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Programs Should I accept this PhD position? I already have my MS. What is it like? (A. Math)

  1. Apr 15, 2012 #1
    Backstory (feel free to skip): Last year, I applied to a bunch of PhD programs in applied math. I got accepted into a couple, but Northwestern offered me an interesting option. They rejected me from the PhD program, but they said that they would accept me into a masters program (which I'd have to pay for), but depending on my performance, they might upgrade me at the end of the year to a PhD position. Since their MS and PhD programs are the same in the first year, as long as I passed the preliminary exams, I'd be considered a second year PhD student the following year. To get the upgrade, they said I'd have to beat a lot of PhD students, since the faculty were biased towards them. I managed to succeed - they cut 1/2 the PhD students, but I managed to make the cut. Now I'm not sure if I want to.

    Everyone in the program says that the first year is the hardest. We have four classes per quarter plus those prelim exams. This year has been extremely difficult, though this quarter hasn't been quite as bad. Starting in the second year, we take fewer classes, though we have to TA (which is actually something I'm excited about). I guess I'm nervous about research - is the time commitment more than what I'm doing now? Is there time I can take off? Am I expected to be in during school breaks? What are your experiences with this?

    At the end of this year, I will have an MS degree. I'm not sure if going on to a PhD is even something I should do. I don't plan on going into academia (at least not immediately - at some point later on, I may want to teach, though it may even be at the high school level, but that'd be after a career). I'd want to do something in industry - consulting, something in finance, etc. I don't have prior work experience and haven't really networked, so I was thinking that getting a PhD would help in those areas. Plus it's not as though there are a ton of jobs out there.

    I think part of the problem too is that I'm just feeling so burnt out.

    So I guess my questions are: In my position, would it be worth it to get a PhD? Would it improve my future salary/job opportunities? How does the time commitment compare to what I've already experienced taking a bunch of graduate courses?

    Thank you so much!
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 15, 2012 #2
    Re: Should I accept this PhD position? I already have my MS. What is it like? (A. M

    I've seen these types of questions on forums like www.quantnet.com. The usual response from the people there is "You got a degree math. Why do you want to do finance?", which also happen to be the same question most employers would ask you.
  4. Apr 15, 2012 #3
    Re: Should I accept this PhD position? I already have my MS. What is it like? (A. M

    The honest, but stupid, answer is that it never occurred to me. Same with engineering. I declared as a math major early on in college due to pressure from a math professor, and declared physics as a second major shortly thereafter. The thought of switching to engineering/finance just never even occurred to me
  5. Apr 16, 2012 #4


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    Re: Should I accept this PhD position? I already have my MS. What is it like? (A. M

    One piece of advice I would have for you is whatever you want to do next, try and get some kind of unbiased clear perspective of what is involved so that you are better prepared emotionally and otherwise as opposed to just intellectually or academically.

    If you can put up with the crap that you hate and still like it enough to put up with the perks, then that should be a good sign.

    This is of course not a gaurantee that you will get the job but if you have thought about this in depth beforehand it will definitely help both you and the interviewer in the long run if something works out.
  6. Apr 21, 2012 #5
    Re: Should I accept this PhD position? I already have my MS. What is it like? (A. M

    That is a good idea. I don't really have anything to go to if I left grad school. I'm just feeling so burnt out. It really sapped a lot of my love for the subject. I talked to a career counselor at my school today, who advised me to take it since there would be more job recruiters in the fall. That way, if I wanted to, I could be getting paid while doing some more school and searching for a job
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