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Applying to a Ph.D. and not getting in - M.S.?

  1. Jun 8, 2015 #1
    Hey there,

    I have been out of school for two years in the work world, so I think my application isn't as strong as I'd like it to be in terms of applying to Ph.D. Programs. I have a simple nuts-and-bolts question about it:

    If I take a "moonshot" and apply to just Ph.D. programs, will this "include" an application to the associated master's programs? By this I mean, if they think I'm a qualified candidate for the M.S., will I be admitted for that instead of the Ph.D.? Or do I have to separately apply for each M.S. program?

    Thanks for your help.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 8, 2015 #2


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    Staff Emeritus
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    No. If I understand the procedure correctly, they will admit you to only the program that you applied for, nothing more, and nothing less.

    There is nothing that makes your application "weaker" just because you have been working for the past 2 years. If anything, and if your work has some related benefits (i.e. you worked with computers, or you worked as a technician, or you were in the military, or if you worked as a manager, etc.), this might be beneficial to your application by showing your level of maturity and levelheadedness.

    Of course, if you only apply to the MITs, the Harvards, and the Princetons, then I withdraw my suggestion on your maturity and levelheadedness! :)

  4. Jun 8, 2015 #3
    Nope, I'm applying to a B school, but the problem is, I didn't get along with my research professors as well as my work bosses, so I won't have many good "academic" references, which is the main worry. (Just had personal issues with 2 out of 3 of my research professors... so I wouldn't ask them for a recommendation.)
  5. Jun 29, 2015 #4
    The schools that will consider you for both MS and PhD will usually offer unfunded (or partially funded in the best non-PhD scenario) MS should you fail to get in for the PhD but not rejected outright. However, the list of such schools is pretty short:

    Stony Brook
    Rochester (or at least used to; there is one recorded instance of a Rochester applicant being rejected and offered a MS with 50% funding instead)

    plus other lesser-known schools that I might have missed.

    Or you can always try your hands for a MS abroad...
  6. Jun 29, 2015 #5
    Not by default, but it does happen. A friend of mine applied to a PhD program and the folks there liked him but they already had sufficient students in the PhD program so they added him into their masters program and he went from there under the assumptions that once he was done with his masters he'd be continuing on with the PhD program. Might want to contact the individual school.
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