I have been asked today whether it’s possible to do a PhD without having dome a masters first. The short answer to this question is yes, it is possible. The long answer is that there are a few considerations that you will need to make.
- Progressing to a PhD without a Masters is easier in some areas than others, and different universities might have different requirements. Check with the university or universities that you are interested in.
- Make sure that you want to do a PhD for the right reasons. Do you have a passion for research and seek an intellectual challenge? Do you need to do a PhD to achieve your career plans?
- The likelihood of being accepted for a PhD or successfully secure funding really depend on the interest that your proposal generates, or the demand that exists in your chosen area. If you are on your final year of your undergraduate degree, your personal tutor might be the best person to run this by. Get their input on your proposal and test how interesting they think this is.
- Going directly from an undergraduate degree to a PhD might present a disadvantage: if you have done a masters, it’s more likely that you will have identified your strengths that will help you to study at that level. An extensive dissertation will have given you the chance to hone your research skills, and will have given you a flavour of what a career in academia might be like. If you haven’t done a Masters, it might be a good idea to reflect on what evidence you have that indicates that you will be good at researching and that you will enjoy it.
- In any case, you will have to be a good networker. It’s vital to keep an open dialogue with the universities of your interest and to seek their advice and input. If you have relevant contacts in academia, your contacts to gauge the interest that your proposal would elicit, and ask about any sources of funding that they might be aware of.
For more information about applying for PhDs, go to http://www.findaphd.com/advice/finding/phd-faqs.aspx