Can we get a PhD degree without a master’s?

The master’s or post-graduation degree is the most popularly required to get admission into the PhD, though with the bachelor’s degree, the student can get into a PhD in some cases. 

The structural hierarchy of the education system is 10+2 schooling, 3 or 4 years of graduation, 1 or 2 years of master’s or post-graduation, 2 years of MPhil and 3 to 6 years of a doctoral degree.

Every student in every country has to follow the traditional path to step higher in their academia. Though, it may vary. The PhD needs a master’s degree as the main criteria through the traditional way of getting into it. And it is the most popular and common too. 

It is less complex and anyone with a master’s degree can apply for a PhD- a straight, simple and universally accepted way

PhD- the doctor of philosophy degree, most renowned higher education degree and gained popularity in the early 19s. It is given in every field and subject, though the criteria and process of application vary. The same may vary among universities too. 

Good grades in master’s are enough to appear in the PhD interview, still, some universities conduct entrance exams to filter students and allow only the best on the gates of doctoral. 

It’s hard to get! You know. 


There are other ways too, to get a PhD degree without post-graduation or master’s degree, Or in other words, PhD needs Bachelor’s only in some. 

Here is the article stating which are the conditions, under-graduates can directly enroll in PhD, or to get a PhD without a master’s degree. 

How to get a PhD without a masters degree? 

There are a couple of ways, obviously legit one! You can be into PhD after your graduations. To go further, we need to first understand several cases, in some subjects, the graduation is of 3 years while in others it is of 4 yours, for instance, graduation in science, fine arts or commerce are of 3 years while graduation in engineering and other subject is of 4 yours. 

The students of the 4-year graduation system can directly apply for a doctorate degree, if!!! They have a strong, solid and outstanding undergraduate background. Which means, around first-class and some research background. 

You have to submit a strong research proposal that must convince a guide to take you into a higher degree. But after that, you will have to first study one year of master’s programs or the syllabus of your topics to go further. 

In another way, with four years of graduation, after getting into the PhD, you need to do one year of MPhil as a research degree to go further. Master of Philosophy is a moderate level of research degree needed to appear in the PhD, however not mandatory. 

During the MPhil you have to do research to provide knowledge by recreating the existing knowledge. MPhil needs a dissertation thesis and the viva to award. If a student fails to complete it, they can’t go further into PhD. 

Even if the prospective candidate passes the viva session and the supervisor thinks he or she can’t do better in PhD, a candidate can’t go ahead in the PhD. So these are the limitations of direct PhD tickets without master’s.

Three possible conditions you have to face by overcoming master’s (and through MPhil): 

If you fail, you can’t go further in doctoral or course work. 

If you pass but can’t perform well, or your guide doesn’t satisfy with your work, you can’t go ahead for a doctoral. 

If you pass the MPhil with excellent work, you can go further in doctorate with coursework. 

Another way of getting direct PhD admission after undergraduate and bypassing the master’s is integrated PhD programs. 

Many universities across the world offer integrated PhD programs in which master’s degree and PhD are covered simultaneously as a one ‘integrated degree’, although masters degree will be of only one year. 

Integrated programs are usually of 4 years; having one year of master’s degree and three years of PhD during which a candidate needs to clear the final examination of their master’s. 

The benefit of integrated programs is that the prospective candidate doesn’t need to go for MPhil or two years of post-graduation. Furthermore, no need to clear the entrance examination.

Read more: PhD student- What Skills and Qualities One Should Acquire? 

Criteria to get into PhD without master’s are: 

  1. A strong research background. 
  2. A strong research project. 
  3. Recommendation for a guide. 
  4. Excellent skills to do research. 
  5. Higher and excellent bachelor’s grade. 

Different students have different reasons to avoid master’s degree, but before thinking to avoid master’s checkout the advantages and disadvantages of doing PHD without the master’s degree.

Advantages of getting PhD without a master’s: 

It saves time. 

One of the biggest advantages of PhD without master’s is that it saves time of 2 to 3 years for a candidate. A students’ save time for master’s and MPhil by directly going to a doctoral program.

Another good side of it is that it saves money too. As students aren’t going for master’s or MPhil, additional course expenses are saved. They can use it in their PhD research. 

The excellent thing about doing this is you can choose a project that you like, otherwise, if you wait for master’s, within two years, it is possible that someone else will get it. If the project is related to your previous work or work interest, that might be a good deal for you. 

Disadvantages of getting PhD without master’s: 

Everything has goods and bads, and so in this case also, doing a direct PhD might be a bad choice in some cases.  

What if someone pushes you in a sea and you don’t know swimming! Exactly the same situations you have to face while directly enrolling into doctoral without the post-graduation. 

The first thing is! Master’s degree or MPhil gives you some hands-on experience on how to do research and write a dissertation. You will also gain more knowledge on your subject. So it’s a necessary step, as per my opinion. 

In another scenario, for a particular project or position, you will have to directly compete with master’s or MPhil candidates whose knowledge and experience  are more than yours as an undergraduate candidate. 

Therefore your chance of getting into doctorate will decrease.   

Why is a masters’ or MPhil degree required? 

To explain the importance of the higher degree, I will give a condition, write your views on ‘COVID pandemic’. What do you expect from a bachelor’s degree holder, a master’s and a doctoral holder? Obviously, the philosopher can give more knowledge on the present topic, and so the master’s or MPhil degree holder too. 

The reason is, they have more recognition than the bachelor’s and therefore their analytical thinking and knowledge are more. 

The master’s degree is designed dedicatedly focusing only one a specific interdisciplinary subject. For instance, if you have chosen microbiology in bachelor’s degree, you can choose microbial genetics only, during master’s, means, you can explore this aspect of the subject more indepthly. 

In addition to this, the master of philosophy is a kind of practice session, we can say, to learn how to do research. So both are very important to get into PhD. A mature student can only justify the doctoral. This is the reason the post-graduation degree is highly recommended to get admission into PhD. 

Advantages of doing master’s: 

  • More powerful hold on interdisciplinary subject or topic. 
  • Brief understanding of research methodology. 
  • Powerful hold on techniques and methods. 
  • Advanced analytical and critical thinking ability. 
  • More maturity as a student. 

Honorary PhD- the rare case scenario!

Though, a master’s degree is the primer criteria to award PhD, but a bachelor’s can go for it, as we explained. Honorary PhD is another case in which a PhD degree is awarded to a person even without going to school or college. For that outstanding and groundbreaking achievements in their field is must. 

Read more: A Complete Roadmap for Degree to PhD.


In the past, it was common for bachelor’s degree holders to get a doctorate, especially in the UK. Note that universities openly not claiming to award PhD to the bachelor’s degree holder but as I said it can be given. 

To appear in the PhD without a master’s, integrated masters’ and PhD programs are the best choice. You can go to the university website and search related information.

As per my opinion, if you do not have hands- on experience, research knowledge and how to write research papers, even if you have the opportunity to go for a PhD after graduation, avoid it. 

Do master’s and learn research methodology and other things related to PhD. Trust me, it is very difficult for inexperienced students to do research or research writing during PhD. 

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