I'm an undergrad and have been looking at my professors' CVs. While some of them went straight from earning their undergraduate degree to earning their PhD (which is what I was thinking of doing since it seems more direct), I noticed several of them first earned a master's degree in pure math after finishing undergrad, then went to another institution to earn their PhD. I was wondering if there are any overall benefits/drawbacks to earning a master's degree at one school and then entering a PhD program at another, versus jumping straight into a PhD program?
I can't speak for purest math, but many parts of computer science overlap so I think there may be some similarity...
If you know that you want a Ph.D. and are able to get into a good Ph.D. program straight out of undergraduate, more power to you: this is a fine path to go on. This may not, however, be possible or desirable for a number of reasons. Some examples of good reasons to get a Master's at one institution before switching to another:
- You might not get into grad school on the first try, and a Master's program is a good place to progress academically while you prepare to try again (this was one of my reasons)
- The Master's is a natural break-point for transferring to a program that is stronger or a better fit.
- Non-academic reasons, such as family issues, following a partner, visa problems, etc.