I left University early (during the final year) and was only awarded an associates degree (one level below a full bachelors) in Computer Science.

I've been an IT professional for a few years now (development and consulting) and I'm looking to fix my broken educational record.

At this point, I could enter a bachelors programme in the final year and upgrade my associates degree to a full bachelors OR I can go straight into a Master's degree. Several Universities have offered me entry to their part time Master's degree in computing off the back of my associates degree and work experience.

I'm at a loss as to what I should do?

I've always wanted to do a PhD in software engineering project methods or maybe something more comp sci based but I fear that a masters without a bachelors won't be good enough to be accepted anywhere.

What do you think?


  • Have you tried asking the universities in question whether they would consider you for PhD entry based on the master's degree without a bachelor's? Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 1:02
  • Most have replied saying that they can't comment unless I make an application. I haven't started the masters yet.
    – Crissy
    Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 1:11
  • Which Universities are stronger?
    – Orion
    Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 1:18
  • 1
    Masters degrees are higher than bachelors, so it should be easier to get into a PhD program with a MS instead of a BS (assuming the schools are a comparable level).
    – Kimball
    Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 4:09
  • 3
    Another more year will not kill you. Do the BSc (since it will take only one additional year) then the MSc and then you can do whatever you want, without worrying. This standard route is slower but certain.
    – Alexandros
    Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 4:56

2 Answers 2


I don't know the country of your residency; but in the UK and in the US, you can start a Ph.D. after a bachelor degree; without a master degree.

Now because you already did most of the bachelor degree, and want to the Ph.D. afterwards, I would recommend to do the followings:

Documents: First you need to gather two things. First, your transcript of the subjects that you passed. Second, a CV that shows your industrial experience, in details (e.g., what programming language you used exactly, etc.) on building software.

Meetings: Now there is some work to be done here. What you want is to meet someone in the software engineering/computer science department; that can listen to you and give you guidelines, on how to apply for the course. This is very important, because after he/she sees your CV, he/she might be able to help you what courses you need to take besides the final year project to get your bachelor degree. I would start, emailing head of the departments and see if they can help. If not, I would start emailing the senior lecturers. Don't expect a random staff in the department to help you with this. Simply you need someone senior with loads of experience in the department.

Further Notes: For your final year project, you need to do massive amount of work, because you need to get a Ph.D. position afterwards. Don't do a final year project with an unknown advisor in the field. His/her recommendation letter for the potential Ph.D. supervisor is essential. Also, you need to get a very good mark; so the potential Ph.D. supervisors accept you as a Ph.D. student.


I have a similar problem I am dealing with. I finished my BSc in Computer Science a few years ago but with very low grades. I wouldn't normally be accepted for Masters degree with the grades from my Bsc degree. However the relevant work experience that I have as Software developer gives me better chances to get into a good University MSc course. However I am more interested into doing a Phd in Computer Science.

So my thoughts are the following: 1st Masters can give you better thoughts and perspective on the future Phd if you haven't studied many theoretical modules while doing the first 2 years of you bachelor degree. 2nd People tell me Phd is very different compared to Industry work. In Industry we want something practical to sell product/service so we are constantly trying to improve the product/service and the process of making it(SOLID principles). In doing a Phd the end product is not for sale so it doesn't really matter if you solve the problem fully rather the focus is on making progress towards solving it and showing it.

Hope my thoughts help.

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