Is it worth it to try for a PhD program first, then if rejected go for an MS program - Questions and Answers - The GradCafe Forums
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Is it worth it to try for a PhD program first, then if rejected go for an MS program



I'm not sure how qualified I am to be applying for a PhD in Environmental Science/Policy. I already have an Masters in Urban Planning but it was more of a professional master's program. I'm looking into programs that are interdisciplinary and that offer research opportunities in the human dimensions of the environment.

Since working in the architecture and planning industry for the past three years (and seeing how messed up the system is) I really want to get out and conduct research on my local environmental/development governance systems as it relates to actual data. Problem is I don't have prior research experience. I did slightly above average in my undergraduate and master's programs GPA-wise, and I have yet to take the GREs (scheduled, but haven't taken it yet). I think I have 2-3 professors from within the past four years I could reach out to for recommendation letters, and am considering asking a supervisor here in my company for the third.

A professor from my time in my master's program has suggested going straight into a PhD and not getting a second Master's. However, I feel ill-prepared in terms of prerequisite courses/research experience. Is this the best way to go about it, then apply for an MS if rejected? I'd also like to know if it's worth a shot at applying at all given my relatively poor stats as a candidate.

Thanks in advance.


Edited by laekkauai
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Thanks @rising_star  -- I didnt see your response til now! 

I've emailed a couple programs. One suggested getting an MS in environmental science. Another didn't say either way, though said to contact them when I'm interested.

I've spoken to one of my references, and she seems to think that it might be worth it to try applying directly to a PhD. My other mentor had suggested this earlier this year as well. I'm just really doubting my previous coursework (I definitely want to learn more in environmental chemistry and toxicology) -- though I know that PhDs are also made up of coursework to solidify one's area of expertise... 

Now considering applying to one PhD program to give it a shot since my GPA and GRE scores are within the average range that they posted on their website. Will also be applying to Master's programs as well. 

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