grad school

Karen Wheless wheless at
Sat Jan 25 20:37:04 EST 1997

>        I was wondering what current thoughts were on the subject of a MS
>vs a PhD. I realize that this is not a simple question and that it
>involves a variety of personal experiences, however I need some solid
>advice. I have the opportunity to choose between two extremely desirable
>graduate programs one a two year masters, the other a five to seven year
>PhD. The time in the program is not really as important as what happens
>at the other end. I am 39 I have a wonderful supportive family. Any

It really depends on what you want to do with your degree.  For a job in
academia, a PhD is pretty much required except in special cases.  Even for
smaller colleges, there are so many candidates with PhD's that are
competing for jobs, that one with an MS would have to be outstanding.

For industry, it's less clear.  I switched from a PhD program to a
masters, and I found that it's easier to get a job with a masters (in
organic chemistry).  But, will I end up being limited later on?  It
depends on if you're more interested in running the lab or doing the
experimental work (although there's lots of overlap). 

A very important factor is what you learn in grad school.  Once you're in
your job, you won't have as much chance to learn new techniques and
subject areas.  An MS with lots of experience in different areas and types
of work will have more flexiblity and "attractiveness" to an employer than
a PhD that's narrowly focused.  Choose your advisor and your research
projects very carefully so that you don't end up limited by someone else's
interests and priorities.  Your choice of advisor is probably more
important than the "graduate program" in general.

Good luck!  Karen  (wheless at
        Karen Wheless          wheless at
"Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?"  Henry Ward Beecher

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