How to get a PhD without a master's degree

Written by joanne guidoccio
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How to get a PhD without a master's degree
Explore all your options before pursuing a doctoral degree. (university graduate in robes image by Gina Smith from

You have a high grade point average (GPA) and excellent recommendations from all of your undergraduate professors. You plan to teach or research at the university level. Alternatively, you may wish to work in a highly competitive field. In any event, you need top credentials to achieve these goals. However, you are not interested in spending valuable time and money pursuing a master's degree. Instead, you want to bypass that degree and go directly into a PhD program.

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    Read the eligibility requirements of each doctoral program very carefully. Universities that allow students to bypass a master's degree have certain criteria that must be met prior to admission. At the University of South Florida, an applicant to the doctoral program in nursing must be licensed as a Florida registered nurse. She must also have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 at the Bachelor's level and high GRE (Graduate Record Examination) scores. At the Rutgers School of Arts and Science, the Admissions Committee accepts students with "substantially higher undergraduate GPA, substantially higher GRE scores and outstanding letters of reference."

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    Pursue any options that allow you to complete a master's degree along with the PhD. Some universities in the United States and Australia accept promising applicants directly into integrated PhD programs and award them a master's degree at some point in the program. For example, UCLA College of Engineering will accept exceptional students who would be required to complete the master's degree along the way.

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    Ask your undergraduate professors and other academic advisers to help you with the application process. In your statement of purpose, you must demonstrate a passion for research in your chosen field. When you graduate from a doctoral program you will be expected to design research programs, design and teach classes and educate graduate students.

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