I want to apply for a Master's degree in computer science in Italy. I noticed that some Master's programs in Italy give you less than one semester to work on your thesis.

My goal is to apply for a Ph.D. program afterward. Considering that your thesis and having good publications are very important for Ph.D. programs, is it a good choice for me to choose a university in Italy that gives me only one semester to prepare my thesis? In many universities, in the second year of a Master's degree, you don't have any courses, and you only work on your thesis, which means you will probably prepare a better thesis and have more time to publish a few papers.

Now you might say why I am asking a question when I know the answer. Because I came across a few universities with an excellent overall rank and computer science rank, but if I choose them, I'll have less than one semester for my thesis. If I want to choose a university that offers a whole year to work on a thesis, I cant choose the universities I mentioned earlier.

  • 1
    Where do you want to do the PhD? In Italy/Europe as well, or for example in the US/Asia?
    – Jeroen
    Feb 7, 2022 at 7:48
  • @Jeroen Maybe in Canada, University of Toronto or University of British Columbia. Or maybe in Switzerland, EPFL or ETHZ. Feb 7, 2022 at 12:43
  • 2
    Do you have examples of universities in Europe in which you have only 1 year of coursework for the MSc? In my experience that would be uncommon; I think this is a cultural difference between American and European practice. Feb 8, 2022 at 9:28

2 Answers 2


As far as my experience (including Italy where I work, but in Stats/Math not Computer Science) goes, only very few applicants for PhD programs manage to publish during their regular MSc time; the majority don't have publications at all, others did them through Research Internships or other experiences (those who have most publications are usually simply those who are older and have done other things than just straight studying). Publications are not generally a "make it or break it" criterion, as there are good reasons why some don't have the time to do them, and others get their name on stuff to which they have contributed little. Furthermore the thesis itself is looked at, but people don't have an advantage just because they have more material in it because they had more time. A short thesis done in a limited time span can show your insight and ability as well as a longer one for which you have longer time. So I wouldn't worry much about this just regarding a later PhD application. Our criteria for PhD admission even apply to people who didn't have to do a thesis at all in the framework of their program (and there are rules at my university and maybe all over Italy that say that they should not be discriminated against based on this).

It may be that in CS it's different though (because it may be faster to get stuff published).


When you start MS program, by the middle of first semester, you will know the faculty and their research interests. Then you meet the professor of your choice and request him to be your advisor for thesis. By the end of first semester, you could have decided about the topic of your research. Then you can start collecting data, papers and other related information. When it is last semester, you may have finished major part of your thesis.

  • It's true that you can start early, but by the end of the first semester you will only have seen in your lectures a very small part of the faculty. Feb 8, 2022 at 9:27
  • For lectures, you see a small part of the faculty, but otherwise you know all the faculty of your department and their research interests in first semester.
    – imtaar
    Feb 8, 2022 at 11:54

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