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PLEASE give me an answer - Do most PhD students get a tuition waiver/stipend?

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Replies to: PLEASE give me an answer - Do most PhD students get a tuition waiver/stipend?

  • Sam LeeSam Lee Registered User Posts: 9,449 Senior Member
    Stipend doesn't necessarily cover all of your expenses. It depends on the school, research, and the cost of living of where the school is located. You may have to cover some on your own. So even when it comes to PhD programs with stipends, you are still better off with less worries if you don't have to totally depend on stipend.
  • starbrightstarbright Registered User Posts: 4,660 Senior Member
    Sic_infit, a popular graduate school path for engineers is an MBA (after about 5 years of work experience). Around 30% of a given MBA class are students with engineering backgrounds. It is a great combination.

    MBA degrees (and professional graduate degrees in general) are expensive, though some get their employer to cover some or all of the costs (but don't count on that).

    As others have said, you really can not predict your future more than a few years forward. And given you may want to get additional education - of some kind - after your undergrad, is one reason you may want to be cautious about the costs of that first degree.
  • yg7s7yg7s7 Registered User Posts: 876 Member
    ^Can you expect your employer to provide tuition reimbursement for Professional M.S for Engineering when you're a science grad?
  • sic_infitsic_infit Registered User Posts: 564 Member
    MBA degrees (and professional graduate degrees in general) are expensive, though some get their employer to cover some or all of the costs (but don't count on that).
    Are there any other paths you can take where tuition might be waived/not as expensive?
  • viciouspoultryviciouspoultry Registered User Posts: 837 Member
    Education is an investment, if an employer wont pay for it that means that it is not worth their money to send you to get an MBA. That being said many engineering companies will pay you for a terminal masters which will give you an increase in pay, but not a huge increases. But most professional schools cost a lot of money but in most cases will pay for themselves after several years.

    If your motivation is only money look into getting into finance (double major math/engineering/physics and finance all work well)
  • starbrightstarbright Registered User Posts: 4,660 Senior Member
    MUCH has been written on whether getting an MBA is worth the investment. Sometimes it is, sometimes it is not. I wish this were not true since my own career depends on the continued growth of the MBA market.
  • sic_infitsic_infit Registered User Posts: 564 Member
    If your motivation is only money look into getting into finance (double major math/engineering/physics and finance all work well)
    I wanted to start my own business, but you can't really count on that, but what I wanted to do even more was go into politics after being an engineer for a while. So yes, I guess my motivation is money, but not entirely.
  • EnginoxEnginox Registered User Posts: 828 Member
    There's nothing wrong with money being a motivation factor as long as you obtain and use that money responsibly. You want to get into politics? You will need money and lots of it.
  • cosmicfishcosmicfish Registered User Posts: 4,245 Senior Member
    I'm getting more and more confused now. A PhD does not help your wage? Call me greedy, but I have dreams of doing stuff that a 60 grand wage for the rest of my life will not cut. What is the point then, of getting a PhD? Can you actually do more at least?
    Yes and no. Getting ANY advanced degree is a gamble - you are spending 2-6 years making a stipend of $13-30k while your peers are making $50k+ and gaining experience. In the short term, this is a losing proposition, as you made less during that time and since your starting salary with an advanced degree is not far from the salary of that experienced engineer who worked instead of going to school.

    In the long term it gets trickier - advanced degrees CAN make more advanced positions available, but there are no guarantees (with the exception of academia - a masters will get you at best a poorly-paid instructor or non-tenure track position, you need the PhD to make it anywhere). There are relatively few non-academic positions that are limited to PhD's, but the title and training make it easier to advance - at my company, only about 5% are PhD's overall, but at the highest rank (making $250+k) it is something like 50%, so the PhD definitely does help.

    The big drawbacks to the PhD are that (a) you become very specialized so fewer companies want you, (b) you may never recoup the lost income from your grad student years, (c) not all companies value grad student time equally with experience, and (d) while most companies will consider a MS holder for a BS-level job the same is NOT true for PhD's.

    The bright side is that with the PhD there are some more interesting opportunities - academia, research, consulting/review, etc. If you like research (as in, doing things that no one has done before) then this is the right path. Even if you do not, PhD's can get in on some really interesting jobs - at DARPA, PhD's spend their time managing and reviewing other people's research programs.
  • cosmicfishcosmicfish Registered User Posts: 4,245 Senior Member
    Are there any other paths you can take where tuition might be waived/not as expensive?
    Professional programs (like MBA, JD, MD, etc) are rarely free or cheap, and the same is usually true of classwork-only programs (like some engineer masters degrees). Research-based degrees in the sciences are generally "free" in exchange for teaching work (TA), research work (RA), or occasionally previous academic success (fellowship).

    This aside, one of the best ways to get an otherwise-expensive degree for free is to seek out a job that will pay for it. My company pays for all engineering or hard science masters degrees, as well as some MBA's and PhD's. Likewise, some companies have specific programs that integrate a set period of work along with part or full-time attendence at a grad program, again for free. Bear in mind that nearly all of these programs involve some work obligation afterwards.
  • sic_infitsic_infit Registered User Posts: 564 Member
    well it looks like saving money now is the best bet for any future plans.

    Those professional programs don't seem all to appealing, but its not just professional programs is it? What else can you do in graduate school after an undergrad engineering degree? Can I get a PhD in economics?
  • viciouspoultryviciouspoultry Registered User Posts: 837 Member
    You can pretty much go to grad school for whatever with an engineering degree except maybe math and physics. But in order to be prepared you need to have atleast some knowledge on the subject before you try to pursue a PhD in it.
  • cosmicfishcosmicfish Registered User Posts: 4,245 Senior Member
    What else can you do in graduate school after an undergrad engineering degree? Can I get a PhD in economics?
    Anything... in theory. People often change fields going into grad school - my wife has a BS in elementary education and is now pursuing an MS in historical archaeology! But there is a difference between "can" and "have a real shot at".

    Going into a grad program, adcoms are looking at general qualities and specific preparation. General qualities means that you have good grades, some decent research experience, acceptable GRE's, etc - indicators that you are hard-working and have some level of intelligence. Since these apply across all programs, you can generally see where you stack up. And yes, research counts as research even if its in a different field - perhaps not quite as much, but it is still valuable and instructive.

    Specific preparation refers to foundational coursework needed for your research area - how much of it you have, how well you did, how much "catch-up" you will need to do. Bear in mind that many people don't have all the prerequisites even when they DON'T change fields, but the big concern with someone who IS changing fields is that (a) you might be starting off too far behind and (b) you might not be any good at those courses. They don't want to bring you in for a year of undergrad-level catchup only to find out that you really have no talent in Celtic Medieval Literature.

    This means that your chances of getting in drop off the farther you get from your undergrad degree. Engineering to economics? Depends on the engineering. Aerospace or electrical are probably a decent match, as you have a ton of mathematics. Chemical or civil you might be in trouble. Conversely, a chemical engineering might have a better shot at a biology degree than an EE.

    You can alleviate this by taking additional courses or even a minor in this second field of interest - my wife was a history minor, which helped her get into her archaeology program. A double major is generally not worthwhile, and even a minor might be too much (if the minor doesn't hit the senior-level coursework that programs really want to see), but taking at least a few courses can really help.

    Of course, another option is just to major in economics. I know, crazy.
  • sic_infitsic_infit Registered User Posts: 564 Member
    Math and Physics are most related to engineering, so why would you not be able to go to grad school for them?

    And to have at least some knowledge of the subject, do you mean you just have to take some electives on it in college? What usually goes well with a engineering B.S. in grad school, besides engineering?

    Thanks cosmicfish I posted before I saw yours btw.
  • sic_infitsic_infit Registered User Posts: 564 Member
    So I thought about it and I think I would really want to do a PhD in Chemistry, can you go from ChemE or MatSE to a Chemistry PhD?
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