My university (math major) offers the option to write and present a bachelor thesis instead of taking 3 courses. Due to my changing tracks (from applied maths to pure maths) I have lost my ability to present a thesis this June and will instead have to wait until next June. It will however mean that I will have to delay my graduation by at least a semester, if not a year. I would like to avoid that because a) I am quite fed up with my current institution and b) Delaying my graduation would come with a significant personal and financial cost.

Now that context has been provided, how will not doing a bachelor thesis affect my chances of getting into a good masters and then PhD program?

  • 1
    What is your location? In the US, I would say that recommendation letters are far more important than any bachelor thesis.
    – GEdgar
    Jan 15 at 15:04
  • Possible duplicate for PhD: academia.stackexchange.com/q/176908/63475
    – Bryan Krause
    Jan 15 at 15:05
  • @GEdgar The advisor for a bachelor thesis is probably the best person to write a recommendation letter.
    – Bryan Krause
    Jan 15 at 15:06
  • @GEdgar I'm in northern Europe
    – MathyUni
    Jan 15 at 15:07
  • Having done a bachelor's thesis, a master's thesis will go more smoothly. There are just a number of decisions that will be easy to make after you have made them badly before. Jan 15 at 19:05

2 Answers 2


Your undergraduate thesis (or lack thereof) shouldn't matter at all for PhD programs in Europe, presuming you plan on doing a Master's degree first.

For getting into a "good" Masters program, this might depend on the country. For instance, many good universities in Germany only expect that you have a relevant Bachelor's degree (with a minimum average grade). So if you have your heart set on applying to a specific elite program, it might be an issue. If you're a bit more flexible, it should be fine.


It depends hugely on induvidual factors, but originally the system was created that first you make your bachelor and then you get your masters. Probably this is also in the head of your profs, and in the head of the people creating the rules and requirements of your University.

But most importantly: the idea, that you focus to some field already in your pregrad years and you try to become really good in it, is very welcomed in the eyes of a professor focusing since decades to a field. You see your 3-7 years in your institute an eternity, they see the first small steps in a career path.

To become really welcomed by them, they want to see a career path which points to them. And, a path needs at least two points. And the topic of your Bachelor, followed by a Masters on the same field, that is already a very strong... arrow to the direction of that field, and any prof with influence, for example, into entry decisions to a Phd program, will want to at least talk with you.

This effect does not exists if you only have a masters in your nearly empty CV (yes a CV is practically empty until ca. masters in their eyes).

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