommon to pursue a master’s degree before a PhD degree. This is because in American universities, a master’s degree isn’t a strict requirement for a PhD degree. However, you should keep in mind that doctorate studies in the USA can last you anywhere between 6 to 8 years, while you can finish the same postgraduate degree in the EU in 3 to 4 years.
When all’s been said and done, there are many benefits to skipping your master’s degree and going straight on to your PhD degree. There are also several reasons why you might choose to do so, from needing funding to already covering the master’s degree coursework prior. Sometimes, based on the study destination you have chosen, it might be easy to forego your master’s degree -or it might even be abnormal to pursue one before your PhD degree at study destinations like the US! That’s why you should always look into all options relating to the host country of your choice if you are interested to take a shortcut to your PhD program to see what is viable for you. If you still feel confused about what’s the right option for you, the educational experts at Udrus can give you a bit more information to help you make your decision easier!