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I am currently perusing my masters degree in engineering, and would like to continue that with a PhD, and it was my understanding that I needed a thesis for my masters in order to get into the PhD program. Is this true? I'm beginning to reach out to professors to see if they will take me on, and when I mentioned a masters thesis to one of them, he said it would be better just to take the class requirements for a regular masters degree, but I could start looking at my PhD thesis now. Does this sound right? Thanks for your input!

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It depends largely on the country and institution. Some PhD programs in engineering require a Master's with a dissertation. Other programs are content with a course-work-only Master's. Your best bet is to find a person to work with at the department of the PhD program you want to enter (which it sounds like you have already done) and follow the advice of that person.

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    My program didn't even require the Master's. You could pick one up based on coursework only along the way for a small fee, but it was mostly there as a bailout option for people who wanted out of the program at that point. I didn't pick it up. – Bill Barth Apr 12 '16 at 16:11
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    Indeed. In some countries and institutions, a Master's is viewed as the "first 2 years of the PhD program", with an option to exit after year 2 with just the Master's or to continue to complete the PhD. In other countries (such as Canada) it is often a pre-requisite to apply to a PhD program (though it still varies by institution and some allow direct admission from undergrad in certain circumstances). – Mekki MacAulay Apr 12 '16 at 17:06

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