I completed a MPhys course with a 2:1 recently, and I'm trying to determine the best path for applying to PhD scholarships in the coming years.

My question is whether it's worth applying to MSc (by research) programs, as has been suggested to me, before applying?

I can imagine that it'd make me a better candidate, and it'd provide some valuable experience of academic research not dissimilar from a PhD.

What I want be sure of, however, is that I'm not spending the time, and money, for the wrong reasons - for example, my main concern in applying for PhD scholarships is that I didn't really make any contacts with the faculty at my old university, and I'm anxious about getting good references (I did do some work that I'm proud of, it's more that I didn't stand out or make an effort to be known).

I figure that an MSc would give me an opportunity to really throw myself out there and at the very least get a recommendation based on the strength of my work. But of course it's a big outlay if the only real thing stopping me at the moment is an anxiety around talking to my old department!

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    Why not apply to both? Then if you get accepted to PhD and MSc, choose the PhD. If MSc only, that's fine also, and try for PhD again next year. – astronat Nov 14 '17 at 19:01
  • I suppose I assumed that it's sufficiently different as a process - in terms of how soon I would apply for a start date, the academic recommendations aspect, and perhaps just how many applications I'd make to account for how competitive they might be - to make it tough to do both simultaneously? – Sphaerica Pullus Nov 14 '17 at 20:15

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