I'm interested in Neuroscience research but haven't quite made up my mind about what sub-field I want to specialize in. I think taking courses from various sub-fields will help me take a decision. Should I go for a Masters first or a PhD directly? If I go for a PhD, will I have enough time at the beginning of my PhD to explore different areas and then choose a supervisor, say after around 2 years into the program?

  • possibly, but there people gave quite generalized answers, whereas I think warmzombie is looking for a more specialized answer in Neuroscience – dayuloli Jun 2 '13 at 9:29
  • 1
    I agree with @EnergyNumbers. The merit of that question is exactly the same as this one. – scaaahu Jun 2 '13 at 10:13

There are two different types of Masters - taught masters and research masters.

In England, a research masters allows you to work, on rotation, around 3 labs in the year, and you can pick and choose from different sub-fields. This is hugely beneficial because it exposes you to different sub-fields, but more importantly because it exposes you to different work dynamics and environments, allow you to cope better in your PhD; furthermore, you'll make more contacts (which is all that matters in research - reputation and recommendations) and learn from different people. It'll give you the confidence to know, during your PhD, whether you are right or wrong.

The downside is that it takes you one more year and there is no guarantee you'll get a PhD after, and there is also the extra cost - most funding bodies do not fund a one year masters. However, if you apply for a 4-year Masters with PhD, funding options are more generous.

I can only speak for England, unsure about other countries, but the same principles apply. (my own opinion is that MRes is good if you can afford it)

  • The question on the other page asks about Mathematics, and this is on life sciences? Anyways, I've answered it and if the question is a duplicate, not my problem. – dayuloli Jun 2 '13 at 10:21
  • 1
    Correct me if I am wrong, but I always imagine different fields having different course structures, and all I tried to do is answer it in the life sciences perspective, rather than say, computer science. If you don't like the answer, just vote it down. – dayuloli Jun 2 '13 at 11:05
  • My answer is pretty much specific to life sciences, if it turns out that it isn't and other fields share the same structure (the lab rotations) then I've learnt something new today. (I would appreciate it if you can tell me other fields that have lab rotations - because I honestly wouldn't have a clue) – dayuloli Jun 2 '13 at 11:13
  • In UK, would PhD students have lab rotation opportunity? – scaaahu Jun 2 '13 at 13:55
  • No, in the UK, you stick with one lab. There might be collaborations between labs, but there is no rotations. – dayuloli Jun 2 '13 at 14:01

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.