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Is a PhD I This Economy Worth It?

by Aero51
Tags: economy
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Aero51
#1
Nov29-12, 08:43 AM
P: 546
As I am currently looking to reapply to grad schools, I noticed when I call/email professors regarding research projects most of them say they have low or no funding and cannot support new grad students. Now, assuming they are not lying to me, the number of professors with low funding is astonishing. This makes me question whether or not a PhD is a financially good decision in the short term. What do you think? For professors and more knowledgeable people: what are the prospects of funding situations improving inthe next 2-4 years?
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BhutJolokia
#2
Nov29-12, 12:50 PM
P: 16
For what reasons do you want a PhD?
jtbell
#3
Nov29-12, 12:58 PM
Mentor
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P: 11,870
Which subject or field are we talking about here?

Aero51
#4
Nov29-12, 02:31 PM
P: 546
Is a PhD I This Economy Worth It?

Aerospace engineering. I want a PhD because I want a fullfilling career. I want to be challenged and I want to be "on the cutting edge". Also, I want to be an expert in the aerospace industry. And, of course, a PhD will earn a higher salary.
Locrian
#5
Nov29-12, 04:25 PM
P: 1,745
How is it that you determined a PhD would mean all those things in Aerospace engineering?
Aero51
#6
Nov29-12, 04:38 PM
P: 546
From my internship, I gathered my job would not be very challenging. It would be bottom of the totem pole work, which is expected, but not fullfilling. I figure with a PhD I will have the opportunity to divulge into a subject that I find fascinating and have the tools to advance the field.
claytonh4
#7
Nov29-12, 07:07 PM
P: 77
Quote Quote by Aero51 View Post
From my internship, I gathered my job would not be very challenging. It would be bottom of the totem pole work, which is expected, but not fullfilling. I figure with a PhD I will have the opportunity to divulge into a subject that I find fascinating and have the tools to advance the field.
I thought typically engineers don't bother with a PhD anyway, unless they want to do research at a university, in which case you wouldn't have that high of a salary. Not that that's a bad thing, but don't engineers who work directly in the industry make more?
Aero51
#8
Nov29-12, 07:24 PM
P: 546
I thought typically engineers don't bother with a PhD anyway, unless they want to do research at a university, in which case you wouldn't have that high of a salary. Not that that's a bad thing, but don't engineers who work directly in the industry make more?
From what I have read about professors salaries, they make a good salary. Aside from academics, you can also work at government or national labs. A lot of engineers with PhDs are the ones who get to do design work, which I would like best.
Choppy
#9
Nov29-12, 09:17 PM
Sci Advisor
P: 2,745
As far as funding for graduate work goes, with a letter of acceptance they will outline the level of financial support you can expect over the duration of your degree. When a professor has funding, what that means is that he or she will be able to support you directly and you won't have to take on teaching duties as a condition of the support. In some places, the funding is not guaranteed over the summer either. So there's that to consider as well.

In terms of the general economy, I suspect that we won't see things turn around too quickly, but I'm not an economist (although I probably have about as much a chance of getting it right as some of them do). Even if the economy does turn around, you really have to pay attention to scientific funding. Physics Today usually publishes the relevant American budgets on an annual basis. I don't know if funding tracks directly with economic indicies or not. I suspect there's a about a year or so lag like there is in healthcare.

Ultimately, I think this is really more of an individual decision rather than a global one. When you get into graduate school, will YOU be funded, and to what extent? When YOU get out for graduate school, will you be able to find employment given the skill set you've developed and the credentials you have?
Aero51
#10
Nov29-12, 10:26 PM
P: 546
Ultimately, I think this is really more of an individual decision rather than a global one. When you get into graduate school, will YOU be funded, and to what extent? When YOU get out for graduate school, will you be able to find employment given the skill set you've developed and the credentials you have?
This is 100% true and these are questions I will think about in the coming days. Thank you.
Locrian
#11
Nov30-12, 10:24 AM
P: 1,745
Quote Quote by Aero51 View Post
I figure with a PhD I will have the opportunity to divulge into a subject that I find fascinating and have the tools to advance the field.
(My emphasis)

I think you need to review your assumptions and ensure they're accurate.

Wish you the best with whatever you choose,

locrian
Jupiter6
#12
Nov30-12, 11:38 PM
P: 128
I know the graduate funding for engineering at my alma mater dropped alot between 2007 and 2010. So I don't think they're lying to you.

I think it's been a trend in the last couple of decades that a PhD. in an engineering field pigeonholes you into a niche which limits jobs as opposed to someone with a masters. The only reason I would consider PhD. would be to teach.


If you want to be an expert in the Aerospace industry, I'd suggest taking your BS to an airplane manufacturer and getting a ground floor job where you get to interface with the manufacturing floor. As you work your way up from there and slip into design, a Masters and perhaps a pilot's license would be in order. I think you'd learn far more that way rather than getting a PhD right off the bat.


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