I did a bachelor's degree in a creative industries subject (Audio Technology) because at the time, I didn't know what to do with my future so I decided to do a "hobby" (regretful, to an extent but many skills gained are transferable).

However, I am now starting my Master's degree in Computing (a conversion course that covers programming, web development, data/systems engineering, business technology and the like).

I am also gaining experience in this area also with my own projects and I already have a sub-field that I'd like to pursue for a PhD which relates more to business technology and technological consumerism - but, am open to other sub-fields also.

I have my mind strongly set to pursue a PhD after my Master's in the same field (or after a few years of industry experience), but I get a little concerned that my rather "weaker" bachelors degree subject (especially since it was split from a foundation degree to a full degree, yet I did receive a high 2:1), will hinder my PhD applications.

Any advice on how I can work around this or what I need to consider to better my applications? Or maybe I have a better chance of doing my PhD at the same university as my Master's?

4 Answers 4


I see that you question has two sides:

  1. The weaknesses of your bachelor topic (as you believe it is): In most of the cases, the bachelor quality is mainly evaluated for the eligibleness of joining a master program. After obtaining a master degree, there will be no concrete need to check the quality of the bachelor, rather the quality of the master thesis.

  2. Working in different topics/fields in bachelor, master and PhD: On the one hand, of course working on the same topic for several years makes you an expert in the field but with a very limited view. On the other hand, it is very common and normal to work on different topics. I personally know a lot of people who did their bachelors in a topic (e.g. Biology) and their PhDs in another topic (e.g. Computer Science).


I personally know someone, who did a diploma (MSc in the Anglo-Saxon world) in biology, did her PhD in physics, and is now on the way to do postdoc in anatomy. Of course, the actual topics were more related, but formally it is the case.

Or someone who did a diploma in mathematics, PhD in philosophy, and a postdoc in computer science – without actually changing the narrow field!


The best way to know if your background is "acceptable" for doctoral study is to actually apply, or speak to a potential supervisor. However, it is natural that as a young person you were seeking for your way in the world. People understand that. The more recent experience and education will be much more relevant to anyone's (or nearly so) evaluation of you.

I wouldn't, myself, be concerned that you haven't been single-minded goal-directed since you were a kid. In fact, some levels of intensity are scary, in a way. I don't know your whole educational program but would guess that an MS in CS is pretty good preparation for a business-tech oriented doctorate. But the only way to know is to put together a plan and show it to an institution or a supervisor.

But, as with anyone applying for a doctorate, you have to make your own case. If nothing else, your early studies (hobby as you call it) helped you focus your direction. If you are sufficiently focused now, doctoral studies requiring focus, you should be fine, provided that you present your case properly.


My understanding is that most undergraduate schools are liberal arts colleges for the very purpose of exposing students to a liberal field of education which by definition would mean that as the student progress through the ranks of academia he/she becomes more refined in his/her life goals. As this personal application is refined it changes course of direction thereby quasi-forcing or encouraging the student to make the academic changes as you described. Hence the goal and intent of the liberal arts institution have been met when the student(s) modify course trajectory based on new learning. If the student does not learn through the learning process, the time spent becomes moot. Case in point the florescent light bulb was invented/discovered when a new engineer was given an out-of-the-norm assignment of creating a light bulb that could generate electrical energy into light without using the traditional metal filament. The successful discover involved the discovery of metal like qualities in mercury. In this case Change became a good thing. Or to quote your own question: "I am also gaining experience in this area also with my own projects"

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