PhD vs. MBA in Engineering

<p>(I posted this in the MBA forum, but I figure I should get the Ph.D side as well)
Hi All,</p>

<p>First some background. I'm an EECS (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science) Major from UC Berkeley. For the longest time I wanted an MBA as a means to move into IB/Finance and make lots of money, but lately my priorities have shifted a bit. I applied for grad school last fall and now it looks like I'll be going to UIUC for a MS degree.</p>

<p>Long term, I'm interested in moving up in management on the technical side, and I was wondering if anyone here knows whether going for a Ph.D after finishing my MS or pursuing an MBA is more beneficial for that goal. After working at a few internships, it seems like everyone and their dog has a Master's, so I feel like I definitely need one of the two (at least) to differentiate myself and prevent myself from hitting that "ceiling" that everyone's talking about.</p>

<p>First of all, it depends a little on what you mean by "technical management". At my company, this usually refers to our advanced technical experts who are generally leading design or research teams. Almost of all of these people have technical masters or doctorates, and to my knowledge none have MBA's. </p>

<p>However, we also have "functional management" who are responsible for developing technical talent (including hiring and firing and assigning specific people to specific programs). While few of these have MBA's, many do have some type of management degree in addition to a technical degree - at some levels, they continue to work as engineers in addition to being management. There are some high-quality PhD's in this group, just not as many.</p>

<p>The typical MBA routes are either program or business management - program management has you running programs and directing (loosely) technical personnel, and generally requires a substantial technical understanding of your product area. As a result, the vast majority of program managers have a BS in a technical field, usually engineering. Business management puts you squarely out of the technical field. Neither group is likely to possess even a masters in a technical field, much less a doctorate.</p>

<p>I should note that MBA's have tremendous mobility across industries, but in technical areas PhD's have about as many opportunities. Many of our managers and VP's are PhD's. So decide what you really want to do, and go for it! If you are unsure, go into industry for a few years - it will really focus your interests for you.</p>

<p>If you are looking at long term, an MBA program generally requires several years of work experience (depeneding on what schools you are looking at) before you can apply. I understand your situation a little because I would like to be doing design before management and differentiate myself from the other employees here. I will also be starting an MSCE program in the fall, but my company wants me to start an MBA program in the future. The way I look at it is that anyone can really pursue an MBA in fact it may be the most popular graduate degree (don't know that for sure, but it really seems like it), but only a few can and are willing to pursue higher education in an engineering field. I would say get your engineering MS and see what kind of work you get into after your MS. At least that way you will have work experience to satisfy some of the better business schools, if thats the route you choose. I don't know how well a PhD will help in management, so I won't comment on that. Hope that helps!</p>

<p>I'm going to do EECS at Berkeley as well, and this is something I was thinking about as well.</p>

<p>I'm considering: EECS --> Phd --> MBA</p>

<p>So, I would do a phd in EECS or Applied Physics (minoring in physics) and do MBA prerequisite courses (not sure which ones, or when I'd do them exactly). After work experience maybe go for an MBA.</p>