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Is it a wise choice to go for a PhD without research experience?

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I am interested in applying to grad schools for MS/PhD in Electrical Engineering (signal processing is my area of focus).

I have done courses and signal processing related electives in EE. However, I have no research experience in this field.
The couple of projects that I have done during my undergrad are all in pure mathematics (since that was what I was earlier interested in).
I will be doing my final year project in speech processing, but as of now I can't count that as 'research experience'.

In the long run, I might be interested in a PhD, but can't give that sort of commitment to a new field right now.
Would you suggest-
(a) Getting admitted into a Masters program and then converting to PhD later (funding issues)
(b) Getting admitted into a PhD program and quitting with a Masters in case I find it too hard

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Well...it depends.

Do you really want a PhD but you're having imposter syndrome issues, or are you truly unsure about what you want to do?

If you know you want a PhD, but you're just afraid, I think either option is a good one. A note about option A is that you often don't "convert" to a PhD later; you will likely have to reapply to PhD programs in your second year of the master's degree (or after you finish), even if you want to attend the same program in which you did your MS. You may prefer option B for that reason and for the reason that you may have to pay for the master's - although my understanding is that MS degrees in engineering are often funded. If you really, truly think that you want a PhD and a career as a researcher, there's no harm in entering the PhD program and chugging along. As you say, you can always leave later if you find it's not right for you - although leaving can often be a lot harder than you think.

If you aren't sure whether you want a PhD, or you don't really want one right now but you may want one in the future, I strongly suggest option A. First, it's unethical to accept a place in a PhD program when you know up front you don't intend to finish it. (That's not the same thing as deciding part way through that it's not for you and quitting.) Secondly, PhD programs are not set up to help master's candidate to find jobs, so if you knew you wanted to leave after the master's degere to work for a few years you may not find the career counseling support you would at a professional master's program. Third, leaving PhD programs are emotionally and financially more difficult than most people anticipate, I think.

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