After a bachelor's and the master's degree I decided to do the PhD and now I'm a first year CS PhD student in a very good University in Europe. However, I'm not living a good period of my life since I'm not finding motivation in this path, both for personal and work issues. I'd like to work in another country and find a good company where I can code that it's what I really love in this field.

However, I wouldn't like to do the task of a programmer where usually someone above you asks to develop a particular software for a client. Instead, I'd like to implement software that could be used inside the company by using personal or technical paper's ideas. It looks like this kind of work is more suitable for people who already have a PhD or who have experience with research.

With this two premises I would like to ask a couple of questions.

  1. Is the interruption of a PhD a disadvantage for the applicant?
  2. Is it possible to find a research work without a PhD?
  • 2
    In industry they often don't care much about the PhD per se, but they want some kind of relevant experience that suggests you will be successful. A PhD would demonstrate that to some extent for a research role; your lower degrees would not so much. An alternative to consider would be lower-level positions in research in academia, such as research assistant, etc., that involve writing software. This would build up experience, and you might like the environment better than industry. But at the end of the day you will probably still be "developing software for a client".
    – user24098
    May 26, 2017 at 16:02
  • "someone above you asks to develop a particular software for a client" -- I can imagine a couple of different reasons why this might not appeal to you. Could you say a bit more? // There are no shortage of jobs requiring lots of coding. How important is it that you be working with personal ideas or ideas from a technical paper? That's the part that I'm not sure whether you would find immediately. May 27, 2017 at 2:50

1 Answer 1


TL;DR ... 1. It is not much of a disadvantage, if any, and yes, it is possible to find research work without a PhD.

I've worked in four industrial R&D computer science organizations after getting a Ph.D. Three were considered "research labs" while the most recent one is closer to the development side (but still has a strong foot in the academic research community).

Only one of these companies hired virtually only PhD-level employees. The others had a mix of Ph.D.s and M.S.-level people.

So I would modify @dan1111's comment to say that some don't care about a Ph.D. and some do. And many will hire an M.S. (with or without any time spent in a Ph.D. program), though some won't.

We've certainly hired people who left a Ph.D. program with just an M.S. after changing their mind. I don't see this as an obstacle for industry, at least in computer software.

In other disciplines, who knows?


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