I am Performance and Automation Testing engineer who recently moved into IT Security in Singapore. I hold a BSc in software system (full-time) and MSc in IT (distance learning program). I have 9+ years experience working in Testing projects where major contribution was into Performance and Automaton testing.

I wish to get into research jobs (specifically, academic research). I am looking for opportunities any place however my preference will be Germany, Singapore and USA. However whenever I have approached universities they aren't willing to consider me, stating that I don't have any research experience.

Can anyone help me with path to get into IT Security Research. I guess attending a part-time/full-time masters program (IT/INFOSEC) followed by PhD (INFOSEC) program should help. Is this an appropriate path? Will this suffice to give me a chance at getting hired into an academic research job?


2 Answers 2


By Academic Research, I assume you mean Phd.

So, I am aware of cases where people chose to move back from industry to academia. A Phd student that I know, used to work for EA, and after 3 (or 5 years) of working as a programmer he switched to academia to the field of Computer Networks to pursue his Phd.

So basically, there is the possibility of getting to such a position directly from the industry even if you have worked on completely unrelated stuff. However, any professor from a medium - top ranked program in the academia will look at you research capabilities in order to accept you as a Phd student.

What I would do in this case, is to create a strategy to achieve the goal. First be realistic with what you really have in hand to offer. What are your pros/cons compared to any other Phd student that want to apply to a given program.

Define your target universities. Maybe you should do some research and look where is deficiency of Phd students. In which country people look less interested to pursue a Phd.

Then look at the specific program that you want to apply for. If you don't have a preferred topic, I suggest that you should apply in a place where your experience will give you the upper hand in the application process.

You say you are interested in the IT security research. Do you like the applicative side or the theoretical stuff (crypto)?

I think there are many variables that may affect your application. The fact that you hold a Masters degree from a distance program, maybe your age, and the fact that you want to switch to a completely new topic (academic-wise, assuming that your Master studies were not related to IT security) are the downsides. But, don't be discouraged, give it a try.

I would target the mid to low ranked programmes and send applications around.

Good luck!

  • Thanks for your response. I will consider those and device a strategy. I will take up a Masters to get my skills harnessed and then do a PHD full-time. Because we need money for all that in any case. I got suggestions from my friends on applying for PHD direct but I guess the challenge is why will a professor take someone from non-research background for a Research position in academics.
    – pills
    Commented Jul 9, 2014 at 11:45
  • makes sense, but sounds risky. especially due to the fact that I don't know your age. Is it worth investing 2 years to a masters program, and then another 3-5 to Phd? make sure that you really understand what does doing a Phd really means. If you are up to the challenge go ahead. also bear in mind that there are programs that do not require you to have a masters in order to get a phd (US). you can enroll to phd program there directly. but the first couple years of the phd include coursework. that is not the case in europe Commented Jul 9, 2014 at 11:49
  • Wow !!! that sounds great. I am 32 yrs old. I wanted to do Masters to harness skills before getting into PHD. But if there are programs where I can do it without having to spend years then it will be great. You mind sharing those details. Thanks a bunch for your time .. appreciate your help
    – pills
    Commented Jul 9, 2014 at 13:53
  • hmmm, actually there is something missing in my answer. Although you don't need to have a Masters degree to do Phd in US, the phd studies there are usually 5 years by default. In europe, the phd studies are 3 years. So in the end the upper bound is 5 for the both cases. Just that in eu you have to spend 2 years prior to the phd to obtain a masters. If my answers helped you somehow please, upvote or accept them. Best Commented Jul 9, 2014 at 14:38
  • >"the phd studies in US are usually 5 years by default": with a heavy tail, there are cases where it can take much more, especially in some topics-universities
    – ntg
    Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 9:31

As you have longterm industry experience, you have the vision towards special issues that industry faces. Try to find the most important issues, problems and disasters that industry really needs to be solved. Then, go to the net and read the academic publications around those unsolved issues. Then, in this ways you see that some of the problems need to be discussed academically and you feel that you can write a proposal around one or two industry based problems.

At this stage you can discuss those issues to the companies you have worked for or with the university professors who's research interests are near the problems you have brought in your proposal. You can try to talk to the industry to support you by funds and start an industry-based PhD project. If you do not find any industry support, do not be upset; because you still have the chance that the admission committee be interested in your point of view and a professor accept you as a research PhD student.

Another thing which is obvious, is that you should search for the minimum requirements of the universities you are aiming to apply for and prepare your academic documents during the period of time your searching for good research topics and narrowing your research interests.

By doing this, you will be also prepared for applying the research companies; because you have the problems in mind and you can do beneficial research projects for them.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .