Are research statements evaluated differently for professional and research master's programs? If so, how do they differ?

Further, I have read that admissions to research programs are more competitive than for professional programs. So can I take admission into professional degree first, and then transition to a research degree in order to increase my odds of admission?

I am an international applicant applying for computer science programs in the US. I do not wish to go for a PhD directly, so I am looking to do a master's first.

P.S. Sorry for asking two questions. But they seem to be fairly related to me.

  • ...and a professional masters degree is... what, exactly?
    – Nicholas
    May 17, 2015 at 8:18
  • @Nicholas The one without a thesis requirement.
    – user
    May 17, 2015 at 8:24
  • Does a professional Master's thesis have any research component at all? Is it comprised only of taught post-graduate level papers? If this is the case, the concept of a research statement for a professional master's seems out of place.
    – Nicholas
    May 17, 2015 at 8:29
  • Does "professional masters" mean "taught masters"?
    – Flyto
    May 17, 2015 at 8:59
  • @Nicholas I am not sure whether it does or does not include any research component at all.
    – user
    May 17, 2015 at 9:21

1 Answer 1


You don't mention what field you're in or what country you want to apply to, but let me answer for computer science in the US.

Is the evaluation of research statement done differently for professional masters and research masters? If so, what are these differences.

Professional masters programs won't ask for a research statement at all.

There are two types of computer science masters degrees in the US. One is the research masters, which requires a thesis in addition to advanced coursework. The other is the professional masters, which is entirely based on coursework, with no research component. Research masters students generally work with faculty advisors on a research project and may even be funded by teaching or research assistantships that include a tuition waiver. Professional masters students pay full tuition (or get their employers to pay for them), and take classes and nothing else.

can I take admission into professional degree first and then make a transition to research degree in order to increase my odds of admission?

In my experience, absolutely not!

Professional masters degrees are considered to be terminal degrees. Because they lack a research component, they are not considered pathways to a research degree.

I am an international applicant applying to US. So I do not with to go for PhD directly.

Why not? At least in my department, a strong majority of PhD students are international, and most of them apply as undergraduates. And I don't think my department is special in that regard.

  • Well actually I need to support my family. So I cannot spare 4 years of PhD right away. Anyway, thanks for the answer. Just one more thing. Will need recommendation letters for professional masters too?
    – user
    May 17, 2015 at 17:09
  • 1
    @spunkpike: In general you will need recommendation letters for admission to any sort of higher education program in the US.
    – aeismail
    May 17, 2015 at 17:21
  • @aeismail Are these to be written with the same approach for both? I realize this is not a discussion forum but I would really appreciate any help..
    – user
    May 17, 2015 at 17:33

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