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Masters Of Research

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  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

Here in Australia some universities are transitioning to a new preparation program for a PhD called a Masters Of Research:
https://www.mq.edu.au/research/phd-and-research-degrees/explore-research-degrees/master-of-research/Master-of-Research-propectus-2018.pdf

If you want to go on and do the PhD then it takes just another 3 yeas,

Its interesting but I havent made up my mind if I like it or not - I can see pro's and cons. It's part of the Bologna Model where in many professions like engineering you do a bachelors then a two year Masters. They seem to be treating if you want to do research and go onto to do a PhD in the same way. What do others think?

Thanks
Bill
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Charles Link
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It could be beneficial having a program that emphasizes laboratory skills in a standardized way, as opposed to the graduate student needing to learn much of these in their own laboratory experiments.
 
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It could be beneficial having a program that emphasizes laboratory skills in a standardized way, as opposed to the graduate student needing to learn much of these in their own laboratory experiments.
Of course it could, and IMHO should nearly always be included.

However Laboratory skills are not required for math. And there is a debate I have seen elsewhere where laboratory skills are or are not required for mathematical physics. My view is people doing Mathematical Physics should do some, but of course not as many as an experimental physicist. After all science is the interplay between experiment and theory.

Thanks
Bill
 
  • #4
CrysPhys
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If a student elects to pursue a PhD, it probably makes no difference whether he pursues an intermediate Masters of Research degree first. So, the key issue is what is the value added of a Masters of Research degree should the student elect not to pursue a PhD. For example, in the US, a MS in ME or EE provides you with substantially better career opportunities than a BS; but a MS in Physics does not.
 
  • #5
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I can see how this can benefit some. I am unsure about how the educational environment is Australia. But in America, I have seen that Masters program help students who may not have done well in undergraduate, prepare them for a phd program. It also helps those in America, who may not have been able to go to a "good university," get up to speed and be actually able to survive in a PHD program.

Looking forward to the this discussion.
 
  • #6
symbolipoint
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I can see how this can benefit some. I am unsure about how the educational environment is Australia. But in America, I have seen that Masters program help students who may not have done well in undergraduate, prepare them for a phd program. It also helps those in America, who may not have been able to go to a "good university," get up to speed and be actually able to survive in a PHD program.

Looking forward to the this discussion.
The statement seems very contradictory. "Not don well in undergraduate" would mean, "not suitable for graduate-level program". The Master's degree program (Physics or Mathematics) are as most commonly understood, much MUCH more competetive to enter/be admitted to than undergraduate programs.
 
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The statement seems very contradictory. "Not don well in undergraduate" would mean, "not suitable for graduate-level program". The Master's degree program (Physics or Mathematics) are as most commonly understood, much MUCH more competetive to enter/be admitted to than undergraduate programs.
I understand what you are saying. But for some people, going off to college is their first time away from home. So different social and/or psychological factors come into play, in regards to these students, not preforming so well in undergrad. Maybe they had a "bad start," but once they were able to overcome what ever factors effect their performance. They were able to do well their last few years or so. Applying to a state school for a Masters and doing well + good GRE score, allows someone a possibility to enter a PHD program.

Granted, the number of success stories may be low. I am unsure what the numbers are. But, I have seen it work for people I know. The possibility still exist, so I tend to be optimistic...
 
  • #8
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I understand what you are saying. But for some people, going off to college is their first time away from home. So different social and/or psychological factors come into play, in regards to these students, not preforming so well in undergrad. Maybe they had a "bad start," but once they were able to overcome what ever factors effect their performance. They were able to do well their last few years or so. Applying to a state school for a Masters and doing well + good GRE score, allows someone a possibility to enter a PHD program.
True IMHO. But with such a masters they generally do not worry about GRE etc - its based as the link I gave on your marks biased more towards your final year. And they make clear the level required. Even if you do not do well in the Masters of Research and get between 65-75% rather than over 75% you can still be admitted to a Master Of Philosophy completion of which automatically guarantees admission to a PhD. If you are even a average, but hard working, student determined to get a PhD you can get it. If it will give you better job prospects is another matter. When I was a computer programmer and did job interviews for entry level/senior programmer jobs it will get my attention I can assure you. But would you have been better off getting job experience instead of a PhD - hard to say really. I think you will rise fairly quickly because of your more advanced knowledge - its real advantage though IMHO is breaking into the upper echelons - that Dr in front of your name means you automatically meet many of the selection requirements for such positions eg ability to do independent research and advise high level management.

Regarding the Engineering Masters that is very true - you have much better job prospects if you get one. That's why many schools over here have engineering as a two year Masters and those that do not are moving that way. I think people will change career fairly frequently in the future and you may end up doing a few different Masters through your working life. For example Big Data is hot right now and getting a masters is likely a good career move - for the time being. These things change. A few years ago mining engineering was really big - but now the mining boom has ended here in Aus its not a choice guaranteeing you a job any more.

Thanks
Bill
 
  • #9
CrysPhys
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True IMHO. But with such a masters they generally do not worry about GRE etc - its based as the link I gave on your marks biased more towards your final year. And they make clear the level required. Even if you do not do well in the Masters of Research and get between 65-75% rather than over 75% you can still be admitted to a Master Of Philosophy completion of which automatically guarantees admission to a PhD. If you are even a average, but hard working, student determined to get a PhD you can get it.
It appears that the assumption is that once a student has attained a PhD, employers will not care about about his past performance and his path to a PhD: whether it took him one shot, two shots, or three shots to hit his target. But it will be interesting how well that works out in practice. Consider Students A, B, and C. Student A was excellent as an undergrad and went straight to a PhD program. Student B was mediocre as an undergrad, was excellent in a Masters of Research program, and continued to a PhD program. Student C was mediocre as an undergrad, was mediocre in a Masters of Research program, completed a Masters of Philosophy program, and continued to a PhD program. I'm not at all sure that employers will view Students A, B, and C on the same footing (all things else being equal).
 
  • #10
f95toli
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This is essentially the format used by the CDTs (Centres for Doctoral Training) here in the UK. The format is 1+3 years with the first year mostly taken up by courses and other activities (visiting institutes/companies etc); at the end of the 1st year the students do a ~3 month (it varies) MRes project.
Note that here in the UK you need to already have an MSc to apply to a CDT; i.e. the MRes is in addition to -not instead of- the MSc.

I am currently supervising two students who are in this system. I believe the results are mixed.
The main advantages are that it attracts students with a mixed background (e.g. with degrees in engineering or other natural sciences such a chemistry who can "catch up" with coursework during the 1st year) and that it gives the students a chance try a few different things (different areas of experiment/.theory) and the MRes project is a good "taster session" (usually done in the group where the student is planning to do his/her PhD project). The fact that the student gets another degree also means that this is a natural point to leave the program for students who decide that a full PhD is not for them (not common, but it happens).

The obvious drawback is that it reduced the amount of time for the PhD project to 3 years. This makes it very, very hard complete more ambitious project or projects where you need a lot of training before you can get any results (e.g. project that involve fabricating samples). This in turn makes it harder to publish anything which in today's publish-or-perish climate can then make it hard to e.g. find a post-doc if they want to continue in academia.

If I'm to be honest I believe that single drawback outweighs the advantages. Perhaps they need to modify the system somewhat and make the program 4.5 year instead; an extra 6 months would really help.
 
  • #11
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Perhaps they need to modify the system somewhat and make the program 4.5 year instead; an extra 6 months would really help.
Good point. But my gut tells me even 6 months is too short - 1 year would be better.

The problem as I see it was what one of my professors told me when I was at uni - they are under great pressure to get people out there into workforce so maintaining standards is not always easy. An example that occurred to me is I did a math degree. It was generally expected all math students, pure or applied do their epsilonics (ie analysis). It was a compulsory first year subject but just before I graduated the professor who took me for my final year thesis/project said they have succumbed to student pressure and it was removed as a compulsory subject. To me that was sad.

How about if the Phd is 3 years, but instead of if you are good and get a distinction average, bypassing the Master Of Philosophy, everyone must do it? They could of course continue their theses into the PhD. They could of course stop there and go out to the workforce. I know it is an extra two yeas but a PhD is not supposed to be a race - you are supposed to be gaining research skills.

Thanks
Bill
 
  • #12
CrysPhys
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The obvious drawback is that it reduced the amount of time for the PhD project to 3 years. This makes it very, very hard complete more ambitious project or projects where you need a lot of training before you can get any results (e.g. project that involve fabricating samples). This in turn makes it harder to publish anything which in today's publish-or-perish climate can then make it hard to e.g. find a post-doc if they want to continue in academia.

If I'm to be honest I believe that single drawback outweighs the advantages. Perhaps they need to modify the system somewhat and make the program 4.5 year instead; an extra 6 months would really help.
Good point. But my gut tells me even 6 months is too short - 1 year would be better.
The problem as I see it was what one of my professors told me when I was at uni - they are under great pressure to get people out there into workforce so maintaining standards is not always easy. An example that occurred to me is I did a math degree. It was generally expected all math students, pure or applied do their epsilonics (ie analysis). It was a compulsory first year subject but just before I graduated the professor who took me for my final year thesis/project said they have succumbed to student pressure and it was removed as a compulsory subject. To me that was sad.

How about if the Phd is 3 years, but instead of if you are good and get a distinction average, bypassing the Master Of Philosophy, everyone must do it? They could of course continue their theses into the PhD. They could of course stop there and go out to the workforce. I know it is an extra two yeas but a PhD is not supposed to be a race - you are supposed to be gaining research skills.
I'm curious as to how these time limits are enforced outside the US.

In the US, the PhD program is somewhat open-ended. The AIP report from 2014 (https://www.aip.org/sites/default/files/statistics/graduate/trendsphds-p-12.2.pdf) shows that, for Physics PhDs graduating from US schools in 2010 and 2011, the length of graduate study, starting with a bachelor's degree, ranged from 4 yrs to 9+ yrs, with an average of 6.3 yrs.

So, e.g., if the student needs to fabricate samples or build an entirely new apparatus, then he will take substantially longer than someone who doesn't. It's also been my personal experience that some professors intentionally extend the duration of PhD programs since grad students are a relatively cheap supply of labor.

In the UK and Australia, what is the penalty for a professor if his students do not graduate on schedule?
 

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