I am writing my master's thesis and applying for PhD programs in Europe, where Master studies are usually composed of mostly coursework and voluntary research projects. I do not think it is very common for papers to come out from such short projects.

How expected or common is it to have publications under your belt when you are applying for PhD programs in Europe?. If I remember correctly, master degrees in the US/Canada are more research oriented from the get-go and a publication record is more expected there.

The most probable option I can imagine is a paper or patent coming out from your master thesis. But taking into account the time it takes to publish/patent something, I can not picture it being expected at the time of applying.

All I have is a patent from my bachelor thesis (also in Europe). How bad are patents seen in comparison to a paper?. Do they even have any importance in the PhD admission process?

1 Answer 1


While it would be a good indicator of research interest and definitely a good merit to have published prior to graduate studies, but I have never heard of it as a requirement. Definitely not at my home university, but also never from my friends and colleagues at other universities around Europe.

Also I would venture to guess patents are very rare at Masters level students, as it's not as common for universities to apply for patents, as it is in the U.S. The only people I know whose work ended up in some form of a patent application were my friends/classmates who did their thesis work at a company.

Also to answer your question, I don't see why it would be bad to have a patent in your resume, if anything it shows interest in the business side of things. Whether it weighs as much as a publication is difficult to say, however. Practically, it depends on the admission committee, or the group leader for the position you are applying for.

  • Indeed, I did my thesis work at a company in their research group. Thanks for your answer.
    – Keine
    Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 13:15
  • 1
    I can definitely see how, in some fields and for some admissions committees, having patents could be a bad thing. Whether software should be patentable at all is highly controversial, so having software patents on your CV could be viewed negatively by those who oppose them. Even in fields where patents are widely accepted, listing a "bad" patent (for example, on a trivial or unoriginal invention) that somehow made it past the examiners would be just as bad, if not worse, than listing any other bad publication that somehow made it past peer review.
    – Psychonaut
    Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 14:49
  • interesting insight about software patents. Otherwise as you say a bad patents are just as harmful as bad publications
    – posdef
    Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 14:56

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