Undergrad finalist, just been encouraged by my supervisor to apply for a PhD

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gmtx
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OK, so I'm currently a third year artificial intelligence student, but I'm looking to go into the Computational Neuroscience/Cognitive Science area. I was going to apply for a relevant Master's at a different uni to the one I'm at now. Went to visit, really liked the course and was excited about the prospect of starting there. Then earlier this week I got a bit of a surprise. My supervisor for my final year project told me about a funded PhD opportunity he is running, and encouraged me to apply for it.

I didn't even realise beforehand that it was possible to do a PhD without first doing a Master's, so I hadn't even been considering the possibility, so I don't really know much about the process of applying for one. It does look like a really good opportunity, it's in the kind of Neuroscience area I'm interested in and it looks at a similar theme as my final year project. Only thing is I don't know if I'd be confident making that leap to PhD level without first going doing a Master's. Having said that, my supervisor said he wouldn't have asked if he didn't think I was capable, which was a nice confidence boost (I've never really been a top student, only got BCC at A Level, and a 3rd in my first year, so I've always doubted my ability to go on into postgrad education)

Only problem with this is I have to apply within a month. It seems a like a short amount of time in which to make a major life decision. So I just wanted some advice- anyone here done a PhD without a Master's, would you recommend it? Any advice on the application process (although hopefully this will be quite informal as I know the supervisors)?
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hothedgehog
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(Original post by gmtx)
OK, so I'm currently a third year artificial intelligence student, but I'm looking to go into the Computational Neuroscience/Cognitive Science area. I was going to apply for a relevant Master's at a different uni to the one I'm at now. Went to visit, really liked the course and was excited about the prospect of starting there. Then earlier this week I got a bit of a surprise. My supervisor for my final year project told me about a funded PhD opportunity he is running, and encouraged me to apply for it.

I didn't even realise beforehand that it was possible to do a PhD without first doing a Master's, so I hadn't even been considering the possibility, so I don't really know much about the process of applying for one. It does look like a really good opportunity, it's in the kind of Neuroscience area I'm interested in and it looks at a similar theme as my final year project. Only thing is I don't know if I'd be confident making that leap to PhD level without first going doing a Master's. Having said that, my supervisor said he wouldn't have asked if he didn't think I was capable, which was a nice confidence boost (I've never really been a top student, only got BCC at A Level, and a 3rd in my first year, so I've always doubted my ability to go on into postgrad education)

Only problem with this is I have to apply within a month. It seems a like a short amount of time in which to make a major life decision. So I just wanted some advice- anyone here done a PhD without a Master's, would you recommend it? Any advice on the application process (although hopefully this will be quite informal as I know the supervisors)?
Quite often PhDs without a masters will incorporate the important things from a masters course within the first year of the PhD so you're not missing out. To be honest, one of the things that a masters year will teach you is to cover a massive amount of work and reading and to be able to take in appropriate stuff from that very quickly. So, if you have a hard working ethic you'll find that while it's a new skill, it's not that hard as you're willing to work hard. The people who sail through life without academic problems will get stuck at some point where they have to put effort in - if you've already gotten over this or have always worked hard then you should be fine!
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redferry
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(Original post by gmtx)
OK, so I'm currently a third year artificial intelligence student, but I'm looking to go into the Computational Neuroscience/Cognitive Science area. I was going to apply for a relevant Master's at a different uni to the one I'm at now. Went to visit, really liked the course and was excited about the prospect of starting there. Then earlier this week I got a bit of a surprise. My supervisor for my final year project told me about a funded PhD opportunity he is running, and encouraged me to apply for it.

I didn't even realise beforehand that it was possible to do a PhD without first doing a Master's, so I hadn't even been considering the possibility, so I don't really know much about the process of applying for one. It does look like a really good opportunity, it's in the kind of Neuroscience area I'm interested in and it looks at a similar theme as my final year project. Only thing is I don't know if I'd be confident making that leap to PhD level without first going doing a Master's. Having said that, my supervisor said he wouldn't have asked if he didn't think I was capable, which was a nice confidence boost (I've never really been a top student, only got BCC at A Level, and a 3rd in my first year, so I've always doubted my ability to go on into postgrad education)

Only problem with this is I have to apply within a month. It seems a like a short amount of time in which to make a major life decision. So I just wanted some advice- anyone here done a PhD without a Master's, would you recommend it? Any advice on the application process (although hopefully this will be quite informal as I know the supervisors)?
The thing about doing a PhD is it seriously about who you know not what you know. If you don't apply now you might regret it as you may not get the opportunity again! Some people apply for years with no luck.
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Klix88
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(Original post by gmtx)
I didn't even realise beforehand that it was possible to do a PhD without first doing a Master's
It's pretty much unheard-of in the Humanities these days, but definitely more common in STEM subjects. As above, you'll usually be brought up to Masters level in the areas necessary during the PhD.

Only problem with this is I have to apply within a month. It seems a like a short amount of time in which to make a major life decision.
What were you planning to do after the Masters? Unless you already have a job lined up, the PhD will essentially be a guaranteed paid "job" in your specialism for the next three years. That's something that many graduates would give their eye teeth for.

In your situation I'd certainly apply. Remember that the application process isn't just for them to decide whether you should be taken on. It's also so that you can look into the PhD in more detail and decide whether you want to do it.
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lucaf
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I definitely think you should apply, from the sounds of it this is exactly what you would be going for after the Masters anyway and it might be difficult to get this opportunity again. If it is similar to your final year project that would probably be an asset in applying, which your supervisor obviously knew when he suggested it, so I would think you have a decent shot
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sliceofcake
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I think you should go for it! Don't worry too much about doing a PhD without a Masters, my cousin failed his MSc and he'll be finishing his PhD in a matter of months now. You could always apply for the PhD position as well, I think you'll probably find out whether it has been accepted or not before the Masters applications close so if it isn't successful you can still do a Masters degree anyway.


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gmtx
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Thanks for the advice guys! I think at the moment I'm leaning towards applying for both and seeing what happens! It really is a difficult decision though. There are academic factors in play for both options. I feel like the Master's degree is at a uni with a better reputation, also it is in a dedicated Neuroscience department, whereas the PhD is in an engineering department, even though it is neuroscience related. And there are also non-academic reasons- I really like my current uni and town but I've been here for three years and I kinda feel like it's time for a change/fresh start somewhere new. Also, the Master's course is closer to my family home, but staying at my current uni would mean being closer to friends. So much to consider, it's a bit agonising!

(Original post by Klix88)
What were you planning to do after the Masters? Unless you already have a job lined up, the PhD will essentially be a guaranteed paid "job" in your specialism for the next three years. That's something that many graduates would give their eye teeth for.
I was hoping to do a PhD after the Master's anyway, possibly at the same uni as the Master's, but you're right obviously this is a great opportunity. It would save spending a lot of money on the master's degree as well.

(Original post by lucaf)
I definitely think you should apply, from the sounds of it this is exactly what you would be going for after the Masters anyway and it might be difficult to get this opportunity again. If it is similar to your final year project that would probably be an asset in applying, which your supervisor obviously knew when he suggested it, so I would think you have a decent shot
Yeah, you're right, I also get on really well with my supervisor, and I've been really impressed with how much help and support I've had off him this year (even just for an undergrad project, I've had hour-long weekly meetings with him), which really bodes well for the PhD. Also he said if I applied the interview process would be a lot more informal as he knows me already.

(Original post by hothedgehog)
Quite often PhDs without a masters will incorporate the important things from a masters course within the first year of the PhD so you're not missing out. To be honest, one of the things that a masters year will teach you is to cover a massive amount of work and reading and to be able to take in appropriate stuff from that very quickly. So, if you have a hard working ethic you'll find that while it's a new skill, it's not that hard as you're willing to work hard. The people who sail through life without academic problems will get stuck at some point where they have to put effort in - if you've already gotten over this or have always worked hard then you should be fine!
I guess that's true, a Master's helps you pick up those 'soft skills'. I guess the other factor for me in doing a Master's was because I'm changing subjects it might be helpful to get my knowledge up to the required level. But as you say maybe the first year of the PhD will do that for me.
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