Can you go into a PhD program without a Masters?

In this article we are going to answer the question ‘’Can you go into a PhD program without a Masters?’’ We will define the requirements you need to study a PhD and the importance of doing a master’s degree before a PhD.

Can you go into a PhD program without a Masters?

Yes, you can get into a PhD program without a Masters. However, in other countries it is still a requirement for a PhD.

When you finish your degree, you will surely have asked yourself, “Now what’s next?” Maybe you started working or maybe you considered studying for a graduate degree.

Perhaps you have been working for several years and want a promotion, but the company requires a doctorate degree as a requirement. To continue studying after graduation there are a lot of offers, the question is:

Do I need a Masters? If you have the desire to continue studying and don’t know if you need a master’s degree or a doctorate, keep reading because we will give you some reflections on the matter.

Difference between Masters and PhD

Depending on the objective you want to achieve, there are different academic degrees that will help you achieve it.

To know which is the best option for you, the first step will be to know very well what each one is about, therefore, here we will share the main differences between a bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate.

Bachelor’s degree

A bachelor’s degree is an academic title that you will obtain upon completing a higher education program, that is, your professional career. The duration will be between 4 to 6 years, depending on the profession chosen. In order to obtain this title, it’s required to present a final thesis work.

Master’s degree

A master’s degree is a postgraduate academic degree. In order to take a master’s degree, it’s necessary to have a professional degree, and to obtain a master’s degree, a final project or thesis is required.

The objective of a master’s degree is to achieve a theoretical, technological and professional deepening in a certain area. This postgraduate degree is ideal for those seeking a more professional rather than academic update.

There are two types of Master’s degrees: professional and research. Professional Master’s programs are based on classes and seminars, and as a student, you can choose your own research project. The investigative part is longer and more complex in a research master’s degree, requiring more independent work on the part of the student.

The minimum duration of a master’s degree is 500 hours (between 1 and 2 years).


It’s the maximum degree of a postgraduate degree, and the third cycle of university studies. To access a doctorate, a bachelor’s degree plus a master’s degree is required.

The objective of a doctorate is to acquire research skills that can drive the development of your disciplines. A PhD is designed for those with a profile more inclined towards teaching and research.

In American educational institutions, the doctoral program doesn’t have a rigid and formal time schedule, but is adjusted to the possibilities of the student. On average, students complete the course in 4 to 8 years.

Can you go into a PhD program without a Masters?

In the United States, you don’t need a master’s degree to enter a doctorate. In fact, it’s quite common to go for a PhD fresh out of undergraduate degrees. More and more the number of direct doctoral programs is increasing. 

Of course, you will have to adapt quickly to the pace. It is likely that after your application is approved you will have to go through a hard time, so we recommend:

  1. Define the exact time that we are going to dedicate to the thesis.
  2. Choose a topic that motivates you.
  3. Establish rigid schedules.
  4. Find a trusted director.
  5. Apply a systematic work method.
  6. Seek new sources of funding regularly.
  7. Maintain contact with other doctoral students.

Advantages of going straight to the doctorate

Time: Some universities don’t reduce your doctorate time even if you have a master’s degree. That means you have to complete the 3 years of master’s degree and another 5-7 years of doctorate.

Funding: There are more funding opportunities for doctorates. Partially or totally. As well as opportunities for national and international scholarships that sponsor research work.

Long-Term Projects: Master’s degrees require less time than a Ph.D. This can be a challenge for students to establish the type of project they want, and they will not be able to tackle their topic in depth.

Instead, PhDs go deeper, since they have more time.

Start working right away: If you’re clear about your interests and your research objectives, you can start at once and not delay your PhD.

Moving only once: To do your postgraduate studies, you may have to move to another city. If you do your master’s degree in one city and for your postgraduate degree you must move to another can be complicated.

Will still earn a Master’s: In fact, graduate students often receive a Masters for their time spent in the program.

Why is it important to do a master’s degree before a doctorate?

  1. A master’s program helps you determine if you are ready to do a Ph.D.

During the undergraduate degree we are more focused on acquiring knowledge of our career, and it’s not until the end that we pay attention to our research project: the final thesis.

Even if you know you love your career, you can’t fully know if it’s your thing until you delve into the subject.

Consider that a doctorate is a giant commitment, up to 5 years of your professional life, it would be better to make sure that you want to enter the research path by completing a Master.

Doing a master’s degree opens the door to the path of research you are considering, it gives you a reality check for a good period of time.

A master’s degree is a more specialized study program than a bachelor’s degree. If you adapt to the pace of the master’s degree, the study program, the time and the motivation, it is a good sign that you can start a doctorate.

  1. Right before you start thinking about a PhD degree. Remember that you will get good positions like Ph.D. if you come through Masters.

A master will give you more experience that you will undoubtedly use in your PhD. And the universities recognize that. Some universities favor students with a master’s degree in admission, even if it’s not a requirement.

If you didn’t perform well on your bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree can help you improve, leaving behind any negative effects your bachelor’s degree may have left behind.

3.   A master’s program helps change your field of study into your Ph.D.

If your field of study in the bachelor’s degree doesn’t appeal to you any more, you can make a shift in your master’s degree. This will allow you to choose any other topic in Ph.D, the one you want. If you don’t have the master, this opportunity will not be available.

4.   A Master has the ability to help you finish your PhD. faster program, than graduated with a Ph.D.

At some universities, a Master doesn’t just mean spending 2 years on your education. If your goal is to do a PhD, a Master can give you an advantage.

In countries like the United States and Canada, certain universities allow you to count credits from your Master to your PhD. This will allow you to reduce the time of your PhD. Even if you cannot transfer your credits, a Master in itself reduces the time you spend on your doctorate.

5.   Withdrawing from the program

If you decide to withdraw from the extensive PhD program, you would actually leave empty-handed. Since you would leave without a doctorate and without a Master.

What do I need to get into a PhD program?

Statement of Purpose

This is the most important point: although it may seem that the decisive elements are the grades of the career and those of GRE.

But, universities place great importance on the fact of presenting a good Statement of Purpose and good letters of recommendation. It consists of a document of 2 to 5 pages in length in which the student presents the strengths of his candidacy.

Recommendation letters

All American universities ask for two or three letters of recommendation written by professors, researchers or professionals who have worked with the student. It is one of the most important documents that the student must present.

It’s necessary to communicate to the people who are going to write how important they are for your admission.

GRE (Graduate Record Examination)

The GRE (Graduate Record Examination) is an exam of general and specific knowledge aimed at students who wish to be admitted to postgraduate studies.

There are two types of GRE (and you probably have to do both): the basic one (GRE General Test) and the one oriented to the student’s own subject (GRE Subject Test).

GRE General Test

Measures the student’s ability in three aspects: English, mathematics and logic. It’s not related to the subjects studied by the student during the career.

It’s a fairly basic exam (some questions are high school level or even simpler), which plays with lack of time as the main difficulty. It has three parts:

1) Verbal: measures the knowledge of English. Must answer 38 questions in 30 minutes.

2) Quantitative: measures the knowledge of student mathematics. It consists of 30 questions that you have to respond to within 30 minutes.

3) Analytical: measures the logical capacity of the student. There are 25 questions to answer in 30 minutes.

GRE Subject Test

It can be done in sixteen different areas: Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Economics, Revised Education, Engineering, Geology, History, Literature in English, Mathematics, Music, Physics, Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology.

They try to measure the knowledge of the student in her particular area. As indicated above, the area in which the GRE Subject Test must be carried out in your bachelor’s degree or in the field of your PhD.

It’s convenient to read the rules of the admission application form or ask each department directly.

Now, are you ready to go straight into a PhD? Or do you prefer to adapt a little with a Master?

Remember to carefully evaluate your goals, no one but you will know what is best for you.

FAQS: Can you go into a PhD program without a Masters?

Can you get into a PhD program without a Masters?

Yes, as we develop in the article, you can get into a PhD without a Master.

Do I need a Masters to apply for a PhD?

Not necessarily. But maybe you will need the academic contributions of the Master for your PhD.

Is it easier to get into a masters or PhD program?

Yes, it’s easier to get into a masters. Doctoral programs are highly competitive and you must have excelled in research during your career to be approved for a PhD program.

What is the easiest PhD to get?

There is no ‘’easier PhD’’.The reality is that your research should contribute to the scientific community and to your own interests. Everything will depend on the theme you take.

Is a PhD better than a masters?

The master has its advantages: it is cheaper and with less time you can differentiate yourself in a field of specialization.

However, the doctorate is the highest degree of education.


Master’s vs. Doctorate Degrees: Which is Right For You? (2020). Retrieved October 1, 2020, from website:’s%20degrees,to%20fill%20industry%20knowledge%20gaps.

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