What is more preferred: 2 masters or a PhD

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by dukebound85, Nov 8, 2010.

  1. dukebound85 macrumors P6


    Jul 17, 2005
    5045 feet above sea level
    As the title says. I am working on a masters and would like to get another in mech engr as well. However, I am also debating working for a PhD in atmos science. Both options would take about the same time to complete all said and done.

    Now, the reason I would like 2 masters is better marketability for industry and it would give me a breadth of knowledge over two fields that I would like to combine in my career vs learning in great depth in one field.

    Keep in mind I have my BS in mech engr so I could do that (combining disciplines) with either route.

    Have any of you faced this situation? If so, what did you do? Any thoughts are welcome
  2. GoCubsGo, Nov 8, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2010

    GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
  3. puma1552 macrumors 601

    Nov 20, 2008
    2 masters degrees makes you look unfocused and less passionate about one subject, and more concerned with your pedigree of collecting degrees.

    Another thing to consider is the PhD would be free + stipend, but you'd likely have to pay for the masters.

    If you want to get a masters in something else, just take some prereqs and write a hell of a convincing essay to get into a PhD program for that field.
  4. GimmeSlack12 macrumors 603


    Apr 29, 2005
    San Francisco
    Having 2 masters would make you a more utility choice for employment but in the end you have to realize that you will end up focusing on only one topic and thus have had wasted time acquiring one of the MS degrees.

    Get the PhD or just go get a job. Being smarter does not mean you get more money.
  5. obeygiant macrumors 68040


    Jan 14, 2002
    totally cool
    Correct me if I'm wrong here but a Masters is an acknowledgment that you have a deep understanding of a single subject. But to earn PhD you must add new knowledge to the field that you're studying. I'd think a PhD is more impressive than 2 masters degrees.
  6. Apple OC macrumors 68040

    Apple OC

    Oct 14, 2010
    go for the PhD ... you may have second thoughts going the other route
  7. dukebound85, Nov 8, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2010

    dukebound85 thread starter macrumors P6


    Jul 17, 2005
    5045 feet above sea level
    I don't know about unfocused as I really enjoy both fields. But you make an interesting point. Perhaps instead of a second masters, just go straight into a Phd program in the other field

    I disagree about one topic. I would like to deal with emissions and that has substantial overlap in both atmospheric science and engineering. At least that is my thinking lol. My issue with a Phd potentially is that it may pigeon hole one into a specific industry. I would like to be as diverse as possible so I can more of a safety net career-wise yet still be able to pursue my interests.

    Regarding money, as long as I can have a modest home, food and a reliable form of transportation, that is all I desire. I am not aiming to be wealthy by getting multiple degrees but rather be as attractive to as many potential companies in these two fields that I can be

    That is my understanding as well and I do agree about the Phd being more impressive but I am just trying to look at it from a career point of view and what option may be the most "safe" in the long run
  8. eawmp1 macrumors 601


    Feb 19, 2008
    It seems that in the current job market, having the option of breadth of training trumps depth. The more one pigeonholes him/herself, the more vulnerable one becomes to shifts in technology/employment realities. There are a lot of specialized engineers and technicians on the space coast of Florida who have worked on the space shuttle program who are having a hard time finding employment.
  9. alust2013 macrumors 601


    Feb 6, 2010
    On the fence
    I have to say, I think perhaps just one Masters might even be the best solution here. Unless you are teaching or doing research, a PhD is typically looked at as overqualified, especially in science fields. Two Masters may not be ideal as some potential employers may see that as unfocused, whether that is actually the case or not. Perhaps contacting someone in the field that you want to enter and asking what they are looking for would be the best way to determine exactly what the best choice is.
  10. adroit macrumors 6502


    Sep 28, 2005
    Victoria, BC

    You might find that work experience will benefit you more than additional degrees. In some cases having too many degrees can actually hurt you.

    I think it's worth doing some research on the type of jobs that you are interested in and see what it requires.
  11. jav6454 macrumors P6


    Nov 14, 2007
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    Having a PhD is better, means you know what you want. Also, it goes to show that you know very well what you know.
  12. FrankieTDouglas macrumors 65816

    Mar 10, 2005
    PhD will probably provide the highest promotion track. A terminal degree in whatever it is you do is the highest sign of achievement. Multiple masters is sort of the new "multiple bachelors" situation. Once you achieve a certain level of degree, it doesn't make much sense to keep working laterally. Go further up.
  13. MagnumOP macrumors regular

    Jul 5, 2010
    Speaking as one with a master's degree and currently working on a phd...

    The purpose of these degrees is usually very different. Master's programs are usually constructed to prepare you for jobs in the industry of your discipline. Whereas, phd programs are designed to make you a researcher/academic. Most industries do not value you more if you have a phd (some value you less).

    I would suggest speaking with the department chair or some other resource on campus(career center maybe) to help you decide. There is no prestige in getting a degree that does not prepare you for what you want to do.
  14. MagnumOP macrumors regular

    Jul 5, 2010
    and I do agree with the sentiment that work experience will in some instances trump education.

    Even more importantly, if you have work experience before going into a master's program you will be exponentially better off than having no experience whatsoever. In fact, most top notch programs require some work experience prior to admission to the program.

    On the other hand, given that the world economy is so bad, you may be better off continuing in school rather than hunting for a job for months with no avail.

    The moral of the story is consult an academic advisor of some sort.
  15. -aggie- macrumors P6


    Jun 19, 2009
    Where bunnies are welcome.
    Where I work, a MS is treated like a BS. also, management always looks to the PhD for direction, even though the MS knows just as much.
  16. Mord macrumors G4


    Aug 24, 2003
    I'd go for the PhD and in fact will be once I graduate :)
  17. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    No it won't, and two Masters' degrees is not a "collection." The counterargument would go something like "2 Masters' degrees makes you look like you have a diverse skill set that could potentially translate into some cost savings to a company."

    Depends on the job requirements.

    OP: You need to decide what you are actually looking to do. Not once have you stated anything more specific than:

    What does this even mean? Saying things like "better marketability in industry" is nonsensical. What industry are you talking about? What kind of position are you looking to obtain? Most importantly, what do you want to do with your life? Entering a PhD program is not a decision to be taken lightly, as it dominates your life for 5-6 years to the point where it's almost not even worth doing something outside your field afterwards. In addition, most PhD programs in the US worth any grain of salt will either ignore your Masters' degree if its in an unrelated field and make you re-do coursework.

    Nothing outside of a tenure-track position at an educational institution is really "safe" in the long run, and those spots are incredibly rare and difficult to obtain. Two Masters' degrees are no more of a safety net than a PhD.

    Conclusion: You are not providing enough information for anyone to give you advice on "what you should do."
  18. puma1552 macrumors 601

    Nov 20, 2008
    You don't know that without any certainty; you are not every employer in the world. It looks awfully unfocused to me; here's a guy with a masters degree, and then decided to go get another one in a different field. The questions I ask, and that many potential employers may ask, would be "What for? Why? At the very least, why hasn't this guy woven his first masters degree into a more in depth PhD in another field, using the masters as a foundation for the PhD and really built on and expanded his knowledge? Why did this guy just move sideways?"

    and then I would start wondering if the guy had issues staying committed to something or if he would be someone likely to jump ship for something else after investing 1+ year training him. It's one thing to climb higher up in a different field (people do this all the time) and build on your experiences (you'll need to be damn convincing when going for a PhD in an unrelated field that you have very legitimate reasons for switching, or more importantly they want to see how you plan to build on your past education), but it's another thing to trade one thing for the exact lateral sidestep of another, not really building anything. Looks a little sketchy.

    I've seen many, many jobs saying they want this degree OR that degree (for example an engineering degree of any type) but yet to this day have not seen one saying this degree AND this one. Keep that in mind OP--even though you may have a small preference with two masters degrees if the employer doesn't view it as above, it doesn't go that far when they are only asking for one degree and will take the best candidate regardless of 1 or 4 masters degrees.

    In any regards, don't get a PhD just to be more marketable, as that's not the purpose of a PhD.
  19. steve2112 macrumors 68040


    Feb 20, 2009
    East of Lyra, Northwest of Pegasus
    You are right about the PhD possibly pigeon holing you. Unless you want to do research and/or teaching, a master's may be better suited. PhDs often get stuck in a lab somewhere doing nothing but research. A PhD could also possibly get you the dreaded "overqualified" tag on some jobs.

    I like the way you are thinking on what you want to do. Maybe you could check with your advisors and see if you can tailor your master's toward that. You may have some options where you could take some environmental science type classes, and possibly focus your thesis (if you do one) in that area.
  20. Tomorrow macrumors 604


    Mar 2, 2008
    Always a day away
    It depends on what you're studying.

    A doctorate in something like engineering or business probably isn't really any more valuable than a Master's degree, unless you want to be a professor.

    A doctorate in something like math, physics, etc. could be VERY valuable.
  21. Tomorrow macrumors 604


    Mar 2, 2008
    Always a day away
    Oh, how short-sighted of you.

    I have two Master's degrees, and I got them at the same time - there wasn't any changing my mind, no "moving sideways." My undergraduate degree is in mechanical engineering; I also have an MBA and an MS in information systems. Today I manage projects in data center design.

    My educational background looks stellar to someone who wants to employ someone to do what I do.

    Perhaps the person lacking focus is the one who can't see the value in a diverse education?
  22. leekohler macrumors G5


    Dec 22, 2004
    Chicago, Illinois
    I say stick with the Masters. Everyone I know with PhDs are basically constrained by them- pigeonholed as you say. I think there's something painfully ironic about people who work that hard and then can't even decide where they want to live, because they have to go where the work is for their particular PhD.
  23. stonyc macrumors 65816


    Feb 15, 2005
    I guess I'm of the opposite viewpoint... I see the PhD as having more "options" than the Master's. The Master's basically means you work in industry.

    Whereas the PhD in my field would allow me to work in industry (as a project leader, instead of a project member) AND teach (especially if viewed as a fallback option). PhD also allows a higher ceiling for promotion.

    And at least in my field, all of the work for my particular PhD are in places that I actually want to live (San Diego, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Boston). :)
  24. SlovakApple macrumors 6502

    Jul 4, 2010
    In the heart of Europe
  25. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

    Oct 9, 2006
    I would not call an MBA a true 2nd masters degree. I call it a kick ass supplemental degree. A MBA to me is a multiplying factor on your another skill sets and really needs the other skill sets to be worth much. Now that factor is good size but 0*X is always 0. MBA is the X number.

    But like you said 2 masters can work out great. Big time if the complement each other. I personally am working on a 2nd bachelors degree because I look into getting a Masters in CS but the levelling work I would need would put me with in 6 hours of getting another bachelors so I am going to take the bachelors and hope to have a company pay for the masters.
    I may get 2 masters degrees in my life from CS and CompE. Now they complements each other really well so their is nothing wrong with it. Now would it really earn me more money. No not really but it does give me a huge edge in my future career having both and allows me to have a much wider net on what I can do.

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