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Is Chem Eng PhD worth it for me, or just Master's?

  1. May 23, 2013 #1
    My main reasons to want to do it would be
    - because I love to study (both solving problems and doing research)
    - to feel like I have made a contribution to the field
    - Also, the title of a PhD is attractive and earns respect; it's like having a huge intellectual penis.
    - I'm not really in it for the money, but I do know that a PhD earns somewhat more than a Master's. Plus most PhD programs are fully funded while most Master's programs are not funded at all.

    Then here are my reasons for doing just a Master's:
    - again, because I love to study
    - can get further than just a BS
    - would be just an additional year for me, because I will have taken a few MS courses in my senior year
    - can get started in my career earlier. I know that I want to go into industry, but even if I do a PhD I don't know if I definitely would do R&D, so I would keep my options open. Besides, knowing what I need to know fresh for the job would be better for me and the employers than having a PhD and being overspecialized, having a less than clear memory of the "basics".

    So a few questions that would help me decide are,
    - In the future, do you see having a PhD to guarantee much more job stability than MS? Since the world's career market is becoming increasingly specialized day by day, do you think the overspecialization of a PhD would actually be beneficial for the whole picture of the job market than PhD?
    - How actually true is the idea of "getting a MS just opens more doors than BS, but getting a PhD can close some doors as well"? I'm talking about just industry.
    - I think my chances of getting into a PhD program at a university of equal or more prestige than mine would be difficult for me, as I currently attend a school pretty high up there, my GPA is acceptable but not high, and while I have done research for a long time and have a publication coming out soon that I worked w/ a grad student on, my research history isn't impressive like those who have published 5+ papers with themselves as the first author. I can get Master's at the same institution, and even if I wanted to go somewhere else, MS would be much easier to get into than PhD. How true is the idea of "the last institution you attended is the most important) when it comes to a PhD? Would my lowering trend in institution quality speak badly for me? (the word "prestige" wasn't used as a means to brag, but just speaking in terms of rankings)

  2. jcsd
  3. May 27, 2013 #2
    Depends on what you want to do. If you want to do real research in a chemical related field you need a PHD nowadays to be competitive. Master's means a lot in other industries but not so much in chemical industries. Generally if you get a master's it's best to come back and get an MBA after you start moving up the management route at a company.

    Almost every job not in R&D for a chemical engineer is open to you with a bachelors. Also chemical engineers work in such a huge variety of industries you might get a worthless degree. For example, I never would have thought of getting a petroleum engineering master's or an EE master's degree but now that I'm in the field I'm seeing a lot more upwards mobility for me in those sectors. I work in the oil business now but recently have found the calling of optics and am thinking of switching out.

    Plus making some real money while you make that decision is always nice and a lot of companies will pay for your master's if you get into a real big one like Chevron or 3M.
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