My BSc thesis was on general relativity MY MSc thesis was going to be on modified theories of gravity and cosmology, in hope of pursuing a PhD in this area or similar one day.

I know replies are going to be why would you want to do a PhD in an area you don't want to do master's level research at.

However, modified theories of gravity and cosmology would be my second choice right now, just from brief reading around, I don't think it's going to compare to the excitement of first learning general relativity and I did some reading around for PhD interviews- I got short-listed a fair amount and was told my academia and project description were strong and good enough, but really my lack of enthusiasm let me down-which is the story of my life because I'm a bit shy, anyway, so I just fancy a bit of a break from it, and I was thinking of a topic that involves a bit of pure maths as well as mathematical physics.

I guess pretty much my question is can you get a PhD in an area you didn't do your masters thesis?

Would it significantly lower my chances.

Could it perhaps be the case that I really enjoy my master's thesis and want to pursue a PhD in this instead?


  • I did my MSc in Energy and Automation, and my PhD in Medical Imaging/Inverse Problems. I know someone who did a PhD in Psicology, after her MSc in distributed computing. What you are describing is essentially the same field, in general terms – Ander Biguri May 10 '18 at 13:47

Of course it's possible to change disciplines, particularly when you move from one degree level to another. It's a natural part of life that one's interests change over time, and nobody expects researchers today to engage in a single area of inquiry for their entire careers.


I found your question somewhat hard to read. I hope I can shed some light (on what I think your asking).

It's not like your switching to Roman History. Your research is still in the realm of Mathematics and Physics. I often meet people who did their MSc in pure Mathematics that then switch to Medical Physics.

So in my opinion, it is irrelevant. You just may need to spend more time getting an appropriate background in the field. The most important aspect of attempting a PhD, is to be fascinated by it. If your not interested in your PhD project, good luck with the next 4-5 years!

  • Waiting for this comment 😂 did I say I'm not interested ? Qué my ban from this website, but why is everyone so snobby and anal 😂😷 – yourlazyphysicist May 11 '18 at 7:25
  • Are you the same person that wrote the question? Anywho, hope you have a great day. – Shinobii May 11 '18 at 12:43

The question should be instead: if my MSc is in area A, can I be admitted to the PhD program in area B? In general, the answer is "yes" if you have the prerequisites for the PhD program in area B.

I do know examples of people with previous work in physics, computer science, or engineering that have been admitted to PhD programs in mathematics. The condition was that, during their studies in those other areas, they learned enough mathematics.

I even know a top student in mathematics, admitted to the PhD program in mathematics at Harvard, who then turned around and did a PhD in political science at Harvard.

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