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Do low Masters grades affect career chances?

  1. Jul 16, 2012 #1
    hi everyone,

    I have the following situation:

    Years ago I got a BCom with pretty high grades (correspond to ~3.5 GPA), several years later did Masters in Stats with pretty low results (B- average) at a good school and somehow squeezed into a PhD in CS at an average school.

    After three years I have 5 publications (some with citations), 2 of them are in the highest-ranked forums in my area, and I'm the primary author of all 5. On the way I managed to get the university pay me a scholarship and won several competitions.

    I'm submitting this year, and looking at different career options. My dream job is to get a postdoc (I'm not fussy about university rankings), the next-best would be a research job in the industry (not in finance/consulting/insurance though, as I hate these three!). If these two fail, I'll have to get a bachelor-level job.

    So here's my main concern: How likely it is that the low grades I got in Masters affect job decision in each of these three options?

  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 16, 2012 #2


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    Education Advisor

    I am perhaps not the best person to answer your question; however, from what I understand based on conversations with friends who have earned their PhD, your publication record, your achievements in your PhD program (including any awards or scholarships offered -- you did mention you won a number of competitions), any references from your advisors, as well as any pertinent job experience or internship all have a far more significant impact on your job prospects than your grades from your Masters program.
  4. Jul 16, 2012 #3
    Be prepared to explain to an employer why those grades were low. Have a short story about how you had difficulty performing then but overcame those obstacles and performed well more recently. Do not go into specifics.

    IMHO you've put those low grades in the past, and as long as you don't blow it in the interview they'll have little impact on your future job.
  5. Jul 16, 2012 #4
    Q: What do you call someone who graduates last in their class from Med School?
    A: Doctor.

    I have known some very well educated idiots. I have also known some geniuses with no college education. Be prepared, as Locrian suggests; but you do not have to be ashamed of passing anything, even if it was by the smallest of margins.
  6. Jul 16, 2012 #5
    Thanks for the encouragement; I'd be even more grateful if you could share some thoughts or experiences in the matter though)
  7. Jul 16, 2012 #6
    I can't help you a whole lot there because I am not much of an academic. One thing to keep in mind, though: publications matter. Stress those. Classroom teaching is limited. Everyone knows this at some intuitive level.
  8. Jul 17, 2012 #7


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    Gold Member

    I don't think anyone in academia will care at all about your MSc results. The "rule" in academia is that it is how well you performed in your last job that counts (which works both ways, a very good PhD won't help you much if you don't do well as a post-doc if you want to apply for a permanent position later).

    In industry it might work a bit differently. However, if you manage to find a job where the skills you picked up a PhD student are relevant I doubt they care either.
    I guess there might be a problem if you apply for jobs where "only" a MSc would be enough and the PhD is only a bonus (or even a disadvantage since they would have to pay you more); especially if you did badly in MSc courses in that particular field.
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