I'm doing a master's degree in theoretical physics in Europe. After the end of the master, I want to pursue research in the area A. In fact, I've already come in contact with a professor that works in the area A in a different country.

The problem is, I'm struggling to find an advisor for a possible master thesis about the field A. I contacted roughly 6-7 professors at my university already and they either: 1) are too busy and don't want to start a new project, or 2) are not interested in what I want to do because they only accept projects strictly related to their recent research interests, or 3) don't answer my emails (after 2 weeks of waiting).

I'm considering to accept a master thesis in a different area B due to these reasons.

How would it be seen from the point of view of a prospective PhD advisor?


2 Answers 2


Can you ask your prospective PhD advisor? Surely it is not impossible to change areas between masters and PhD, but for some topics some earlier experience may be very helpful. So it depends.

As a supervisor, I'd not normally expect a PhD student to have worked in the same area before, although I had two PhD students who had done this, and it was actually a good thing; and in one case I wish a student would have learnt more about the area of their topic before the actual start, but you can do that even if your thesis is in a different field. Most students who "switched" had successful projects as well, so I wouldn't expect this to be a big problem, but there is still a possibility that a supervisor prefers a student with more experience in the same area, if available.


This depends a lot on how the degree is structured in your field and in your place of study. If you are required to obtain an advisor to take you on in order to start, then it is their answer to this question that is the only important one. Different people will judge differently.

However, if the admissions process is more general, as it is in most fields in the US, then there is little need to continue in the same field as long as you are willing to take the courses necessary to get you up to speed in the new field.

But, from your question, it sounds like you are in the first situation, unless you want to move. If that is the situation, then you need to find an advisor who is convinced that you have the necessary background. That might require that your doctoral field is closely related to your masters work, though it isn't necessarily the case.

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