Master s vs ph d which one to choose how far to go
1 / 28

Master ’ s vs. Ph.D.: Which one to choose? How far to go? - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

  • Uploaded on

Master ’ s vs. Ph.D.: Which one to choose? How far to go?. Kathleen Fisher, Tufts University Linda Apsley , Microsoft. Revisiting Choices. Given that you are at the end of your first year in either a Ph.D. or MS program, the questions are:

I am the owner, or an agent authorized to act on behalf of the owner, of the copyrighted work described.
Download Presentation

PowerPoint Slideshow about ' Master ’ s vs. Ph.D.: Which one to choose? How far to go?' - neviah

An Image/Link below is provided (as is) to download presentation

Download Policy: Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use and may not be sold / licensed / shared on other websites without getting consent from its author.While downloading, if for some reason you are not able to download a presentation, the publisher may have deleted the file from their server.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - E N D - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Presentation Transcript
Master s vs ph d which one to choose how far to go

Master’s vs. Ph.D.:Which one to choose?How far to go?

Kathleen Fisher, Tufts University

Linda Apsley, Microsoft

Revisiting choices
Revisiting Choices

Given that you are at the end of your first year in either a Ph.D. or MS program, the questions are:

  • Am I in the “right” program for me, based on a better understanding of

    • What I want (what I love / what I dislike) in the graduate school experience?

    • What I want as a future career path?

  • If not, then how do I get onto the “right” track?

Linda s story
Linda’s Story

Grad school paths
Grad School Paths

Job industry / startup



MS course

MS thesis project



First year

Job lab /academia

coursework to dissertation

Experience of course based master s degree
Experience of Course-Based Master’s Degree

  • Your educational goal: to acquire more knowledge (breadth & some depth) in the field via coursework.

  • Specialize in CSE courses more than in undergrad program

    • Select courses to match your interests (and, do well in your courses)

  • Short time to get what you need:

    • Job-hunting soon after starting the program

    • Cultivate & extend professional network

      • Reference letters? Future PhD advisers?

Experience of research based master s degree
Experience of Research-Based Master’s Degree

  • Your educational goals:

    • To acquire depth and project skills via Master’s thesis under supervision of advisor

    • To get a taste of research (to decide about eventually pursuing PhD)

  • Research component is similar to Ph.D., but…

    • May be more “development” rather than innovative & deep independent research

    • May result in 0-1 published papers, rather than 3 or more

    • Choices (of adviser, project, etc.) have lower stakes: You’re committing to 1-2 years, rather than ~5.

Experience of ph d degree
Experience of Ph.D. Degree

I Research

  • Your educational goal:

    • To do original high-impact research

    • To learn the skills needed to be a contributing member of the research community

      • Technical, soft skills, and culture

  • Long process (4-6 years), multiple phases

    • Predictable challenges and stress points

Grad school paths1
Grad School Paths

Choose advisor

Qualifying exams

Thesis proposal

Submit papers

Write dissertation

Job hunt


MS course

MS thesis project


First year

Job lab /academia

coursework to dissertation

Write & defend thesis

Experience of the Ph.D.

Pick advisor, move from coursework to research

Reviewer comments

First submission

Advisor stress

Pick a Topic


Job interviewinvitations

CRA-W Grad Cohort Workshop 2005

Lessons from the roller coaster
Lessons from the Roller Coaster

  • The ride is similar for most people

    You are qualified for the ride. It’s scary for everyone.

    You aren’t alone. Share your experiences.

  • It takes externally applied energy for the uphills

    Your advisor will be a key person (later session on this).

    Seek support from many sources (technical, emotional)

  • There are a lot of downhill sections

    Frustration & doubt are guaranteed. Things can go wrong.

  • Momentum is important

    Keep moving forward. No side trips to distract.

Setting research goals
Setting Research Goals

  • You’re in the pilot seat

    • not yet sure of your destination

    • need a capable crew to help you fly

      • Network, mentors, friends.

  • PhD Research requires redefining success

    • Class performance is not as important as before

  • In research, nobody knows the answer!

    • And half the challenge is in asking good questions!

Career paths
Career Paths

Developmentjobs in industry;Create a startup;

Project manager

Research in industry or government labs;

Project leadershipin industry;

Create a startup;

University research/ teaching


MS course

MS thesis project


First year

coursework to dissertation

Career opportunities with master s degree
Career Opportunities withMaster’s Degree

Types of jobs you can do in industry with a Master’s

  • Operations

    • Consulting

    • Install and administer software

    • Technical support/troubleshooting

    • Web site management

  • Product or application development

    • Design, code and/or test new software

    • User interface design, human factors analysis and test

    • Write technical documentation

    • Program or product management, marketing

    • Project management

  • Research support (very similar to product development)

    • Contribute to prototyping new software ideas and to publications

Types of employers of master s degree holders
Types of Employers of Master’s Degree Holders

  • Information Technology (IT) companies

    • Software or hardware or services companies

    • Start-ups

    • Spectrum of established companies (small to big)

  • Companies in other industries

    • Banking, insurance, telecommunications, healthcare, environmental engineering, manufacturing, travel, …

    • EVERY industry needs software engineers today

  • Universities

    • Typically in support roles

Course vs research master s
Course vs. Research Master’s

Course Master’s

  • Breadth of knowledge may qualify you for marketing, project management, product management roles

    • But if that’s what you want, take some business classes!

  • Lack of major project may be a handicap for development roles

Research Master’s

  • Deep project may qualify you for more interesting development roles

  • Potentially channeled more into development

  • Much more attractive for a research lab position

    • Thesis will help with publications

Career ladders in industry
Career Ladders in Industry


  • Entry level: implement parts of products designed by others

  • Mid-level: lead design of product components

  • Senior: lead product design and implementation


  • 1st line: Direct single project/component to successful conclusion

  • Mid-level: oversee several related projects

  • Executive: oversee product and corporate strategy

Career opportunities with ph d degree
Career Opportunities with Ph.D. Degree

I Research &Teaching (?)

  • Research or advanceddevelopment in industrialresearch labs

  • Development leadership roles in industry

  • Technical project management / leadership

  • Academic research and teaching in a university as a professor

Industry career research and industry impact
Industry Career: Research and Industry Impact

  • Research

    • Engage in scientific discovery, collaborate with peers, fund research (but typically later in career, possibly internal funding)

    • May involve university faculty and students

    • Develop creative thinking around technical solutions to problems

  • Technology Transfer

    • Contribute to company’s products, client engagements, open source…

    • Demonstrate strong problem-solving skills

    • Publish work and engage with academia

  • Service

    • Departmental (hiring committee, e.g)

    • Company-wide (promotion review board)

    • Professional

Expected to do all three well!

What can i do now to prepare for a job in industry
What can I do now to prepare for a job in industry?

  • Complete a project(s)

    • Will make you a more interesting candidate

  • Get an internship(s)

    • Try out a corporate culture, job type, industry

    • Experience counts a lot!

  • Acquire key skills

    • Building your professional network, communication, negotiation, making yourself visible

  • Find a mentor(s)

    • Provides a useful perspective

Finding industry jobs
Finding Industry Jobs

  • Identify organizations of interest and do internships – real world and specific organization experience is valued

  • Know what positions are within your scope and focus on the right type of position for you

  • Plug into on-campus recruiting at your school

  • Apply through formal methods, but try to make contact with people who will get your resume into the right hands

  • Conferences, conferences, conferences – employers attend conferences specifically to find you

  • Network with friends, colleagues, and friends of friends to make contacts and get a foot in the door

  • Consider startup organizations – higher risk, but greater potential for increasing the scope of your responsibilities

  • Demonstrate good communication skills in addition to technical savvy

  • Ask for what you want!

Academic career research teaching and service
Academic Career:Research, Teaching and Service

  • Research

    • engage in scientific discovery, involve graduate and undergraduate students, fund research

  • Teaching

    • active teaching, mentoring, advising

  • Service

    • Departmental

    • University

    • Professional

Expected to do all three well!

Different types of colleges
Different Types of Colleges

  • Research universities: Ph.D. program - emphasize research– but teaching, service important

  • Colleges/universities: M.S. program- emphasize teaching – but research & service also important

  • Selective liberal arts colleges:B.S. program – emphasize teaching with research a close second, but service important

  • Teaching-oriented colleges: B.S. program – emphasize teaching & service but research can be expected

Academic career ladder
Academic Career Ladder

Professorial Ranks

  • Assistant

  • Associate

  • Full

  • Chaired Professor – endowed

    Administrative Ranks

    Department Chair, Dean, Provost, President

    Instructor – teaching & service

    Postdoctoral positions - research

What can i do now to prepare for an academic job
What can I do now to prepare for an academic job?

  • Research

    • Apprenticeship: learn from adviser, doing it, and others

    • How do ideas come?

    • How to organize research?

  • Teaching

    • Teaching experience, teach some even if don’t have to

  • Service

    • Organizing student organizations/support groups – Women in CS

    • Working on department committees

    • Volunteering at conferences

Moving between research lab and academia
Moving Between Research Lab and Academia

From University to Industry

  • Must build real systems

  • Establish visibility and knowledge in industry

From Industry to University

  • Must continue publishing

  • Establish visibility in research community

Thank you questions

Thank you!Questions?