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PhD in the US if you already have Masters

Runner23Runner23 Registered User Posts: 3 New Member
edited August 2010 in Graduate School
Are there any decent school in the US that will let students transfer their Masters degree into their program, so the overall degree wont take 5 years, but rather 3 years as is common in the UK.
Post edited by Runner23 on

Replies to: PhD in the US if you already have Masters

  • flyers29flyers29 Registered User Posts: 198 Junior Member
    May be less common in certain subjects, but they usually let you use a certain number of credits toward the PhD (I've usually seen 18-24 if 48-54 hours of coursework are required, or 30 if 60 are required). So you'll still probably have 1-1/2 years of coursework to do even if you have a master's already.
  • MomwaitingfornewMomwaitingfornew Registered User Posts: 5,821 Senior Member
    The top programs usually do not accept transfer credits, although sometimes you can skip required core courses and choose electives instead. You will need to research this on a program-by-program basis. If you stay at your master's institution for the PhD, the courses usually will transfer, and you can go directly to your dissertation work.

    For you to understand why PhD programs often don't allow credits to transfer, you need to fully understand the process of earning the degree. The first two years (the ones you want to bypass, I assume) are filled with required and elective courses which ensure that everyone progressing toward the degree has the same core knowledge, more or less. You would work with different faculty members during that time so you can choose your advisor (and vice versa) and your dissertation topic. The first two years usually culminate in general/comprehensive exams, which test your knowledge in required areas and which evaluate a written proposal for your dissertation research. Depending on the program, these exams can be written, oral, or both.

    Often, you can ask to be tested on a core knowledge area without having taken the course at that institution. Since some programs have a limit to the number of times a student can fail these exams and still remain in the program, you have to be confident you can pass (even if you don't) the first time around.

    The length of time to a PhD varies, both individually and by program and field. It's entirely possible for a student in some fields to start at the beginning and earn a PhD in four years. If you can get some requirements waived so you take only one year of classes, then you might get your PhD in three years; however, you cannot count on it, even with a year's worth of transfer credits. You earn a PhD when you've completed significant research, expressed in a written dissertation, that is approved by both your advisor and the program. You don't decide when you are ready to defend; your advisor does.

    I know this is probably more information than you needed or wanted. :)
  • UKdude84UKdude84 Registered User Posts: 468 Member
    The time factor is why I have decided to pursue my PhD in the UK as opposed to stateside. As much as I love America.
  • cosmicfishcosmicfish Registered User Posts: 4,203 Senior Member
    Different schools handle this in completely different ways. I had my masters when I applied for my PhD program, and this is what I was told:

    School 1: Sorry, no transfer credits - everyone does the full program. Be done in 5-6 years.

    School 2: Well, we'll transfer credits as long as we can find equivalent courses - so if your electromagnetics course covered the same things as ours, maybe you can transfer those credits. Be done in 5 - 5 1/2 years.

    School 3: The first two years of our program are the masters degree. If you already have a masters degree, you skip those years entirely. Be done in 3-4 years.

    I went with school 3, in electrical engineering.
  • Runner23Runner23 Registered User Posts: 3 New Member
    I can relate to the fact that it becomes a thing of standardization to ensure that all have done the exact same prerequisites.

    I do, however, also think its a matter of money. The fewer credits that are transferred, the more school make on their students. I had a similar issue when I wanted to do a Bsc in finance after already having one in economics.

    Considering this I am inclined to look much harder at UK PhD program, since they require a Masters for entry, despite the fact that I wish to work in the US after completing the PhD, or even during it if possible.
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