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  1. #1
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    Default MA -vs - PhD degree

    I'm currently in my final year of doing a History degree and a 2:1 is looking very likely, so I am now considering my postgraduate options. One option would be to do a 1 year long Masters degree in History at the cost of about €6,000. The other option would be to do a 3 year long PhD at the cost of about €13,000. I'm stuck in a rut here, because while the PhD option is very tempting despite the cost (which wouldn't actually put me off doing it), I started college late as I applied as a mature student and am now 27. I may also need to take a year out anyway after undergraduate graduation to work for a year in order to raise money. So basically I wouldn't be starting either degree until I am 28 years of age.

    So I'm wondering if I should just fire ahead and do the PhD? Or at my age - would it be better to simply get the Masters and get on with things, notably getting into the workforce sooner? Also, by doing the PhD, I'd be losing out on not only 2 years of wages, but I'd also be earning less the year that I'd graduate as opposed to starting work straight after the Masters degree. However, all of this is not so clear cut as I'm still tempted to go ahead and do the PhD.

    What would you do in this situation, and which option would you take?

  2. #2
    Senior Member chrisdav's Avatar
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    I am currently an undergraduate in mathematics aged 27 Dav7 like yourself due to being involved with professional football/soccer at a young age.

    I think it entirely depends on what profession your want to follow.

  3. #3
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    That's a tough one. I'd say if you're supported financially or are already financially stable, go for the higher up level of education. In the long run, it's always better to have a higher level of education just to say you have that level of education.

    At the same time, a masters is still a very competitive title to have under your belt out there. I'm sure most people these days opt for just a bachelors and are happy as is.

    It depends on the kind of job you are looking to get. Let's say a job is required a MA minimum and you have a phD, I'm thinking your resume will get pooled into with the rest of the MA's despite you education level. Sometimes you will even be overqualified because company's don't want to pay you more for your education level. It is tragic, yes. Regardless, I've seen this happen when I was working in one of the engineering offices as a student one summer.

    I'm in engineering and I'm just gonna stick with my bachelor's for now when I'm done and build up my financial situation, probably stay with my parents a bit and save everything and get a house right off the bat and a car. The only down side is I can't bring girls home because my parents are super against that and I find it disrespectful to them anyways but hey, free rent and food. I'm sure most kids take this route and then maybe later on in life, continue to up their education when they can't find a job or whatnot. Or maybe they just get sick of being in school and never wanna return... Cause I sure as hell never wanna go back to doing homework all day again.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Proper View Post
    That's a tough one. I'd say if you're supported financially or are already financially stable, go for the higher up level of education. In the long run, it's always better to have a higher level of education just to say you have that level of education.

    At the same time, a masters is still a very competitive title to have under your belt out there. I'm sure most people these days opt for just a bachelors and are happy as is.

    It depends on the kind of job you are looking to get. Let's say a job is required a MA minimum and you have a phD, I'm thinking your resume will get pooled into with the rest of the MA's despite you education level. Sometimes you will even be overqualified because company's don't want to pay you more for your education level. It is tragic, yes. Regardless, I've seen this happen when I was working in one of the engineering offices as a student one summer.

    I'm in engineering and I'm just gonna stick with my bachelor's for now when I'm done and build up my financial situation, probably stay with my parents a bit and save everything and get a house right off the bat and a car. The only down side is I can't bring girls home because my parents are super against that and I find it disrespectful to them anyways but hey, free rent and food. I'm sure most kids take this route and then maybe later on in life, continue to up their education when they can't find a job or whatnot. Or maybe they just get sick of being in school and never wanna return... Cause I sure as hell never wanna go back to doing homework all day again.
    Thanks for the advice, although with an Engineering job - a bachelor's is good enough to get you in the door for a job, there isn't much you can do with a bachelor's degree, or sometimes even a masters degree in the Humanities unfortunately. A PhD opens up jobs in the field though.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dav7 View Post
    Thanks for the advice, although with an Engineering job - a bachelor's is good enough to get you in the door for a job, there isn't much you can do with a bachelor's degree, or sometimes even a masters degree in the Humanities unfortunately. A PhD opens up jobs in the field though.
    If that is the case, I would personally go for the phD. What have you got to lose? Were you planning to save up for a car or a house or something big that you want sooner than later? If yes, then maybe the MA would be the better choice as you can attain these goals sooner. You still have a lot of time and if you want to stick it out for the phD, maybe that job you find in the future would exponenitally add up to what you think you might lose during the years at uni. I have a couple of buddies who started work right after high school and they have new cars and saving up for a place to mortgage right now. Whereas I went to uni, lost 4+ years of salary (switched programs) and top it off with 30-40k debt from OSAP. Im hoping my job will payoff but theres too many engineers graduating these days that a bachelors might not even be enough. Plus an eng starting in canada is like 40k, not worth the amount of work that had to be put into it... ITS BULLSHIT!!!!! And it also sucks that I never got to have the money to enjoy while Im young; some of my interests may fade or I might get too old for some stuff (never too old for a sniper license though).

    Back to the point, ask yourself what you are striving for. It'll be a tough decision but it'll also suck if you go for your MA, finish it, and realize you're still thirsting for that phD. Hope you all the best!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Proper View Post
    If that is the case, I would personally go for the phD. What have you got to lose? Were you planning to save up for a car or a house or something big that you want sooner than later? If yes, then maybe the MA would be the better choice as you can attain these goals sooner. You still have a lot of time and if you want to stick it out for the phD, maybe that job you find in the future would exponenitally add up to what you think you might lose during the years at uni. I have a couple of buddies who started work right after high school and they have new cars and saving up for a place to mortgage right now. Whereas I went to uni, lost 4+ years of salary (switched programs) and top it off with 30-40k debt from OSAP. Im hoping my job will payoff but theres too many engineers graduating these days that a bachelors might not even be enough. Plus an eng starting in canada is like 40k, not worth the amount of work that had to be put into it... ITS BULLSHIT!!!!! And it also sucks that I never got to have the money to enjoy while Im young; some of my interests may fade or I might get too old for some stuff (never too old for a sniper license though).

    Back to the point, ask yourself what you are striving for. It'll be a tough decision but it'll also suck if you go for your MA, finish it, and realize you're still thirsting for that phD. Hope you all the best!
    Thanks for the advice, some good tips here. By the way, it is indeed possible to get a good, well paying job in Engineering with a bachelor's degree. My Uncle did a bachelor's in Electronic Engineering in uni and got a good job within weeks of graduation.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by chrisdav View Post
    I think it entirely depends on what profession your want to follow.
    This.

    I went the path of non-stop schooling and will be graduating with my MS in just under 2 months (wow, feels weird to say that) at the age of 25. I actually got one offer to get my phD at a school on the East coast, which prompted me to consider a phD for the first time. Before, I was certain I wanted to be done with school after my Master's to 1.) start making money, 2.) enjoy life a bit -- I'm really burnt out on the school thing.

    Anyways, after balancing the options, a phD would almost certainly land me a career in academia as a post-doctorate fellow and/or assistant professor, at least early on. Working on my Master's Thesis has made me realize how little I want to stay on campus. The prestige of having a phD would be nice, but I'm content with a Master's. With my Master's, I'll retain the position I currently hold as a Data Analyst in the private sector. This is more lucrative (at least early on) than academia and I have more control of my work hours.

    My questions for you are: what's the difference in pay and position you will be applicable for if you have a Master's, versus a phD? Are you still enjoying learning?

    For me, the private sector is more lucrative. I want to be a Senior analyst before 30, department head by 35, and a consultant by 40. Sort of a wishful thinking, but that's the type of timeline you have to draw out.

    Interesting post. Nice to take a break from the hair talk.

    Best regards.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Proper View Post
    lost 4+ years of salary (switched programs) and top it off with 30-40k debt from OSAP.
    Lmao! I'm right behind ya man! Engineerin' too :P
    I dread the day where I have to start paying off my OSAP

  9. #9
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    I've done a BA in a Humanities and I've wound up working in the Public Sector (UK based here). I would like to at some point go back to Uni and complete an MA, just the issue of cost kept me out of it. I think for us Humanities students a PhD would be an excellent course to go down, academia or not. I guess if you could afford it and finance it, go for the PhD, but an MA is always worthwhile.

    It really comes down to your choice of career path.

  10. #10
    Senior Member baldozer's Avatar
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    Why would you pay for a Phd? The university I did my Phd from, paid me salary for it. I did it in
    Computer Science by the way.

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