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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?

  • starbrightstarbright 4549 replies111 threadsRegistered User 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.
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  • sic_infitsic_infit 434 replies130 threadsRegistered User 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.
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  • EnginoxEnginox 808 replies20 threadsRegistered User 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.
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  • cosmicfishcosmicfish 4258 replies24 threadsRegistered User 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.
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  • cosmicfishcosmicfish 4258 replies24 threadsRegistered User 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.
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  • sic_infitsic_infit 434 replies130 threadsRegistered User 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?
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  • viciouspoultryviciouspoultry 766 replies71 threadsRegistered User 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.
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  • cosmicfishcosmicfish 4258 replies24 threadsRegistered User 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.
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  • sic_infitsic_infit 434 replies130 threadsRegistered User 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.
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  • sic_infitsic_infit 434 replies130 threadsRegistered User 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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  • viciouspoultryviciouspoultry 766 replies71 threadsRegistered User Member
    Ok I misspoke, you can get a PhD in Math or Physics with engineering but you would more than likely have to take much more classes outside of the generally required ones. And electives may or may not be enough , a better suggestion is to plan on taking several actual major courses (not the water downed intro courses).
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  • cosmicfishcosmicfish 4258 replies24 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    FWIW, I personally know EE undergrads who got math and physics masters degrees, as well as an EE/math double major and an EE/econ double major.

    ChemE and MatSE to Chemistry is definitely possible, but brings up another point I should have mentioned. Generally speaking, you are only ever going to be really qualified to go into a few specialties in any given field. For example, I have a BSEE, but would not be competitive applying to grad school for control systems since I only ever took the most basic required course in that area. You are even more restricted if you are crossing fields - as a ChemE there would several areas in Chemistry where you would lack the depth required to be competitive. There would still be several other areas where you should be able to get in.
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  • sic_infitsic_infit 434 replies130 threadsRegistered User Member
    I like Chemistry, but can you really tell from high school chemistry if you will like graduate school chemistry?

    and - does anyone know what the job market for a Chem PhD is like, or should I post in the Science Majors?
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  • viciouspoultryviciouspoultry 766 replies71 threadsRegistered User Member
    How about instead of worrying about whether or not you will like graduate chemistry and instead see if you even like undergraduate chemistry, which is a very broad subject to begin with. The point of a baccalaureate degree is to find your strengths and use those strengths in various ways. You might want to go on to professional school, or graduate school, or maybe you will be sick of school and just go on with you undergraduate degree. You are still in high school, and you still have 4 or 5 years of college to find what you want to do with your life.

    Its not a bad thing that you are ambitious about your future, but before you can contemplate which graduate school facilitates your best skills, you need to actually take undergraduate courses and find your strengths. High school and college are not very similar and it is not practical to base your strengths on what you did or how you did in high school.
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  • sic_infitsic_infit 434 replies130 threadsRegistered User Member
    Well the reason I don't want to start with chemistry is because engineering is more versatile, can't you go onto more things starting with engineering first?
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  • hadsedhadsed 729 replies9 threadsRegistered User Member
    You really can't plan your life out like this. There are people who have read up on their fields of study, read the books for the higher level work, actually done the work for them, actually have research experience, etc. and those people are somewhat qualified to be planning out their lives 10 years in advance. Until you've either done that or taken classes, you really can't know what you'd 'like' to do even for a master's degree, and without research experience there's no way to know if you'd like to do a Ph.D.

    I think you ought to just choose a field, study it further as much as you can and if you realize you like it, then see if you can get into research at your school in that field. If you decide you hate it, then good thing you did so early enough so that you can move on to another subject.
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  • jack63jack63 567 replies46 threadsRegistered User Member
    My thoughts....
    I'm still really unclear about this. Can I count on spending 150k undergrad knowing that I will have a tuition waiver in graduate school?

    The simple answer is NO. It is more complicated than this. Most students in a Phd haven't paid any tuition, however I do know some who have....even at top ten schools. Most masters students pay tution. Also, about 40% of the students who graduate from a PhD program initially get in as a Masters student and then transfer into the PhD program. They usually pay tuition to get into the Masters program, and then stop paying tution when they transfer into the PhD program. Masters programs are usually less cometitive, so there is a sense in which you can "buy into" a PhD program by first getting into the Masters program. Also many students will pay to get into the best Masters program they can, and then they will use this to then apply to different and better PhD programs. Also, students can work inbetween the Masters and PhD programs...like me. I disagree that paying for a Masters is a bad idea. It can be a very marketable degree if you work in industry afterwards. It also has the potential to get you into a better PhD program.....the reputation of your PhD program does make a difference when you apply for research jobs and academic jobs. Finally, often you can find some sort of full or partial funding as a Masters student after you pay for a semester or two.
    If this were true, it would make sense for every engineer to get their PhD, so what am I missing?

    It is not true, and it is very competitive for engineers to get into PhD programs. I do agree that if it were true, there would be strong motiviation for many engineers to get a PhD.
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  • viciouspoultryviciouspoultry 766 replies71 threadsRegistered User Member
    My honest suggestion is write down what you are interested in and take classes pertaining to it. Yes, Engineering is more versatile but that's not to say that chemistry is not versatile. Take Engineering classes and chemistry classes or Chemical Engineering or whatever. If Economics interests you take intro to micro/macro along with Engineering. If you feel Economics is more suited to you, change your major.

    Right now graduate school should not be you prerogative, it can be something in the back of your mind, but right now all you should concentrate on is graduating high school and doing well in college. Whether or not you want to go to grad school, and especially for what will come to you more naturally as you keep learning and taking classes.
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  • cosmicfishcosmicfish 4258 replies24 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Well the reason I don't want to start with chemistry is because engineering is more versatile, can't you go onto more things starting with engineering first?
    This statement shows so much of your problem - you don't really know what you want to do! Is engineering more versatile? A bit, yes, but it's not that big a deal compared to the hard sciences - in other words, being a chemical engineer does not make you that much more versatile than being a chemist, it just makes you more marketable than a comparative literature major.

    The best solution is to keep your options open until you decide what you really want to do - at most schools you have a year or two before you really need to declare a major. I do recommend that you start out as an engineering major if you have any interest in actually being an engineer - ABET puts enrollment caps on many engineering majors, and getting in often require walking a vary particular path, while getting out of engineering is quite easy. Regardless, figure out what you want to do and major in that - it will give you your best chance for success. Work hard and do well at it (whatever it is) and you should do fine.

    EDIT: Dang, vicious, you beat me to the punch!
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