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MS or PhD in Materials Science and Engineering

  1. Feb 9, 2015 #1

    I am currently a chemistry student and will be graduating this Spring. I have applied to a couple of schools and have been accepted to one school so far for a PhD in Materials Science and Engineering. I am worried that a PhD is overkill. Long term I want to work in industry. I would like to lead a research group. I am thinking of focusing on materials for energy applications such as batteries and solar arrays.
    I have some research experience with doing computational modeling and work experience as an analytic chemist (mostly HPLC work).
    Is a Master's Degree sufficient for my goals or would a PhD be more beneficial.

    Thank you

    P.S. It is possible to obtain a Master's Degree along the way to a PhD, but it is frowned upon because professors don't want to pay for your education and then get less research out of their investment.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 9, 2015 #2

    Quantum Defect

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    I think that if you want to lead a research group, a PhD probably gives you more avenues for entry (academia, government, or industry). With a MS, I think you would be facing a longer road to managing a group.

    Many places award an MS as part of the path to the PhD. At my graduate program (Chemistry) people who left were able to get a Masters if they had passed some hurdles, but the MS was not typically granted.

    In some schools, the graduate students are supported primarily by the Department in the first two years (i.e. if you are a Teaching Assistant), in which case, there is less of a stigma if you decide that the PhD is not something for you.

    Best case: You only enter the PhD program if you are reasonably sure that you want to have the kind of in depth research experience that this provides.
  4. Feb 10, 2015 #3
    PhD is needed for research, in academics or in industry. Well, more important are publications or patents. Even for a position on a research team in industry, where patents or publications are being generated, a PhD is probably mandatory.
    I do hear sometimes that private industry pure research jobs are like golddust.

    MSc is what you want for the usual jobs in industry. It would be very hard to get a pure research job with just that. Doesn't mean you will be paid less, though.
    A BSc is what you need to be an analyst, MSc gives you better odds at getting a management job, in lab or somewhere else in the chemistry industry.

    Once you leave university for an entry job in industry with an MSc, you kinda close the door on being a PhD student and to pure research in academics or industry.

    But we are talking about real research here, not some validation of new methods or setting up protocols or improving current methods. There can be a lot of that in business and that might even warrant a parent in some cases.
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