Hello all. I have been following HSB since the past 3 months or so and it helped me immensely in almost about everything. I applaud the admin for this selfless and noble deed!
Read this post before continuing below – What Exactly is PhD?
I hope sharing what I know helps you out too! Like you, I am an aspirant for a graduate education too, starting next fall.
And just like the most of you, I was faced with the tough question : “Ph.D or MS?”
I am guessing most of you are aware of what these two terms mean.
PhD vs MS
MS is mostly a 2year course (however some universities can allow you a degree in less time than that, if some conditions are fulfilled, like completion of a project thesis and subject credits, for example).
But Ph.D is a variable-length course, with a minimum of 3.5 years and maximum of 7years mostly. It all depends on your work progress, thesis completion and approval of the same.
And another thing: unlike in India, both MS and PhD in US are termed as “graduate course” and not Postgraduate.
Your bachelor degree is “Undergraduate” course for them.
Now the biggie dilemma: MS or PhD?
Let me ask you a basic question: you must have planned for a higher education after your bachelors or other such equivalent course.
Why? Because you thought an added higher degree will give you a better edge over others (and I am not talking about people who do it just to get into US).
Very true! Similarly, Ph.D is obviously a higher and more valued degree than MS.
A common misconception is that PhD is done by only those who aspire for a career in the teaching profession. Wrong!!!
Nowadays, even R&D of reputed MNCs have started to prefer PhD scholars over a basic grad course. For those of you who are more bothered about the lucrative returns: yes, PhD will give you a fatter paycheck!
Pros and Cons
Alright now the pros and cons of the two. Beyond the fact that a PhD degree does have greater long-term benefits over MS, it has its own drawbacks too.
- First, it requires patience and a strong aptitude for research.
- Second, usually a university’s intake of PhD scholars is lesser than MS.
- Thirdly, the process is highly selective and generally requires a strong CV with some research publications in the related area (but not always; a buddy of mine got into Purdue 2years back without any research work; just a 9.2*cgpa and149o GRE score and a good BTP, didn’t get funding though).
And now the good part:
- PhD students get higher funding than an MS one and even if you do get into a university without a funding for the first semester, chances of your getting a scholarship from 2nd semester is higher than that in MS.
- Secondly, the credits required for completing PhD is far lesser (24) than MS so that ways, you can finish them off in the 1st year itself and then chill off, as most do (And by that, I don’t mean no-work-no-study, you have to work on your thesis!).
- Lastly, if your long term aim is PhD, then I suggest you to skip MS totally: it saves 2 years worth of time and money!
But then again, if you do get into an MS in US then getting into a PhD next in a good university is damned easy, in fact they prefer students from US universities for PhD.
Like, I am interested for PhD now, but I must kiss away any wishes of getting into MIT or Stanford or UCB, etc for that but if I go for an MS in some other univ (even if lesser ranked) now, there’s a tenfold chance of getting a chance of PhD in the above said univs after that.
But that is a big IF. If you do get a chance at PhD, just go for it!! Sometime in the future, you will be grateful that you did that, believe me!
The positives I mentioned attracted me and hence I am opting for PhD coming fall. I just cant wait to be done with my education ?
PhD and Professors
The above said, be careful when you do it. It is better to contact professors beforehand and communicate with them that you are interested to work for your PhD under their guidance.
And be very careful when you choose a professor. Check his profile, how many PhD scholars he has guided, what are his publications and awards, his project endowment, everything.
It is vital: it can make or break or career.
Remember there is nil value of a PhD degree if you have nothing commendable to show for it!
Don’t expect to be cooed and coerced and spoonfed in any kind of research work by your professor (be it MS or PhD); you have to work hard at it.
Everything said, I do realize the decision might still be confusing!
The pros and cons of each weigh each other out heavily!
When you apply for a univ, it requires you to specifically mention if you are interested for an MS or PhD.
Very rarely, univs like Purdue, for e.g. allow more than one option in your application or even evaluate your application for both degrees. It’s a tough call indeed! But who said it’s going to be easy??
Following post was shared by a reader who requested to stay anonymous.
But, anyone deciding between PhD or MS, this post has highlighted several aspects of PhD that stands out from MS.