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If a Master's went back for a PhD

  1. Mar 14, 2013 #1
    It is my understanding that Master's and PhD students take the same classes the first 2 years of their graduate career. If someone with a Master's graduated and went back for a PhD later on what do the first 2 years of their PhD career consist of if they've already taken the courses a person who went straight into a PhD would take? Do they have to retake the same courses again? It's to my understanding that going into a PhD with a Master's does not shorten the time spent in a PhD program regardless if the previous degree is in the same field.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 14, 2013 #2


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    That difference between Master and PhD is quite US-specific, I think. In Europe, a Master (or equivalent) is a requirement for a PhD, which takes ~3-4 years afterwards. That could be an option :).
  4. Mar 14, 2013 #3


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    If they go back to the same school within 10 years of taking those classes, they don't need to repeat them. If they wait more than 10 years, at that school or another, they'll need to repeat them. If they go to another school less than 10 years later, the other school may or may not accept the classes in transfer. Some grad schools make you retake the classes you took elsewhere, even if it was recently. All schools will make you take their own qualifying exams.
  5. Mar 14, 2013 #4
    Every program has its own rules. From what I have seen, you can transfer some or all of the credits/units from the previous school.

    My opinion: I am happy to retake courses because I will gain a deeper and more thorough understanding of the subject. I think it will also help you do well in the qualifying exams*. But, again, this is probably just me.

    *I think qualifying exams are a brilliant idea, they gave me the chance to review all physics, ask questions about things I was embarrassed to ask about, and fill many of the gaps I had in my physics education.
  6. Mar 14, 2013 #5
    Some schools have separate requirements for those entering with a bachelors and those who enter with a masters. A few programs require a masters for entry.

    Master's degree programs can vary from school to school. If you enter a program with a masters, they still take a look at your coursework. Going from one school's program to another may mean that there are master's level courses/competencies you would still need to take. Sometimes you just have to take the master's level final exam that the new school's students take. In other cases, you may have to re-take courses similar to what you've taken before.

    From there, you continue to the PhD coursework.
  7. Mar 15, 2013 #6
    My school didn't have any additional required coursework after the MS, just the expectation you would take everything relevant and focus on your research. It took me about four years after finishing my classes to get my degree.

    Again, it depends on the school. I imagine if you already had an MS they'd want you to take a least a few courses in the department.
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