Anyone start their PhD 'straight from undergrad'?

posted
24-Jul-15, 21:45
edited about 19 seconds later
Avatar for PerceptuaLenna
posted about 5 years ago
I completed my UG degree *only* a few months before starting my PhD (in fact graduated in the same week as my interview).

Despite having been asked a lot of times, I can't say 'what it was like' doing this rather than doing a Masters/working/etc in between...The thing is that I've experienced a couple of people (one in particular) who see it as grounds for really condescending comments, and I wondered if anyone else had had something similar?

In my view, why on earth would someone who'd worked in an unrelated-to-research job for 8 years before doing an MRes and then beginning a PhD feel the need to act superior (in a research context) to someone who had begun their PhD in an unrelated topic in just the same month..? In terms of an academic/research career, aren't we both relatively rookies?

What a whinge... Lenna x
posted
24-Jul-15, 22:37
edited about 22 seconds later
by PhDiddy
Avatar for PhDiddy
posted about 5 years ago
Yep I did. Same thing. The institute I am doing my PhD now had al ready offered me a mphil but after reading my BA thesis they offered me a PhD straight away. But, I have to say, I al ready had 10 years of work experience before enrolling into a UG course.

I didn't face condescending comments though. I do think it's quite hard, when not trained in a MA degree. Feels like playing for 2nd league shite team and then immediately have to perform in a Champions League match. Pressures me a bit.

Don't take shit from them, they might be just jealous for your achievement. Just must have written an outstanding thesis and had great results. It's jealousy.... You've done very well for yourself.
posted
25-Jul-15, 06:22
Avatar for Barramack
posted about 5 years ago
I didn't think it was possible to go straight into a PhD from an undergraduate degree, unless you had done an additional honours year and written a thesis.
posted
25-Jul-15, 15:22
Avatar for MrDoctor
posted about 5 years ago
At my university, there a handful of people who went straight to funded PhDs from undergraduate.

In all cases, they had received very high First Class degrees (75-80 average marks), and got in on the strength of their research proposals.

I think an MA is beneficial, and don't agree with the undergrad-PhD process, but that's nothing personal, and I wouldn't treat anyone differently for not doing an MA. I just think you're more academically mature having done one, in terms of you know what to expect and troubleshoot a little easier.
posted
26-Jul-15, 01:40
by awsoci
Avatar for awsoci
posted about 5 years ago
Hi Lenna,

Where abouts are you located? I ask because this is actually dependent on the country you're in.

I did a PhD straight from an honours bachelor degree. However, I did my undergrad in Canada where I am from, but did my PhD in Australia.

I found out the other day from a senior colleague that in Australia, it is expected that you go straight into a PhD program from an honours degree (and the honours year is considered a separate year to your degree, whereas in Canada, my honours year was part of an overall 4 year program). If you fail to get into a PhD program straight from your honours, you get a Masters which is seen as a 'back door' to the PhD program.

I know, it's a bit mental isn't it? A masters here is 'proof' that you didn't do well in your honours year, and many students who choose to do a masters are strongly encouraged to upgrade to the PhD program (which is what I did, because coming from Canada, I applied for a Masters by Research thinking I had to do a masters first, but upgraded immediately to the PhD program). But this is not the same mentality that you'll find in North America.

Has it impacted me? Yes and no. Despite not doing a masters and feeling behind, that doesn't mean I am behind. I have a (fixed-term contract) faculty position as an assistant lecturer at my institution post PhD graduation, have managed to so far grab three research grants in my first year here, presenting at a conference in October and have three publications under review, one which came back as a very encouraging revise and resubmit (which for this particular journal is a good outcome).

I still think, however, that doing a masters first is better for you in terms of getting you more situated within academia, and gives you more time to publish work. But going straight into a PhD program is not necessarily a disadvantage.
posted
26-Jul-15, 10:39
Avatar for DrJeckyll
posted about 5 years ago
Hi Lenna,

I did an Msc before starting the PhD. The master was a good investment, as it got me up to speed in the new field ( my undergrad was loosely related to my PhD), and also I acquired the ability to write scientific reports: i have never written a scientific report before, so it was a big stepping stone for me. Also the master helped me acclimatise in a new city and new educational system. However, I can easily imagine that the master would have been redundant for someone with a different background who already had these skills.

Well done for starting a PhD and good luck !
posted
27-Jul-15, 13:04
edited about 12 seconds later
Avatar for butterfly20
posted about 5 years ago
Quote From PerceptuaLenna:
I completed my UG degree *only* a few months before starting my PhD (in fact graduated in the same week as my interview).

Despite having been asked a lot of times, I can't say 'what it was like' doing this rather than doing a Masters/working/etc in between...The thing is that I've experienced a couple of people (one in particular) who see it as grounds for really condescending comments, and I wondered if anyone else had had something similar?

In my view, why on earth would someone who'd worked in an unrelated-to-research job for 8 years before doing an MRes and then beginning a PhD feel the need to act superior (in a research context) to someone who had begun their PhD in an unrelated topic in just the same month..? In terms of an academic/research career, aren't we both relatively rookies?

What a whinge... Lenna x



I've got to be honest, people who come straight from undergrad to PhD make me feel quite bitter. Don't get me wrong, no one had the right to make you feel beneath them or that you don't deserve to be there, but for me I worked two jobs for three years in "non academic" positions before I could get onto a PhD so people who manage to get there straightaway do make me envious. Also the postgrads in my uni who came straight from undergrad I find very disrespectful, I think it's the novelty of now having people who used to be their lecturers now being their colleagues, but they're always gossiping and bitching about other members of staff.

I don't think you deserve any ill treatment like I said, everyone's route to a PhD is different and some people look on others as having it "too easy", which is probably why people are being like that towards you.
posted
28-Jul-15, 20:04
edited about 24 seconds later
Avatar for PsychAlpaca
posted about 5 years ago
I am in England and I went straight from UG to PhD. Basically a fully funded PhD post was advertised in conjunction with a teaching position, I applied, was interviewed and was deemed the best candidate. I was very shocked cause I thought that I would need a MSc first but apparently my grades in certain classes and my volunteering work with certain groups made me a contender.
However, I am a mature student so that might have also gone in my favour??

Don't ever feel bad for being chosen over other people, the supervisors obviously saw something great in you and it is their criteria that you needed to fullfil not anyone elses.
posted
06-Aug-15, 23:16
by s0phie
Avatar for s0phie
posted about 5 years ago
I did a masters before my PhD and knew a couple of people who started PhDs straight from bachelors instead. At the time I felt it was unfair that others didn't do a masters beforehand but that was because I had always been under the impression (from members of academic staff!) that it was necessary to do a masters in order to start a PhD. Personally, now I am glad for the research experience from my masters and think it helped me more in the beginning of my PhD with knowledge and confidence. It sounds like the other person is feeling insecure about themselves and are taking it out on you. Even so there is no excuse for condescending comments etc. Stand your ground - I agree with PhDiddy - don't take their crap, otherwise their comments will probably just continue.
posted
07-Aug-15, 08:54
edited about 3 minutes later
by Dunham
Avatar for Dunham
posted about 5 years ago
Quote From s0phie:
I did a masters before my PhD and knew a couple of people who started PhDs straight from bachelors instead. At the time I felt it was unfair that others didn't do a masters beforehand but that was because I had always been under the impression (from members of academic staff!) that it was necessary to do a masters in order to start a PhD. Personally, now I am glad for the research experience from my masters and think it helped me more in the beginning of my PhD with knowledge and confidence. It sounds like the other person is feeling insecure about themselves and are taking it out on you. Even so there is no excuse for condescending comments etc. Stand your ground - I agree with PhDiddy - don't take their crap, otherwise their comments will probably just continue.


I believe there is a reason why most countries demand a completed master degree to start a PhD or offer long PhD studentships, where the first one or two years are more a orientation phase that is equivalent to a master (e.g. US). You read a lot of stories here from people who started in labs and basically lacked understanding of the methods they were supposed to work with. If so, you need a looot of guidance at the beginning and not every lab can spent the time to get a PhD student to a point that he/she can work independently. Most labs demand a repertoire of standard methods and also the experience to learn new methods by yourself, without a Post Doc or PhD studen who has to show you every step. It's of course highly dependent on the area you are working with but I think it is good that this option is limited to exceptionally "bright" students who performed really well during their bachelors. It's for your own good. However, I can understand that you might look at this differently if you have to pay for your master degree....that's of course another aspect.
posted
07-Aug-15, 09:42
edited about 24 seconds later
Avatar for TreeofLife
posted about 5 years ago
Quote From Dunham:
[quote]
I believe there is a reason why most countries demand a completed master degree to start a PhD or offer long PhD studentships, where the first one or two years are more a orientation phase that is equivalent to a master (e.g. US). You read a lot of stories here from people who started in labs and basically lacked understanding of the methods they were supposed to work with. If so, you need a looot of guidance at the beginning and not every lab can spent the time to get a PhD student to a point that he/she can work independently. Most labs demand a repertoire of standard methods and also the experience to learn new methods by yourself, without a Post Doc or PhD studen who has to show you every step. It's of course highly dependent on the area you are working with but I think it is good that this option is limited to exceptionally "bright" students who performed really well during their bachelors. It's for your own good. However, I can understand that you might look at this differently if you have to pay for your master degree....that's of course another aspect.


Whilst I agree that a MSc is usually beneficial prior to beginning a PhD, and that it can be difficult starting in a lab when you have no lab experience at all, I disagree that this means you need a lot of guidance and won't be independent. This depends on the student. Lab experience does not equal ability to work independently. For example, I know lots of students (mainly international ones) with years of lab experience that find it hard to think for themselves, or fix their lab problems. On the other hand, there are plenty of students (me included) that have other experience that enables them to work independently with minimal guidance because they are capable of researching problems and thinking things through to resolve them.
posted
07-Aug-15, 10:17
edited about 1 minute later
by Dunham
Avatar for Dunham
posted about 5 years ago
I didn't want to generalize it, but you can have a lot of lab experience and be capable of thinking things through, one does not exclude the other. On average, a master student will be more experienced in both ways compared to a bachelor graduate. Simply because of 2 years more experience (both life and academic). Of course you find bachelor students who perform well and even better than students with a master degree. On the other hand, Master students who perform worse than a bachelor student probably would have performed worse without the master degree too ;) You just have a problem if you hire a PhD student for e.g. molecular work and the person never did cloning, qPCR, enzyme assays and stuff like that for a longer period. Someone who did these methods a lot will trouble shoot much more efficiently. If you have to ask your lab mates for instructions everytime then you completely rely on a nice team that takes the time to introduce you. That's not always the case and especially many post docs are busy with their stuff and have the attitude that it is not their job to show you how to do your job ;)

I excluded bachelor graduates who worked for a while. That is of course a whole other story :)
posted
19-Aug-15, 17:33
by Eds
Avatar for Eds
posted about 5 years ago
Interesting though that going by the examples given, this is relatively common in the field of sciences and not in arts/ humanities.

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