Does Master's Degree have to be related to Phd


Is it possible after studying a Master's Degree to do a Phd in a different subject? How related to the Master's Degree subject can the Phd subject be - if at all?


How different is different? What about your Bachelors - was that a similar area?

It would be unusual to do a PhD in something that didn't relate to your Bachelors OR your Masters, unless the skills were relevant but the topic quite different.

I think we might need more info to help.

Avatar for Pjlu

Hi Rob, I think it is possible but just a bit more of a challenge. By this I mean, taking my own experience as an example: my Master's thesis opened up my potential doctoral project for me and when putting in my doctoral proposal, I found all of the thinking and research done in my Master's will be used as a foundation for my new study. I have even been accepted to give a conference paper at a National conference later this year (in OZ) based on the Master's thesis. (Something I am happy to do-even though nervous-because in this little area, I do know my stuff to some extent).

Because my studies are in the same area as my full time work, but are at a slight tangent to them, (they are sort of related but not directly related), I contemplated undertaking a different but related field that was absolutely in line with my present role and position for the doctorate. However, it is hard to do (not impossible but hard) because, I would need to really immerse myself in the literature in a new area before putting the proposal together and figuring out whether there truly were gaps, etc. And when I first began thinking about Phd's and EdD's, I didn't know as much as I do now and could say things with more confidence-even when I knew very little about them-I had more confidence in gut hunches. The Masters has made me realise what I do know but also how much I don't know-so I am less likely to want to put in a vague proposal in a different area on a hunch and a 'little bit of fishing' sort of research. My thinking and approach has been changed by doing the Masters.

However, having said all this, it isn't impossible-people seem to do this all the time and if you have the passion, the drive, the energy and the time then why not go for it(up). Good luck with your explorations and final decisions.


Hi rob!
technically im doing a phd which is totally different to my MSc and undergrad theses however it is still in the environmental sciences area but luckily my PhD is an extension to a small particular area i covered in my MSc taught courses... but yes its a challenge especially the literature review. I wish you luck and dont give up just because the subject is different to what you were doing the last few years... its a challenge and at the end of the day you´re broadening your knowledge and opening up to a new subject area which could be itneresting for you.

ecas :)


my undergrad and masters were related but my PhD is in a totally different area. I had to source all my readings, learn the key authors in my area etc - completely on my own. I (fingers crossed) am close to submission now and I admit I am a bit worried that I have covered everything. I 'think' I have but the doubts creep in everyso often. I'm the only person in my department studying this area so there is nobody to talk things through with.

So it's not impossible, nor unknown but it does involve a lot of extra work on your behalf, particularly at the beginning when you are trying to find your place in your discipline.


My BSc and MSc are in an area totally unrelated to my PhD subject. But I've had a long gap between my MSc and PhD and have done some other (related) courses in between, as well as gaining a professional qualification and experience. It would probably be very unusual to go straight from undergrad & masters to a PhD in a different subject, but otherwise I would say it depends on what else you have done! Good luck. :)


Just completing Masters and want to start PhD, you must start with your related Master's subject for PhD. But if you have good professional experience, you may take PhD with your profession relate.


My first degree and my two masters are in the same broad area of my PhD (education), but they cover so different aspects of it, that it feels as if they are completely different!
When I started my PhD I was thinking that it could be an extension of my second master! BUT the reality proved me wrong! It is completely different, different key theorists, different theories, different analysis...everything different! It's like learning a completely new subject area!
So, I guess if you are motivated and you love your subject you can do it!