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Dilemma: Funded PhD @Marquette vs. possibly unfunded MS @USC

urrjunurrjun Registered User Posts: 67 Junior Member
edited August 2007 in Graduate School
I applied to the biomed eng MS program at USC on the deadline (6/15) as a reach, and just found out I got in. I have spent the last few months arranging funding for a PhD at Marquette, and recently got an RA.

I have very limited time to decide between the two. My gut feeling is to go to USC; its engineering school is much higher ranked and its in California, which is good for both industry contact and weather. From what I've read, I like the faculty a lot more at USC. They are involved in a lot of fields I'm interested in and they have a lot of impressive research centers. I would like to go to business school after working for a few years, and USC would be much more beneficial for that. Also, finding funding at Marquette was very difficult. Both my adviser and the Director of grad studies were pretty unhelpful, and I had to ask a lot of profs before one had something available.

The (only) problem with USC is of course funding. USC seems to have a pretty big MS program, which means not all of them are getting RAs/TAs. My plan would be to start looking for funding sources immediately at USC, both through school and internships/coops. That being said, I think making the decision based on 1-2 years of 40k in costs might ignore the long-term benefit in terms of salary and job opportunity.

I would appreciate any suggestions or thoughts you guys have about this. I know a lot of people have dilemmas but this one is pretty huge, and classes start on Aug27th, so time is very limited.
Post edited by urrjun on

Replies to: Dilemma: Funded PhD @Marquette vs. possibly unfunded MS @USC

  • huskem55huskem55 User Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 4,284 Senior Member
    hmmm. free phd vs having to pay for a masters??? are you nuts???
  • DespSeekPhdDespSeekPhd Registered User Posts: 991 Member
    Is your funding at Marquette only for one year? If so (esp. given that you say they were unhelpful), do you think you will have difficulty getting funding for the next few years?

    Normally a funded anything is better, but not always. Just be sure you are making the decision based on real factors and not impressions (frustrations with funding issues, weather, etc.). Speak to and visit (if possible) faculty at USC before making the decision. And get crackin' trying to find out about USC funding!
  • urrjunurrjun Registered User Posts: 67 Junior Member
    The funding is technically for 1 semester, but there are a lot of requirements to keep it (Gpa, journal submissions, etc.). The lab is also just starting up and the professor is very young; he finished his post-doc last year.
    I do feel I am basing the decision on real factors, ie: Alumni network, research expenditures, national recognition, faculty, graduate placement, proximity to industry centers, and ncaa football rankings (jk)...USC is a lot better across the board, its essentially just money that is stopping me.
  • DespSeekPhdDespSeekPhd Registered User Posts: 991 Member
    1 semester of funding is not impressive enough, IMO, to choose a poorer program. Experience of a prof is definitely an issue, too, esp. a nontenured prof - what happens if (s_he goes elsewhere partway through your PhD? Plus, a PhD is a lot longer - that's a lot more semesters to struggle coming up with money.

    As far as your career goals are concerned - do you need a PhD, or can you do fine with a MS? Either way, I'd lean towards USC...but I suspect you've really made this decision already, and you're just looking for confirmation ;)

    Usually your gut decision, I find, is the way to go for this stuff.
  • urrjunurrjun Registered User Posts: 67 Junior Member
    So I just got word that assistance for MS students is generally an exception rather than the norm...any ideas?
  • SuperGradSuperGrad Registered User Posts: 93 Junior Member
    I applied to the biomed eng MS program at USC on the deadline (6/15) as a reach, and just found out I got in. I have spent the last few months arranging funding for a PhD at Marquette, and recently got an RA.

    I have very limited time to decide between the two. My gut feeling is to go to USC; its engineering school is much higher ranked and its in California, which is good for both industry contact and weather. From what I've read, I like the faculty a lot more at USC. They are involved in a lot of fields I'm interested in and they have a lot of impressive research centers. I would like to go to business school after working for a few years, and USC would be much more beneficial for that. Also, finding funding at Marquette was very difficult. Both my adviser and the Director of grad studies were pretty unhelpful, and I had to ask a lot of profs before one had something available.

    The (only) problem with USC is of course funding. USC seems to have a pretty big MS program, which means not all of them are getting RAs/TAs. My plan would be to start looking for funding sources immediately at USC, both through school and internships/coops. That being said, I think making the decision based on 1-2 years of 40k in costs might ignore the long-term benefit in terms of salary and job opportunity.

    I would appreciate any suggestions or thoughts you guys have about this. I know a lot of people have dilemmas but this one is pretty huge, and classes start on Aug27th, so time is very limited.

    First off, congratulations.

    Second off, from what I've heard, USC doesn't offer much financial assistance to it's MS students. Most of the aid money is reserved for the PhD students apparently. It seems that USC uses the money it gets from MS students to basically fund its PhD program.

    But then again, it really depends on your financial situation. You really have to talk to USC themselves regarding this matter.
This discussion has been closed.