I was recently admitted into a PhD program, and am currently a MSc Student. Both me and my advisor expected me to graduate this spring, which would mark the 4th semester. Because of that, I applied to PhD programs, and got into a good one. But now I think I might need a bit longer to complete the Thesis portion of it; I could switch to MA which is course based and head on to PhD 1) I am not sure if they will still accept me if I do not have an MSc (the strength of my application was the skills I learned during my thesis) and 2) I want to finish my thesis, because well, I want to publish the results and am interested in it.

What are my options? Many programs do not allow deference, and getting into a PhD program is so hard to begin with.

Thank you for your time.

  • 4
    Probably only the university who have offered you a PhD place can really tell you what your options are.
    – Tara B
    Jan 15, 2014 at 1:55

2 Answers 2


I don't know the details of your situation, but the conventional advice would probably be:

  1. Pound out a thesis that's good enough for your advisor to let you graduate. It doesn't need to be outstanding or publishable, or include every idea you've considered. It just has to get you the masters.

  2. Start your PhD program on time.

  3. If the project still interests you, continue working on it in your spare time. Stay in contact with your masters advisor. When it's far enough along to publish, do so (perhaps with your masters advisor as a co-author).


To add to what Nate said, explain your entire situation to your thesis advisor. You might be surprised how sympathetic they are and willing to give advice on how to get through the minimum. Unfortunately, a lot of PhD studies is about getting through the minimum.

I have just myself reached the point where I can stop taking classes and focus on my research, but that took almost two years beyond my masters... so basically 4 years of graduate 400/500 level coursework.

First and second years went like this: get excited about classes starting, first week introductions and orientation, gradually become consumed by all the coursework, become a zombie from lack of sleep, taper off and start to question my sanity, then blitz to the end to finish final projects. In my 3rd and 4th years, I was on my iPad halfway listening to the lecture because the coursework was like a programming language: same principals with a different syntax.

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