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I’m currently a computer science (and mathematics) B.Sc and M.Sc student in my third year (since I started my B.Sc).

At the second year of my B.Sc studies, I have started to work on research (in computer science) and I have two (amazing) advisors, I have written (i.e, submitted) a couple of papers so far and currently working on a few more.

One of the papers I have already submitted was quite big and accepted to one of the top conferences in my field, so my advisors suggested it will be my master’s thesis.

As I’m still finishing the B.Sc courses (and the M.Sc courses at the same time) I have two options after finishing the courses:

  1. Submit the thesis, get the B.Sc and M.Sc and sign up as a PhD student (signing up will be more of a technicality as I’m [obviously] staying with the same advisors and our current work will be a part of the PhD anyway).

  2. Not submitting the thesis and signing up to a “direct PhD” program, which I don’t know much about, but it should basically mean doing the same as an M.Sc and a PhD minus submitting the master’s thesis.

My question is, is there any reason for me to choose the second option? Are there any benefits to having or not having a masters degree? (My thought of this right now is: Maybe the direct program will be faster if it is not allowed to include the masters thesis in the PhD thesis and then going in the direct program will allow me to include that paper in the thesis?)

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    If you actually have two amazing advisors, I would suggest following their suggestion. They know the implications of each option much better than us here on the Internet (and, presumably, better than you). Btw. at least in my university, one cannot "retroactively" decide that some research one did was one's master's thesis. – xLeitix Jan 25 '15 at 13:22
  • That's probably the right way to get an answer (but I'm still trying to gather at least minimum knowledge of the advantages and disadvantages of this before bringing it up, maybe there is something critical I'm missing...). About the thesis: it was discussed beforehand. – ResearchEnthusiast Jan 25 '15 at 13:25
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If you want to stay in academia, you cannot rely on getting a PHD degree faster, based on that one (possibly very good) paper done during your undergraduate years. You need to have as many equally good or better recent publications as possible, during your PHD years. Otherwise, some people might think that this paper was more your advisors' work than yours, since you could not back it up with equally good publications during your PHD years, when you worked more independently on your own.

In this sense, this paper should not help you get a PHD faster if you cannot back it up with better publications during your PHD studies. And if you actually manage to write those better papers, you will not actually need this paper to get your PHD faster. Listen to your advisors and stick to the slower BSc + MSc => then PHD route.

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Given how hot the computer science field is and will remain, I think you should get the M.Sc. Let's say something happens to you and you can't complete the PhD, at least you'll have the M.Sc. It seems to me that a lucrative job will be waiting for you even if getting the PhD via this route takes a little longer. It sounds to me like financial success is easily in your future with or without the PhD or the time it took to get the PhD.

  • Thanks. I'll add a bit of information: my goals as I view them currently are academic and not working "outside" in the near future. – ResearchEnthusiast Jan 25 '15 at 19:08
  • Still, having the MSc is a nice backup and I think you should get it if it doesn't involve too much extra work. – Sumyrda - Reinstate Monica Jan 25 '15 at 19:18

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