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master's degrees and changing schools for phd

Posted: Sat Jun 07, 2008 9:41 pm
by stardust
For those who got master's degrees, when you go to apply for a phd program
are they going to ask, well why didn't you just stay at the same institution
for a phd? Is it viewed as a transfer when you get a masters and change schools
for a phd? It there an underlying assumpution of any kind that if may be the
default master's given to qualifier flunkies?

OR is it all good and no problems. I'm just trying to decide if I want to
apply for a master's first or wait and then apply for phd programs.


Re: master's degrees and changing schools for phd

Posted: Sun Jun 08, 2008 1:01 am
by grae313
Most highly ranked PhD granting institutions do not offer a terminal masters degree. In this case, a masters degree is most typically given if you decide not to go the whole way or flunk the qual. If you got your masters from one of these types of institutions then yes, they probably would wonder why you didn't go the whole way (since no one is supposed to enter these programs with the intent of only getting a masters). Unless you had a compelling reason to want to transfer, they would be free to assume the worst. However, if you got your masters degree from a terminal masters program, it would look completely normal.

The difference is, PhD programs pay you, while you pay the masters programs. If you are admitted to a PhD program, you are funded, and the school's investment in you is expected to be returned by your productive PhD research and your successful career afterwards. Entering into that with the plan of leaving in two years with a masters is viewed as unethical by many. On the other hand, many people who's applications aren't quite as strong as they would like get their masters from a terminal program as a launching pad to a better PhD program, so this is a much more viable route if you think you want to get your masters first.

Re: master's degrees and changing schools for phd

Posted: Sun Jun 08, 2008 6:38 pm
by christopher3.14
My graduate (master's degree) school didn't grant PhD's in physics, so for me it was easy. I just explained that the PhD is my primary goal and that can only happen by moving on to the school in question.

As for the transferring process and reasons for it, I think there's been posts about this in the past with a lot of input.