Master's degree, en passant

Dec 08 2010 Published by under Poll, Postgraduate Training

Science Professor has a new post on the role of taking a Master's degree prior to entering and/or completing a Ph.D. There are a couple of reader questions so go over there and comment.

Here are my questions for you:

Do you write M.S. students into your grant proposals or do you only advise M.S. students supported by teaching assistantships?

Do you value M.S. students or consider the M.S. an option for “failed” Ph.D. students? (Or something in between those views)

Me, being a lazy blogger, I thought I'd poll my readers for the experience of their own doctoral training program. Feel free to answer if you are in a PhD program at present with your plans with respect to taking a Master's degree in passing.

Select up to two options.

10 responses so far

  • Barney Grubbs says:

    Cornell automatically gave you an MS when you passed the qualifying exam ("A exam")--I don't remember there being a choice to not get the MS (this was in the mid-90s)

  • Kim says:

    My grad program admitted students who applied for an MS, and MS and then a PhD, and then a PhD. I did a PhD straight from undergrad, but in my discipline, there are more job opportunities for people with an MS degree. I regret not doing one.

  • Bashir says:

    Masters was technically available to anyone who'd passed the thesis-like hurdle in the 2nd year. All you had to do was fill out some university forms. I don't know how many people did, maybe half. I did not. It made no difference in your standing within the department, all students were considered PhD students.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    In agreement and extension, Bashir, the kinds of PhD programs that I am familiar with do not recognize any value of a Master's in the course of the doctoral program. To me the purpose for the grad student boils down to a marker of accomplishment and a backup plan in case the doctorate doesn't happen

  • Nicole says:

    Many of our best students had Masters from specific masters granting institutions like the London School of Economics or from a top policy school. Our school didn't have a terminal masters, but many of my classmates had terminal masters from other places. They tended to graduate in less time with more publications.

  • nano says:

    ahhh, the terminal master's.

    regarded widely throughout my former grad program (that's students as well as faculty) as the "cut and run" degree... the "doctoral program failure" degree... the "couldn't hack it" degree... you get the picture. the student body, at least, seized the gossip and downtalking opportunity.

    yeah, i *really* miss those nice folks.

  • D. says:

    In my country (and I am aware of a few others) Master degree is required for entering PhD program.

  • Passed my general exams (written and oral) after the 2nd year, filled out some forms, and paid $20 and the Masters was mine enroute to my PhD. My Dept also handed them out as consolation prizes for the rubes who couldn't get through the first 2 years (which sort of made the whole thing worthless).

  • --bill says:

    My PhD university restricted the number of post-graduate degrees you could get to two. Many of my peers opted to get a PhD in math and a master's in CS or some sort of engineering (this was in the mid-90s).

  • TeaHag says:

    At my august and ancient university, all graduate students entering were placed on the Masters register, regardless of their ultimate ambitions. We then went through the equivalent of the comprehensive exam, in order to "transfer" to the Ph.D. register. I should point out though that the "exam" was more an evaluation of the research project (at that point ~18 months underway) to determine if the anticipated yield would meet the criteria for a Ph.D. thesis project. If the project and/or student sucked... they had the option to quit, or remain on the Masters register and write up the work that they had completed.

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