If I do a non-thesis MS program in statistics, will I be eligible for an admission in to a PhD program in Statistics later in my life? The MS program I am looking into is a non-thesis program but I still have to complete a research project requirement (which involves oral presentation as well as some form of a written report) towards the end of the program...I am still not sure if it can lead to a PhD program though.


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    Does the PhD program you're considering even require an MS for admission? Many don't. (If you don't know the answer, go look up a few programs and find out.) – ff524 Apr 1 '14 at 2:38
  • Hello, I am just wondering whether or not every non-thesis MS (including small research project-based MS) is considered as a terminal degree – Jin-Dominique Apr 1 '14 at 2:41
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    Then the answer is no: a non-thesis MS is not always a terminal degree. (This is not what your question asks, though, so if that's what you mean you should edit the question.) – ff524 Apr 1 '14 at 2:43
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    I believe the underlying question here is : "Do PhD program require a thesis and/or a diploma?" The answer is probably that it depends and you should be able to get the information for the universities (or programs) you are targeting. – PatW Apr 29 '14 at 12:47
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    Note that some PhD programs will admit students who don't have a Master's degree at all, if they have other evidence that they've got the necessary background to conduct meaningful research in their field. Ask the individual schools you're interested in. – keshlam Jun 28 '14 at 23:10

It depends on the university. Some Ph.D. programs have extra requirements for students who did not complete a thesis (or they will not accept these students). Others are fine with a 'capstone/directed project' which has elements of a thesis. Others may simply ask that students who did not complete a thesis take the GRE for admission into the Ph.D. program while not requiring this for students who did complete a thesis (I attend an R1 university in the US and this is the case here).

So the answer is yes, but it depends on the university.


Applying for a PhD program depends on your curriculum vitae and the research work you have done during the years before your PhD. One may have completed a MSc with research and thesis but his research topic is not that much current and that is not so much alluring for the professor who is seeking for a PhD research student. On the other hand, someone (probably like you) may have attended a MSc program which did not include any thesis or research work, but, the student was that much active and interested in doing research that his resume is full of scientific publications, research assistantships and voluntary academic work that the professor prefers to supervise him.
So, if you are aiming a PhD in future, it may be better to do as much as research work and publication as you can. Then you need to meet the minimum requirements for a PhD student who wants to apply for a PhD program. Go and search the websites of the universities you want to apply and prepare the qualifications and requirements they have mentioned.
It may be a good idea to seek the research interests of the professors of the university you are interested in attending too. If you want to work with a professor, try to review his publications and if you want to do some researches; make some researches in the areas of their interest. For example, a professor the research interest of whom is numerical methods in engineering is not probable to accept and work with a person who's resume is full of laboratory activities.
Another thing is that you choose some courses (as your electives) that are of value for the research in PhD. I mean, choose some courses that prove that you are capable of understanding PhD courses. By this way, you prove that you are so interested in studying PhD courses, you are capable of understanding and analyzing PhD courses and you have chosen your elective courses by an insight to your research activity.
Not to forget that some universities and education systems have specific education regulations and it may be important for them that a student have completed a MSc by research.
By the way, I have seen some students who did not completed a thesis or research during their MSc, applied for PhD after graduation and started their PhD successfully.


It depends, in the US for example I do not think they acknowledge Masters from other countries, a couple of friends had master degrees themselves before doing their PhDs and both had to get an additional masters (more like it just happened somewhere in the middle)

Now, in Japan, you cannot get into a PhD if you do not have a Masters degree and a title to show for it. That is for all the Universities, not some of them. The only case when this is not the norm is in natural sciences. But in Japan, is like in the UK, PhD programs are 3 years long (usually) you have no classes (well, few, like 4), and you are expected to do research most of the time.

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    in the US for example I do not think they acknowledge Masters from other countries - this is not generally true. – ff524 Jun 28 '14 at 20:13
  • @ff524 US PhD programs generally do not accept a Masters degree, regardless of where the degree was acquired, in the sense that all of the Masters credits will not count towards the PhD. Some credits may be put towards the PhD, but it is not like European PhD programs. I believe this is what Leon is pointing out. – Hobbes Apr 28 '17 at 15:56

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