Master’s or Ph.D.: Which Is Right For You?

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Before deciding whether to pursue a master’s or doctorate degree, take some time to review the following items.


The type of degree you pursue will determine how much time you spend in graduate school. Most students studying full time can obtain a master’s degree in 2 years. Those pursuing PhDs usually spend 5-6 years in school, or in some cases, even longer.


Different programs also have varying costs. In most cases doctorate degrees are more expensive that master’s degrees. Students with more education usually earn more money after completing their respective programs.

Carefully consider how much you are willing to spend before committing to a program since the school you attend could determine how many years you will spend repaying student loans.

Commitment Level Required

Completing a graduate program is not an easy task. If you attend graduate school, regardless of what type of student you were during your undergraduate years, you will spend a good portion of your time studying. If you have additional responsibilities on top of your studies, graduate school can be very stressful. However, most students deciding to attend graduate school thoroughly enjoy the subjects they study, so the work spent completing a program can be enjoyable.

Pros and Cons

Now that you have some idea about what is required for a doctorate or master’s program, let’s review some of the pros and cons of pursing either type of degree.

  • In a lot of cases, people earn master’s degrees to receive a promotion at their current jobs. However, if you would like to specialize in a subject and eventually teach at a college level, it is probably best to earn a Ph.D.
  • Obtaining a master’s degree will take less time and cost less, but those with master’s degrees will not have the same opportunities as those with PhDs.
  • If you are not happy with your current career, consider earning a master’s degree. You will learn new skills and increase your employment opportunities.
  • If you decide to earn a Ph.D., you will set yourself apart in the competitive corporate world. Those who have earned a Ph.D. have proven to potential employers they have skills and qualities that will benefit their companies.
  • For those who are creative and love contributing original ideas to a particular field, earning a Ph.D. can be appealing since Ph.D. candidates conduct research.

Still Unsure What To Do?

If you want to develop expertise and enjoy research, a doctorate program is a good idea for you to pursue. If you want to increase your marketability in the job market, you should probably obtain a master’s degree.

If you are concerned about your debt load upon graduation, usually doctorate programs offer more financial assistance, but you must keep the following points in mind.

If you are undecided, it is advisable to apply for a Ph.D. program to provide yourself with more options if you have a change of heart. However, you must keep in mind that doctorate programs are very selective. Also, some schools will not automatically consider those rejected from a doctorate program for admission into a master’s program.