Hi all I have recently completed my BSc (Hons) in physics (got first-class honours) and am considering my options. I would like to go on and study for a PhD on a topic relating to exoplanets, and can't decide whether to do an MSc first or whether to go straight for a PhD. Reasons for going straight to a PhD: 1) I know the area I want to research, so why waste time doing an MSc? 2) My grades are good enough for entry to a PhD program here in the UK. 3) MSc's aren't funded, so I'd have to fork out the cash for the course and a year's living expenses. 4) I have worked full-time for 12 years, so have picked up lots of beneficial skills and am more mature in my studying than I was at school. 5) I will be 30 this November, and don't want to waste any more time than is necessary! By the time I've completed a couple of post-docs, I'll already be in my 40s! Reasons for not going straight to a PhD, and doing an MSc first: 1) I studied from home part-time for my BSc (with the Open University in the UK), so haven't had the experience of a traditional University. 2) Doing an MSc would give me a more rounded knowledge of different topics in astrophysics. 3) Would I be taken seriously when looking for research positions in the future? Most people seem to go BSc, MSc, PhD. If I just have a BSc and PhD, and the BSc was completed via home study, would I stand a chance against others when looking for postdoc positions? Alternatively, have I already left it too late to seriously think about leaving work and starting a PhD? If I start a 3 year PhD this October, I'll be just shy of 33 when I complete it. Would I be better off using my BSc to get a better paid job, and forging a career in business/industry instead? As you can see, I've got lots of thoughts running through my head! Any comments will be much appreciated.