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PhD in Robotics/Electronics Engineering?

  1. Feb 23, 2014 #1
    I am currently only a freshman in general engineering, but I plan on transferring to NC State University for computer engineering. I know it is early, but I figured it couldn't hurt to ask. What opportunities can a PhD present that a MS cannot?

    Also, I looked at some of the masters programs at NC State, and the ones that interest me are computational intelligence, robotics and mechatronics, and digital systems. What are your thoughts on the future of these fields?

    Any input is appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 24, 2014 #2


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    Science Advisor

    In integrated electronics a Ph.D. can help you get into more advanced development. You don't *need* it, but the fact is getting a Ph.D. is kind of like an apprenticeship. In industry the hard part is getting your foot in the door. Often a new BS or MS grad will be shunted towards applications or product engineer unless they have design experience. With a Ph.D. you typically are starting out with a chip under your belt already.

    It's quite possible you can get the same opportunity with an MS.

    Once you're in industry no one cares. In my experience the capabilities of MS and Ph.D. engineers are only very weakly correlated, if at all. Get the Ph.D. if electronics fires you up and you want a chance to really do something unusual. When you get on the job you'll most likely be pounding out the same circuits as other people (but it will still be fun!).
  4. Feb 25, 2014 #3
    What about R&D? Does it matter PhD vs. MS?
  5. Feb 27, 2014 #4
    Nice pun.
  6. Feb 27, 2014 #5
    The value of a graduate degree can matter a lot or very little, depending on the field.

    Those fields you listed are all perfectly good places to get a Master's in.

    A Master's can certainly open doors for you and potentially command a higher salary. It signifies a more specialized education, and that can make a difference. It also opens up more research-oriented positions.

    For engineers, a PhD will just mean you'll be able to be a professor. To my knowledge it does not command a better salary or position in industry. But if academia is your goal, that's what you'll need. Otherwise, don't spend the time on it. It can even be a bad thing if you're looking for work in industry because of the time you spent out of industry to earn it.
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