Post # 1
I am currently in a PhD physics program, and I have told myself whether a PhD is really what I want right now. My DH who has a MS in physics is having such a hard time finding a job in his field because he is over qualified for almost all “entry” jobs. Seriously, he has like very little experience because he could not find a job right after graduating. Sometimes, I wonder if having a PhD is similar in the way that you are over qualified for most jobs and qualified for only a few making it such a competitive process. I am not even sure if all I want to do is teach or do research. I need the person-to-person interaction (social aspect) not just in the lab. I know that if I stick with my MS for now, I can always go back to school and get my PhD. I love school especially when I find other interests/areas more appealing.
For those of you who have gotten their PhD, what are the drawbacks? Would you rather just have gotten your MS or BS? Why choose the MS option only? Advantages and disadvantages of getting just an MS?
Post # 2
- Wedding: October 2014 - The Wayside Inn
I’m getting my PhD, although in the humanities instead of the sciences. It might be differnet for you, but the kinds of jobs I can consider applying for with a PhD are worlds apart from what I could get with my MA. They’re completely different job markets, basically. But I’m hedging my bets by using summers to gain different kinds of work experience. Maybe you can work out a similar strategy?
Post # 3
I dont have a PhD, but my mom does and her issues with looking for work were a lot of places wouldnt hire her because they thought she was “overqualified” and assumed she would quit once she found a job that better fit her qualifications.
She found something eventually but it took a lot longer than I feel that it should have.
Post # 4
I’m assuming you’re talking about industry jobs, so in that case, definitely a PhD, especially if the master’s is not funded and the PhD is. Sure it may take a while to get a job (it took me about 3 months), but you’ll get a much better job with a PhD than a master’s. There are a lot of jobs that you just cannot get to with a master’s, and then others that you can, but you have to work up from a lower-level job. I would stick with it, and it really should will pay off.
If I only had a MS, I would probably be doing some sort of lab tech or research assistant job making ~$45K. I feel like there is a lot of respect for PhDs in industry, and you are given a lot of responsibility and freedom because of your degree. I got several interviews for great jobs that required a PhD and got two of them. I can’t think of any drawbacks to getting a PhD other than being in school for a long time. Yes, you are overqualified for some jobs that you probably don’t really want, but you will be able to find a better job anyway.
Post # 5
candy11: I have a PhD but I’m in a different field than you are (still hard sciences though–neuroscience) and I think that it’s very field-dependent, so maybe take what I say with a grain of salt. What I was told when I was applying for graduate school 6-7 years ago is that if you have any desire to go into academia some day, a PhD is 100% worth the extra time. But if you’re only interested in being in industry, then an MS might be totally fine. With that said, I don’t often find that I’m overqualified for any of the types of jobs I’m looking for, even in industry. And fwiw, I work in a lab and have a TON of person-to-person interaction, I think that notion of research is a bit antiquated, at least in the biomedical sciences. Honestly, I say go for the PhD. Extra education is never wasted, the only drawback is the extra time/effort.
ETA: I do agree with RunnerBride13: that it might be EASIER to get a job in industry with an MS, but the job you’ll get will be better with a PhD. Kind of depends what you’re looking for.
Post # 6
littlegraykitten: My PhD is neuro too! I had to get out of the lab though!!
Post # 7
RunnerBride13: Yay neuro!! Yea I totally get that, I also felt like I was so done after defending and needed to get out of the lab, but I actually wound up in a postdoc (very long story!) about 8 months ago and I’m shocked that I’m really loving it. Not to threadjack, but do you mind telling me what you’re doing now?
Post # 8
candy11: Another PhD student, but in a ‘soft’ science. Obviously my experiences will be different from yours. I guess this depends. Does your program allow you to graduate after your quals with the MS? If you can do that and so not have to pay for your education, that might not be a bad idea. I don’t know what the physics world is like, but in my field you don’t really pursue a doctorate unless you expect you will want to continue with research or stay in academia.
Are there many applied research opportunities where you can do research but also get involved outside of the lab? Is that something you’d be interested in?
Post # 9
littlegraykitten: I did a postdoc and quit after 3 months I am now a medical writer and I love it (and make twice as much as I did as a postdoc!).
Post # 10
candy11: I’ve worked in a university, and I think PhDs with teaching to quite a bit of personal interaction. In fact some complain that they hardly ever get time for research.
I’m a little surprised that your husband’s MS is a disadvantage. I work in a technical field and I don’t think I’ve known an employer to consider an MS to be overqualified. PhD perhaps, but even then companies I’ve worked for have taken on PhDs for non-research positions. For “good” technical jobs, from my perspective I don’t think a PhD is ever bad. (Though I do know one person who felt he was passed over for some jobs because of it – but still always had a good job as far as I know).
I’ve also known people to go back and successfully do PhDs later on, so I don’t know if I’m really answering your question.
Post # 11
runlolarun: My life is basically working in the lab all summer every summer “to gain experience”, and it’s very much part of the program. We have no freedom to try new jobs but must continue with our projects or start a new one. I just found out my advisor is so closed-minded, and I am not happy with that.
a_day_at_the_fair: That’s what I am afraid of that it will take a long time, and I will end up not liking it.
RunnerBride13: littlegraykitten: I totally agree that with a PhD one can get a better job, no doubt about it. My issue is whether I want to continue in a field I am finding myself less and less interested. I am not so sure with a PhD in physics can help me get my dream job in health and environmental policy & education, and I have zero background on this. That’s a story for another thread 😉
So, I am here thinking whether it would be smart to start all over again or find a related-field and get an MS on it to not waste my time and efforts already put on this degree. My research is more biomedical, so I think the transition to a biomedical field could be easier. I feel lost!
qwerty2k1: What field are you in?
Post # 12
candy11: Hmmm ok yeah that makes it a little tricky. What kind of job are you looking for? I will tell you that I have done zero neuroscience in my job, but just having the PhD in a medicine-related field got me in the door. Is your physics research environmentally-related at all?
Post # 13
RunnerBride13: In fact yes, I am doing toxicology studies on animals, and we are hoping to use our nanoparticles for medical purposes. Yet, I keep thinking really can I get a degree in physics and not really be applying it on my reserach so far? I hope that makes sense.
Post # 14
I would think about what kind of job you want to be doing, then look up job postings for it. Do they want a PhD or an MS?
I’m one dissertation chapter away from my PhD, and I almost regret getting a PhD. The types of jobs I am looking at really only require an MS and experience. I could have finished my MS 3 years ago and been working in industry this whole time. Plus, as a PhD student I wasn’t allowed to work outside of the university, making me even less desirable as an applicant because I lack applied experience. Still, I only *almost* regret it because my PhD was free, and there are certain non-academic jobs in my field where having a PhD is a must (but they are in areas of the country that I don’t want to move to!)
Post # 15
If you are not sure about your interest in physics and find your interests evolving, do not go into a PhD program for physics. Physics PhDs are notoriously long, at least judging by my friends, and it is a really long slog. Why not consider a PhD in another area, such as a biomedical field? Even if you have been in physics for a long time, you could easily switch– you bring an amazing skill set to another area, where other people lack that perspective, so you have the opportunity to really do something new. You also could consider a policy/science hybrid MS program (I’m thinking things like the Technology and Policy(TPP) program at MIT) or an master’s in public health.
There are just SO many options out there, and really, unless you want to go into academia, a PhD in physics may not be worth it.