Should You Enter a Doctoral Program or a Master’s Degree Program?

The answer depends on the area in which you hope to specialize and your purpose for pursuing graduate study.

Doctoral Programs

  • If your primary goal is to teach at a university or to be involved in research, a doctoral program is probably for you.
  • Completion of a doctoral program may be required for entry into certain career fields.
  • Doctoral programs are much longer and require completion of a research thesis.
  • Funding is often more available for doctoral programs than for master’s.

Masters Programs

  • A career-focused specialized master’s program may be exactly the right preparation for many careers (e.g. social work, fine arts, school psychology, theology, international affairs, public health, teaching)
  • Successful performance in a master’s program may help you to later complete a doctoral degree if your undergraduate grades are not strong.
  • Master’s programs are generally one to three years years in length and can often be done part time while working.

 

Should You Go Right Away or Postpone Attending Grad School?

Advantages to Continuing Your Education Immediately After Drew:

  • The degree may be mandatory to enter certain career fields.
  • You may start at a higher salary or in a more challenging position with graduate training.
  • Chances for advancement may be greater.
  • Right after graduation you may have fewer obligations and more time for intense graduate work.

Advantages to Postponing Continued Education:

  • Some graduate programs prefer older students with work experience.
  • Working first may help you learn more about the career field and help you decide on the right choice of an advanced degree.
  • Older graduate students sometimes have a clearer direction and more motivation and determination.  The theory that once you stop studying, you’ll never go back is seldom true.
  • Working first may give you time to save money for graduate school or, in some cases, have it financed by your employer.
  • If your grades are not high enough now, work experience in your field may increase your chances of acceptance to some graduate programs.

 

What About Going Part-time?

Part-time study can be a good option for many people.  Some master’s programs are offered online.  For most Ph.D. programs, though, full-time is the norm.