I finished my masters at University X and I am continuing my PhD in the same university which allows me to transfer up to 20 credit hours of my masters coursework to my PhD course requirements which is 27 credit hours. So now I only need to finish 7 credit hours and I will be done with the PhD course requirement. I heard from couple of friends that I should take more courses because finishing my PhD with a small number of courses might potentially hurt my future by making my PhD less in value. If this is true, how many courses should I take to make a good PhD courses count?

I am interested in both industrial and postdoctoral positions after I finish my PhD.

  • 3
    Good PhD is not measured by how many credits you took, but rather how quality research you have conducted.
    – padawan
    Dec 25, 2016 at 9:47
  • This depends a lot on what your field is. Could you provide some additional detail?
    – Buzz
    Dec 25, 2016 at 15:31
  • @Buzz the field is computer science, I added that to the question's tags.
    – The Hiary
    Dec 25, 2016 at 20:09

2 Answers 2


Your success in a PhD program will be judged based on your research, not your course work. You should take the minimum number of courses required to get the degree, and spend your remaining time performing research.

The exception would be if you are seeking a job at an institution where you would teach multiple disciplines, and are required to have taken a certain number of graduate courses in each discipline. This would not be unusual at American community colleges.

  • Interdisciplinary fields are another exception. For example, it's rare to see a fresh bioinformatics PhD with a sufficient background in both computer science and biology. Postdocs in bioinformatics tend to involve a lot of self-study. Dec 26, 2016 at 0:24

Another potential red flag might be that both degrees are from the same institution. However, this is something that can be surmounted.

For me, though, the major red flag is that you don't seem to have an advisor yet. This is a very important part of the process of getting a PhD.

So how do you set that up, you might be wondering?

You could start by reading about the different research areas represented by your department. Pick a couple that look intriguing, and read the faculty bios in that area. Once you have a short list of possible advisors, observe them at seminars, etc., perhaps take a class or sit in on some classes. Talk to other students. This part of the process might take on the order of a month.

Once you have a pretty good idea whom you would like to work with, it's time to read some of the papers that professor has written. It's okay if you don't understand everything yet. Start making a list of questions based on your reading.

Visit that person's published office hours, and ask for an appointment to discuss (name-of-paper).

When you get to that appointment (or in that pre-visit), mention briefly that you are a new PhD student and you don't have an advisor yet.

If the conversation goes well, ask if that person would mind giving you some advice about course selection. If the answer is yes, then send the professor an unofficial transcript by email, and any specific questions you may have about specific next courses.

Connecting with an advisor doesn't always happen exactly that way -- I tried to boil a complex, extremely varied process down to a simple procedure. You don't have to follow it precisely.

Happy advisor hunting!

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