A student who is a top-rate researcher with impressive grades may want to explore pursuing a Ph.D. in an area of interest. There are programs for students to skip obtaining a master’s degree and settle directly into an immersive Ph.D. program that can shave years off of their schooling.

Whether you are considering returning to school for a Ph.D. or are plotting your final year of undergraduate education to go immediately into a doctoral program, there are a few ways to make the transition from a bachelor’s to a Ph.D. as smooth and advantageous as possible.

Why a Ph.D. May be Beneficial

In the past, a bachelor’s degree was the zenith of higher education. However, as more students earned degrees at the bachelor level, the pool of graduate degrees increased as well. This changed the way employers and students thought about a four-year degree and a Ph.D.

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Those who strived for higher doctoral degrees became the new norm. Many entry-level positions in certain industries or subjects preferred applicants who had procured a Ph.D. in order to be considered for employment. A Ph.D. hopeful can go into a doctoral or master’s program straight from their undergraduate studies.

GRE and GPA

Most Ph.D. programs require a healthy GPA and a solid GRE score for a student to be considered. A GPA of 3.5 is preferred to get into a Ph.D. program.

Although each program is different, the average GRE scores for admittance to a Ph.D. program are:

  • AW: 3.48
  • Verbal: 161
  • Quant: 152

Don’t rely too heavily on these scores. A well-researched admission essay that concisely addresses topics that concern the college or department you are hoping to gain entrance to can increase your chances of admittance.

Advantages of a Ph.D. Program

If you aren’t sure if you should take a master’s or Ph.D. program, there are some advantages to the latter. A Ph.D. program can increase the number of opportunities to fund your schooling. There are more scholarships, fellowships and grants available to Ph.D. students than there are for those getting a master’s degree.

If the student is considering a highly competitive career, it may be more advantageous to pass immediately from an undergraduate program and into a respected Ph.D. program. Teachers, researchers, astronomers and physics professors are a few of the careers that benefit from a smooth transition into a Ph.D. program directly upon graduating from a four-year college.

B.A. to Ph.D. Programs

To move from a B.A. to Ph.D. programs, start the application process early to ensure you can create a stellar admission essay and complete all of the exams needed to get into your favored program. Choose a program that is based on the research interests of the faculty as well as the reputation of the school.

There are more than 50 accredited online doctoral programs that take five to six years to complete.

These include:

  • Capella University
  • Grand Canyon University
  • Walden University
  • Liberty University Online
  • Northcentral University

Ph.D. without a Master’s Degree

A Ph.D. shows the student’s talent for study, research and discipline. A Ph.D. paired with a master’s degree shows that the degree holder has gained more knowledge and has had a much more layered educational experience in the subject. Having both degrees can open more opportunities to the graduate.

Depending on the school, a Ph.D. graduate student may be awarded a master’s degree. A master's is sometimes also awarded to Ph.D. grad students if they complete a few extra courses in their subject of interest. Most research-based degrees offer this pathway to a master's to improve the student’s skills and possible published works.

About the Author

Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing about education, jobs, business trends and more for The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Today’s Parent and other publications. She graduated with a B.A. in Journalism from UNLV. Her full bio and clips can be seen at www.vegaswriter.com.