I just did my bachelors in CS and am looking forward to studying further (I want to pursue a PhD because I love studying). I graduated with a good CGPA and a good overall profile so I think I can get into a good MS program. For my MS I am applying to different universities these days. I have noticed a few universities offering a Co-op degree. As per my understanding in this degree, I would have to work (paid) for a few terms rather than writing a thesis.

My question is whether or not I should opt for a Co-op degree as I'm afraid it might hinder my chance of getting into a good PhD program? Don't good PhD programs prefer students with prior research experience (in other words students that have done their MS with thesis/research option)?

  • I don't see how your comment is relevant or helpful to the discussion? I made that statement to try and emphasize how passionate i am about pursuing further education.
    – A_CS_Guy
    Mar 12, 2020 at 7:30
  • No it is not relevant but to draw your attention that your statement is not objective.
    – Yacine
    Mar 12, 2020 at 7:35

1 Answer 1


Because the PhD is a research degree, admissions committees want to see from your application that you'll be able to be successful in research. This is easily demonstrated through prior research experience, which many students get while completing a Master's thesis. There are other ways to get research experience for people with a Bachelor's degree.

If your motivation for doing a Co-op degree is financial, you might consider looking into other methods to get research experience. Perhaps you can work as a research assistant while taking courses, or, if your University permits, do your Co-ops in a research lab in the industry. You might even spend some time after the Master's degree as a research assistant in the industry or at a national research lab. A Co-op degree certainly won't preclude you from getting your PhD in the future.

But if your motivation for doing a Master's degree is just to position yourself for a PhD program, I would recommend putting research experience as your first priority, and evaluating the various programs you're interested in based on how likely you are to graduate having done interesting research. In addition to gaining the skills necessary to do research, research experience will help you determine what sorts of projects grab and hold your interest, which will make it much easier for you to find a place that you'll enjoy doing your PhD at.

So, to summarize, research experience is very helpful for getting into a PhD program, and a Master's thesis will certainly provide that opportunity, but a Co-op program won't preclude the opportunity for research experience, although it might make the path more difficult.

  • Theoretically speaking, would it be possible for a person to be doing a co-op program and doing research/writing a thesis side by side? or is that an unrealistic goal?
    – A_CS_Guy
    Mar 13, 2020 at 6:05
  • That sounds realistic to me, particularly if you're able to connect with a professor/lab while taking courses.
    – Bagley
    Mar 18, 2020 at 6:51

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