I have recently completed my undergraduate degree, and am interested in pursuing a master's and potentially an eventual doctorate.

I have been looking at affordable online degrees such as the following:

Are these types of degrees (all of which are purely coursework and do not require a thesis) considered to be more "professional" masters programs that cannot lead to a PhD or could one get a PhD after the completion of one of these programs?

1 Answer 1


These are professional masters programs.

My department (Illinois) does not consider even our own online MCS program to be preparation for a PhD, because there is no requirement—and therefore in practice almost no opportunity—for research experience.

Moreover, it is unlikely that any instructor of an online course can provide useful recommendation letters for their students for PhD programs, because useful letters generally require direct, personal, one-on-one interaction. Sure, they can write a letter describing your class performance, but such letters are nearly useless; we can already see your grades on your transcript.

  • I think a "no" was missing; apologies if I was incorrect.
    – Bryan Krause
    Sep 5, 2019 at 19:40
  • @JeffE Thanks for your response! If an online master's program did include a thesis option, would the fact that it is online still preclude it from leading to a PhD? Sep 5, 2019 at 20:10
  • 1
    @JaredForth I’m not aware of any online masters program with a thesis option, so I think the question is moot.
    – JeffE
    Sep 5, 2019 at 21:12

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