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Reasons to Do an MSc before a PhD

Are you looking to do a PhD? Do you have an MSc already? If not, here are Reasons to Do an MSc before a PhD.

Some of you will say: But wait! Isn’t an MSc compulsory if you want to do a PhD? And some of you have probably never even considered an MSc before a PhD. So… what’s the deal? It all boils down to which nation you are schooling in.

Ways to skip an MSc program and jump directly to a Ph.D.

In most EU countries, an MSc degree is a necessary requirement if you want to apply for Ph.D, so you have reasons to do an MSc before a PhD.

Let us take a look at some of the top study destinations all over the world and see how you can enrol for a Ph.D. degree  program without graduating aMSc.

Study a Ph.D. in the U.K.

In the UK, you might be able to apply for a Ph.D. program if you possess a 2:2 Honours Bachelor of Science degree. Some higher academic institutions, like the University of Liverpool, for instance, even permit you to enrol in a Ph.D. program without requiring an MSc degree. 

Study a Ph.D. in Canada

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Like in Europe, most Ph.D. degrees in Canada require you to have graduated An MSc. However, just like Germany, they also run a kind of fast-track option which enables you to transfer to a Ph.D. after just one year of Master’s provided that it is an M.Sc. type of degree.

Study a Ph.D. in Australia

Australia is much like the UK. Generally, you need a Master of Research to apply to a doctoral programme. However, if you finished from your Bachelor’s degree with an Honours or double degree you could still be given consideration for a Ph.D.

Study a Ph.D. in the USA

The big exception is, however, the USA.  It is actually very uncommon for students to do an MSc before their Ph.D. That is due to the fact that American universities do not have this as a strict criteria. Also, it is true that doctoral programs in the USA take anywhere between 6 and 8 years while in the EU, they are structured to last 3-4 years.

Reasons to Do an MSc before a PhD

Ok, so now you’re thinking, ‘with the exception of EU countries where I can’t do a PhD without an MSc, is there any reason why I should go for two additional years of Master’s studies?’

Plenty, we say. But here are the 4 key Reasons to Do an MSc before a PhD.

1. An MSc helps you check if you can commit to a Ph.D. – Reasons to Do an MSc before a PhD

During an undergraduate degree you will typically study general aspects of your chosen subject and you will specialise only a little bit through your final thesis or graduation project.

Even if you like a study field or career path, you cannot be sure if it is really for you until you engage more into the subject. Considering that a Ph.D. without an MSc requires about 6 years of commitment, wouldn’t it be better to be sure?

Because it is specialised and research-oriented, an MSc puts you face to face with what you’re planning to beat your brain with for quite some time.

2. You’ll get better positions as a Ph.D. vs an MSc – Reasons to Do an MSc before a PhD

If you have an MSc degree, you are just one or two years older than a B.A. holder but you’ll have much more experience that you can use in your doctoral project. And universities are not immune to that. It is a well-known fact that graduate schools tend to favour candidates with an MSc, even in situations where an MSc is not an absolute requirement.

Another way an MSc works in your favour is if you don’t have an above-average academic track record. If you have lower grades in your Bachelor’s studies, graduating magna cum laude (or close) from an MSc will certainly turn the tide in your favour.

3.  An MSc is the only way to a Ph.D. in a new field – Reasons to Do an MSc before a PhD

It does not matter where you want to pursue a Ph.D., if you don’t have the right academic background in a connected subject area, chances of being accepted to a Ph.D. are little to zero. So, if you wish to switch careers and go for a subject at a doctoral level you will required a graduate programme to get you ready for it.  An MSc degree does not only introduce to your new study field, but it does so in a more specialised way.

4. An MSc can help you finish doctorate programmes faster – Reasons to Do an MSc before a PhD

In some departments, graduate schools and faculties, an MSc does not only mean investing two extra years in your education. Quite the contrary, it might buy you time. Particularly in the United States and Canada, but not only, you could be able to transfer some of the credits you obtained during your Master’s degree towards a PhD. This can result in considerably reducing the time you spend getting your PhD.

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