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Question about Masters and Doctorate degrees





gandalfthegrey
My friend asked me a question that I did not have an answer for. I thought I'd pass it along and see if anyone else could provide an answer?

Is there anyway to get a doctorate degree without a masters degree first? Does anyone know if any university or faculty would even consider this?

I told her the answer is likely no, but I thought I'd ask anyway.
SonLight
I'm not too sure of the answer either, but I don't think a masters degree is actually a prerequisite for a doctors. In most cases, however, you would meet the requirements for a masters in the process of working toward the doctorate -- so why not get the degree?

I would be willing to bet there are a few cases every year where due to unusual circumstances the masters degree is not obtained.

I am thinking about this in terms of a standard PH. D. degree. If you consider other degrees at the doctorate level, there are lots of cases where a masters degree is not normally obtained as a prerequisite. I believe MD, D. Div, and probably several others exist where a masters is usually not obtained prior to the doctorate.
Afaceinthematrix
Yes. For the most part, in the United States, that is how it works for all mathematics and science degrees. Actually, in the United States, master degrees are quite frowned upon in science and it actually hurt you - especially if you ever decide to go on for the Ph.D.

When you apply to graduate school for mathematics or science in the United States, most of the time you're applying for a Ph.D. program. You can apply for a master's program but that is undesirable for several reasons. First, Ph.D. programs are free. You'll be a teaching assistant for a few professors in undergraduate classes and you'll do research the entire time that you're a graduate student. You have to pay to go for a master's degree. Also, you won't get to do research and have your work published. As a Ph.D. student, you'll work under a professor - who will be your "adviser."

Now if you're in graduate school going for a Ph.D. and you fail your qualifying exams, then you're just given a master's degree. This is, of course, undesirable because you were going for a Ph.D. So many universities, and even other jobs, will look down at a master's degree because they will assume that you may have failed at a Ph.D. and why would you apply to a graduate school without wanting to apply for the Ph.D. program?

Now if you're at the university and you are in the Ph.D. program, you'll go straight for the Ph.D. and not get the master's degree...
daredninja
You could also donate a bunch of money and get an honorary doctorate Razz
coolclay
You definitely don't need a masters to get your PhD. Also Afaceinthematrix you are incorrect about the funding thing. At least in the science field many schools also offer assistanceships or fellowships for those pursuing masters degrees as well they are just harder to get the PhD students. I will hopefully be attending school next year for my masters, as long as I find a school with research that I would be interested in doing, and I get an teaching assistanceship.
deanhills
Afaceinthematrix wrote:
Yes. For the most part, in the United States, that is how it works for all mathematics and science degrees. Actually, in the United States, master degrees are quite frowned upon in science and it actually hurt you - especially if you ever decide to go on for the Ph.D.
I don't understand how you can say that master degrees are frowned upon in the United States? It most certainly will help a student who wants to do a PhD and will count in favour of the student when applying to do a PhD. I agree it is not an absolute requirement, but it can be good in the medical field for example where there are plenty of Masters programmes in Public Health for example that are sought after credentials when those people apply for Board Certification for example. If there are two people applying to do a PhD at a University, and only one can be accepted, then a Masters Degree would set any of the two apart. That, together with number of years of relevant experience as well as research papers that have already been written on the topic that they would like to specialize in. It would be very difficult to be accepted into a PhD programme straight from doing a BSc for example.

This is a typical CV listing for someone who is a mathematician/statistician with a PhD. I've extracted this one from someone from the United States but can't provide the source as it is confidential:
Quote:
Ph.D., Statistics, University.
M.A., Statistics, University.
M.A., Mathematics, University.
B.A., Mathematics and Economics, University. Graduated summa cum laude.
PureReborn
It's possible to be accepted into a PhD program without finishing a master's previously, although this is very rare and only done at certain universities. (Of course also dependent very much on the field).

I know it is not possible for Math, but have seen cases for Computer Science here at Waterloo.
ibeadorkable
I am currently in the process of apply to graduate programs, in clinical health psychology and in public health, and some of them are masters/PhD programs. You get accepted after you get your BA/BS and then are in the program assuming you are going all the way for your PhD., but of course after you complete the requirements for a masters, you could stop there. It also depends on whether or not you are in a thesis or non-thesis program.
Afaceinthematrix
coolclay wrote:
You definitely don't need a masters to get your PhD. Also Afaceinthematrix you are incorrect about the funding thing. At least in the science field many schools also offer assistanceships or fellowships for those pursuing masters degrees as well they are just harder to get the PhD students. I will hopefully be attending school next year for my masters, as long as I find a school with research that I would be interested in doing, and I get an teaching assistanceship.


Well of course you can get scholarships - just like you can get scholarships for an undergraduate studies. But my main point is that the school completely takes care of it if you're in a PhD program. You don't have to apply for aid, you're just given it. Also, you usually get a stipend since you're teaching lower division courses and doing research. So you're also able to pay for your living expenses...

Quote:
I don't understand how you can say that master degrees are frowned upon in the United States?


It is frowned upon for the exact reason that I already said. If you have a master's degree in a science field, then employers or even schools may assume that you failed at a PhD program or that you weren't qualified enough to get into one.
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