I've realized that I wouldn't have the funds to finish a master's in Computer engineering, especially considering the fact that I have a non-STEM degree so l would have to take prerequisite classes so I can catch up on the material. To be noted, I have some CS research but other then that that is the most CS/CEN exposure I have. So I would like to know the feasibility of doing a PhD in Computer Engineering without either a B.S. or M.S. in CS/CEN.

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    Depends what you studied. From Philosophy, I'd say no way, from Electrical engineering perhaps yes. Also some countries require a MSc for a PhD and some others just a BSc. Commented Jun 4, 2018 at 9:16
  • It is hard to offer much if any encouragement. I'm curious, though, about why you want to do this. What is it about this particular degree that will get you to your goals that something else for which you are better prepared wouldn't do? There are places that grant a doctorate with only two requirements: pass the prelims and write an acceptable dissertation. But finding an advisor even there would require extraordinary other qualifications of some kind I think. Prelims are usually pretty hard to pass without the coursework.
    – Buffy
    Commented Jul 6, 2018 at 0:32

1 Answer 1


I do not think you are going to get a PhD from a reputable university without demonstrating general knowledge of your field at least equivalent to a master's degree. There are two common approaches:

  • Applicants prove they already have that general knowledge, usually by reference to their prior degrees, and the PhD program is research only.
  • Applicants may have a lesser level of knowledge, but the program includes coursework as well as research.

For the second approach, you still need to convince the university that you are a good prospect to learn the required material in a reasonable time.

Someone with a STEM degree is a much better prospect because they have learned and applied relatively advanced mathematics. Most universities will be able to fill their PhD program with people who already have at least a bachelor's degree in the actual subject, and so meet most of the prerequisites for the graduate courses.

Some universities do not enforce prerequisites on PhD coursework if you have the knowledge and skills. I did take several graduate courses without having taken the prerequisite undergraduate courses, but I had extensive practical experience, as well as having studied academic papers and textbooks.

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