I am applying for a PhD position for last few months but all the Professors say they need a masters whereas I have quite good lab experiences than a masters student even. I am very much depressed nowadays. What should I do now? If the professors do not trust the skills written in the CV, they can give a conditional offer; but they don't.

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    The professors may be looking for e.g. theoretical background or understanding of how research works, not just for lab skills. Have you considered getting a master's degree? Jul 24, 2016 at 18:19
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    @PatriciaShanahan: No, it's a structural issue. See my response below,
    – aeismail
    Jul 24, 2016 at 18:35
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    What country / region are you applying in? And what field of academia?
    – Tom Church
    Jul 24, 2016 at 19:19
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    Most PhD programs in the US do not require a prior masters degree for admission, although (in my experience) applicants with master's degrees are held to higher standards than applicants without.
    – JeffE
    Jul 24, 2016 at 20:11
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    The OP has written some similar questions before. In my humble opinion: If you failed to get your master's degree, you should either try to do it in another field/subject or just leave academia. In most jobs, it is not necessary to have a PhD. Jul 25, 2016 at 7:59

5 Answers 5


There are universities and research centers in Europe who accepts students without a masters degree, but they would require to take full credits of masters and to complete modules, before or while the research is being conducted. Therefore you might want to get in touch of those universities.

Here are a few which I know of:

Most of the time you need to show that you have enough skills with your previous experiences, publications, the letter of application/statement of purpose. An interview may follow where you will be asked about your work and the domain of work in which you have applied.

  • It's not clear from the links you provided whether those centres have PhD programs and whether these are accessible without a Master's degree. Jul 24, 2016 at 19:21
  • @MassimoOrtolano: Each of the positions advertised will have different requirements. As per I know, and I am related to one of these centers, many of them accepts phds without a masters, but, as I told, that is considered as a case by case basis.
    – phoxis
    Jul 24, 2016 at 20:17
  • For example : adaptcentre.ie/careers/… says: "The successful candidate will have an excellent academic record (first class or II.1 primary degree or a postgraduate qualification, e.g. M.Sc.) in Computer Science or a related discipline. "
    – phoxis
    Jul 24, 2016 at 20:19
  • Do they actually take them in? In Sweden is not a requirement, but everybody has it, and my guess is that the rule is there mostly to allow people that have almost finished one, or similar.
    – Davidmh
    Jul 24, 2016 at 23:32
  • @Davidmh: As far as I know, I know a few people here who has been directly admitted as a PhD, but has to finish far more credits than what a student with post graduate degree.
    – phoxis
    Jul 25, 2016 at 10:23

In most European countries following the Bologna process, a master's degree is a "hard" prerequisite for being accepted into a PhD program. There is no easy way around this, in large part because the PhD typically encompasses only the research phase of a standard US PhD program. By skipping or omitting the master's degree, one would have a "weaker" degree than someone who completed the master's.

Your best bet would be to find a PhD program which offers a master's program as "preadmission" to the PhD program. Not all doctoral programs offer such master's degrees, but many programs designed to attract international students will.

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    And just to be clear, US PhD programs typically include a course work phase which is of similar length to a master's degree. Thus a student in the US might spend two years doing course work and three years on the dissertation (although in practice both phases are often longer), while in the European system under the Bologna process, that student would complete an MS first, then enter a PhD program during which they would focus entirely on research. Jul 25, 2016 at 3:08
  • I'm quoting wikipedia: "3rd cycle: doctoral degree. No ECTS range given.". So there is no range required for the institutions to uphold. But it also does not say : mandatory 0 credits. So in practice there often is on a more local level a requirement of 1-2 years of course work on PhD level for a 3 or 4 years long PhD. And that is not counting the teaching which often amounts to 1 year in excess to the 4 year long PhD. Jul 25, 2016 at 13:54

In the UK it is often not a requirement, but a desirable qualification.

Academics have discretion to offer PhD's to whatever candidates they wish, subject to them meeting the funding agencies criteria (which for science, at least, is usually a minimum of a 2:1 undergraduate BSc degree).

In practice, many professors are obviously unwilling to offer PhD's to students who aren't completing a masters since there are so many possible candidates that theres simply no reason to take sub-standard students, however I know of many cases where students on masters programmes have been offered PhD's then never completed the masters and went straight on to a PhD.


I know of some faculties in Germany that (formally) accept students without a master's degree, but I have never personally witnessed a case where a student with only a bachelor's degree was accepted as a PhD student. I can only speak for Germany, but it's best to read the Promotionsordnung (PhD regulations) of the faculties and look for the admission section. For my faculty it read something like: General prerequisite is a master's degree, but in special ocassions and if the student proves eligibility he can be accepted to the PhD program, but has to do extra coursework.


In my experience it is quite common in Australia for students wanting to undertake a PhD to be enrolled in a Master's degree with the understanding that after a year they will undergo a conversion to a PhD. The Master's degree is never completed and in the cases I know of there was always a clear understanding between the student and the supervisor that this was the expected path, i.e. the intent of both parties is that the student will complete a PhD, and the initial enrolment as a Master's degree student is a formality unless something goes badly wrong in the first year.

  • Do you mean a Masters by Coursework, Masters by Research, or M.Phil? Certainly an MPhil is often treated as a probationary year of a PhD.
    – beldaz
    Jul 25, 2016 at 2:47
  • Also worth noting that some Australian universities offer a 4-year Honours Bachelors that is equivalent to UK 4-year Masters undergraduate degrees, and provide a route to PhD.
    – beldaz
    Jul 25, 2016 at 2:49
  • Good point about coursework versus research - I'm referring to research, and most of my experience is in Engineering where it would be a Master of Engineering. But given that I've just noticed the "europe" tag on the question, none of this is particularly relevant :) Jul 25, 2016 at 3:03
  • Possibly still useful for Australian students intending to apply to European institutions for Higher Degree Research. I worked in an HDR office where I had to work out the equivalence of various degrees from other countries for acceptance for research degrees.
    – beldaz
    Jul 25, 2016 at 3:38

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