dcsimg

Masters vs Phd Degree

Masters vs. PhD, Which is Best?

A decision on graduate education should be based on your degree of patience as well as your goals. It's important to understand that while the average master's degree program takes two years beyond completion of a baccalaureate, a PhD usually takes five years and for many students can take more than that.

Research Requirements

A master's program is principally study and exams, although most have a "capstone project" or some major undertaking such as a thesis in order to complete the program, generally produced in the last semester. Most PhD programs are designed to produce academic scholars; completing a doctorate requires a major dissertation based on original research that contributes, in some fashion, to the body on knowledge for your academic discipline.

A doctoral program will devote two years or so to the core courses required and then leave the student to develop the research program for the dissertation, prepare it, present it and defend it. Three years can be devoted to the design and development of a dissertation, which is done in consultation with one or more faculty members. PhD programs tend to be much smaller that master's degree programs; while the workload is tremendous and the pressure substantial, support from the faculty is much more readily available.

Cost Considerations

Certainly it costs much more to complete a doctoral program than a master's degree, but estimating comparative costs isn't as simple as adding years. Many universities make substantial financial support available to PhD candidates, because universities believe the prominence of a particular academic program - psychology, for example - is based on the number of scholars and researchers produced at the doctoral level. Turning out successful college professors and researchers is the goal of most doctoral programs; they are important components in the academic recognition and ranking process, and so universities invest in students that are accepted.

When you're evaluating the cost of a PhD versus a Master's Degree, it may be more important to calculate wages lost to academic years than the cost of the education, because in many cases the school pays tuition and living costs for its PhD candidates, who have teaching and job opportunities generated within the department as well.

Salary Comparisons

It's difficult to evaluate the value of a PhD versus a Master's on the job market because in so many instances, a successful PhD graduate is headed for an academic post that generally will not pay a salary commensurate with opportunities in the commercial world. It's also important to understand that tenure is an important part of any professor's career, and that the trade-off for the security of tenure is a very slow rate of salary increase over the course of that career. Universities pay competitive entry level salaries for talented PhD graduates, so the incongruity often develops where a new associate professor may be making more than a tenured professor with years of career time invested in a university.

But that's the academic track. Here is a general review of salaries in some of the larger professional categories based on degree. These are not as specific as they might be; the world of financial services is a wild and wooly compensation environment and the medical fields have multiple levels of specialization. But there is a value to the doctorate, both in terms of prestige and for potential compensation. All salary figures are drawn from Payscale.com, Glassdoor.com and the U.S. Department of Labor

Biotech Research

Master's in Molecular Biotechnology: $62,000 - 91,000

PhD - R&D, Pharmaceuticals: $130,000 - $159,000

Nursing

MSN in Nurse Practitioner or Clinical Nurse Specialist: $65,000 - $88,000

MSN - Nurse Anesthetist: $115,000 - $152,000

PhD in Nursing (Academic) $80,000 - $100,000, total compensation, nine month yearly schedule

Senior Financial Analyst

MBA: $63,000 - $87,000

PhD: $86,000 - $153,000

Chartered Financial Analyst

MBA: (Securities & Investments) $53,000 - $89,000

PhD (Portfolio Manager) $77,000 - $144,000

Psychologist

MA/School Psychologist: $48,000 - $66,000

MA/Human Resources: $49,000 - $89,000

PhD Clinical Psychologist: Mean wage $109,000

Electrical Engineer

MS in Electrical Engineering $63,000 - $94,000

PhD in Electrical Engineering (Academic) Mean wage, nine months work $115,000

Software Engineer

MS: $56,000 - 74,000

PhD Senior Software Developer: $77,000 - $102,000

Project Management

Master of Science: $80,000 - $99,000

PhD: $120,000 - $160,000

Management Analyst/Consultant

MBA: $74,000 - $134,000

PhD: $102,000 - $180,000

Quantitative Analyst

MBA: $74,000 - $114,000

PhD: $105,000 - $186,000

Schools
Refine School Matches
Hide filters
  • SUBJECT Clear All

    See More

  • DEGREE

    See More

  • PROGRAM TYPE

  • START TIME

    LOCATION
    Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.
            Results open in new window

            Showing schools in your area

            Matching School Ads
            • Liberty University provides a worldclass education from a christ-centered worldview
            • 100% online programs at associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels
            • No standardized testing if student meets admission requirements
            • Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
            • 95% of Liberty University students receive some form of financial aid
            Show more [+]
            • Accredited
            • Online Courses
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            • Associate’s, Bachelor’s, and Master’s degrees available in a wide range of fields.
            • Flexible online programs offered in Psychology, Criminal Justice, Education, and more.
            • Assigned Financial Services Advisors to help answer student financial questions.
            • Servicemembers and their spouses can apply for the Ashford Military Grant to reduce tuition for all undergraduate courses.
            • Accredited
            • Online Courses
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits

            The new online Master of Science in Data Science (MSDS) from the University of Virginia Data Science Institute (DSI) expands the accessibility of our cutting-edge curriculum beyond Charlottesville. The application of data science across nearly every industry is one of the most important undertakings of the 21st century. We are thrilled to welcome a new group of diverse students from across the region, country, and globe.

            • Online Courses
            • The Master of Science in Global Energy Management (GEM) is a business and leadership degree, offered in a hybrid online format so you can work while you study.
            • This 18-month, 36-credit "energy MBA" develops the business acumen of an MBA and a global industry perspective that spans all energy sectors. The curriculum is taught by expert practitioners and continuously vetted by industry partners.
            • Make strategic business decisions that maximize ROI and serve stakeholder and community interests. Perform comprehensive analyses to assess and manage opportunities, risks, operations and investments
            • Most graduates (55%) report an increase in salary by graduation, with 15% receiving an increase of 20% or more.
            • Our graduates often ascend to leadership in their current area, gain the skills to transition to a new role or sector, or even start their own companies.
            Show more [+]
            • Online Courses
            • Students are drawn to the online Master of Social Work because of the versatility of the degree. The online MSW @ UK sets you up to be successful in your chosen area of the profession. 
            • Candidates pursue their passion in areas from clinical practice with adolescents to non-profit development in rural communities, or something in between.
            Show more [+]
            • Online Courses
            • Recognized as the largest university in the Chicago area, with 27,580 students and 15 colleges.
            • Listed as one of the top 200 research-funded institutions in the world, with more than $291 million research funds in FY 2013.
            • Proud to be a tobacco-free campus, prohibiting all forms of tobacco within campus boundaries.
            • Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).
            Show more [+]
            • Accredited
            • Online Courses
            • Accelerated Programs
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            • RC believes that true learning takes place in a setting that values the individual
            • NEASC accredited with a catholic-centered education & Weston, MA campus
            • 44% of the Class of 2016 secured full-time professional employment at graduation
            • Over 90 percent of undergraduates receive some form of financial assistance
            • 40 percent of degree-seeking undergrads are first-generation college students
            Show more [+]
            • Online Courses
            Since 1977, Keiser University has maintained a practical, hands-on approach to career-focused education to help our students achieve their personal and professional goals.  Our student-centered approach remains at the foundation of the Keiser University mission and continues to attract students who prefer a more personal learning experience. 
             
            At Keiser University, you will find a warm, friendly community with faculty and staff truly committed to your success.  Our small class sizes, individualized attention, and one-class-at-a-time schedules create a positive learning environment where you can excel.  Whether your goal is to prepare for a new career or to advance with your current employer, Keiser University is designed around your needs. 
             
            Keiser University Advantage
            • Associate, Bachelor's, Master's and Doctoral degree programs
            • Day, Evening, and Online Classes
            • Financial Aid to Those Who Qualify
            • Job Placement Assistance Available
            • Military-friendly, scholarships for qualified active duty personnel, Veterans, and dependants.  Yellow Ribbon program participant, approved for Veterans training
             
            Programs and delivery format vary by campus. Courses are subject to change.
             
            Keiser University's programs and curriculum remain in-line with technology and workforce trends, helping you develop the skills and qualifications necessary to succeed in today's job market.  Our career-focused programs make it possible for you to graduate in less time than you may think. 
             
            Keiser University is a private, not-for-profit university.
            Show more [+]
            • Online Courses

            Pepperdine University offers a values-based education that embraces the ideals of cultures worldwide through its online Master of Arts in Psychology program. Led by dedicated faculty who are active practitioners with diverse clinical experience, the online master’s in psychology curriculum allows students to develop the skills needed to assess personality and intelligence and understand mental and emotional disorders. 

            • Online Courses
            Good for Working Adults
            • Offers MUSE (My Unique Student Experience), a content delivery system that gives students the option to watch, view, read or listen to required course materials.
            • Allows students to complete courses at whatever pace they want.
            • Provides IntelliPath, a proprietary learning technology that lets students learn at their own pace.
            • A DANTES-affiliated university and member of the Service Members Opportunity Colleges.
            Show more [+]
            • Accredited
            • Online Courses
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits