Is a Phd really that limiting?

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Chem Student

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Apr 10, 2005, 12:27:27 AM4/10/05
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Does earning Phd in chemistry (or anything, for that matter) really
make one worse off than a MS? Do employers really get anal about the
"overqualified" mentality?

I do want to go to grad school, but I've read that it's financially
easier to get a Phd (stipend and such) than a Master's. Is it common for a
university to allow one to drop out early from a Phd program and walk away
with a MS?

muha

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Apr 10, 2005, 12:59:48 AM4/10/05
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In US, most MS chemists are PhD program drop-outs. Typicaly, they have
done the coursework and passed all exams but did not complete their
research thesis requirement.

Sure you can quit as MS but please do not advertise it on your uni
application. The application process is the same and you have to get
your admission and scholarship and pass the exams - so you may want to
stick around for 2-3 more years (if you can) and get a starting salary
that is 20 000 US$ higher as a PhD.

As a MS chemist in pharma industry, you will probably do pretty much
the same research job of as a PhD but for significantly less money. You
will always have a boss. You will have management people reminding you
that they are doing exception for you when they treat you as a
scientist rather than a technician.

MS/Bs have sometimes easier situation than PhD finding a job and
sometimes it is the other way around. Depends if you are from a good
university and have decent personal references.

Believe me, I worked for 3 pharma companies here in US and for 2
research institutes. And I have 2 master degress :)

number6

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Apr 10, 2005, 10:41:47 AM4/10/05
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Chem Student wrote:
> Does earning Phd in chemistry (or anything, for that matter) really
> make one worse off than a MS? Do employers really get anal about the

> "overqualified" mentality?

Definitely ... I'd never hire a PhD to wash glassware and package up
samples ...
If there is a position that the employer considers your overqualified
for consider you are really underestimating your abilities instead ...

>
> I do want to go to grad school, but I've read that it's
financially
> easier to get a Phd (stipend and such) than a Master's. Is it common
for a
> university to allow one to drop out early from a Phd program and walk
away
> with a MS?

Most Masters only people are working and taking courses paid for by
their employer ... Most Master's Degrees awarded though are PhD
candidates who don't complete ...

Richard

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Apr 10, 2005, 11:07:41 AM4/10/05
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muha wrote:
> In US, most MS chemists are PhD program drop-outs. Typicaly, they
have
> done the coursework and passed all exams but did not complete their
> research thesis requirement.
>
Not always true. However I did party my way out of grad school in the
middle of the Viet Nam war and got the MS consolation prize. After one
week at Fort Benning I was wishing I was back in school.

I have worked at a Fortune 500 company for almost 29 years. My boss for
most of that time inherited me when he became boss and made it clear he
wouldn't have hired me with only a MS. He, his boss and the VP over
all of us had a strong bias that only PhDs were competent to do "R&D"
which was what we sometimes did. Down the hall was another department,
another organization, who wouldn't touch a PhD. All they cared about
was someone's ability, not their degree. Both departments succeeded in
what they did.

As an MS chemist I did get a couple of jobs where they wanted someone
with more than a bare BS degree but didn't want to pay PhD wages. The
experience of three years in grad school doing PhD level courses and
research made a big difference in my ability to get and keep a good,
challenging job. All that booze and dope didn't take away from what I
did learn in school, the experience in the laboratory- it just made it
too damn hard to study for the PhD qualifier exams.

Most of these questions don't have easy, black and white answers. If a
chemist (or other scientist) is competent technically, willing to work
and not a complete social misfit he or she will find a place where
they fit in and can succeed.

Keep your nose to the grindsone, your eye on the ball and just try to
get anything done in that position.

Richard

Henry Boyter

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Apr 10, 2005, 11:15:10 AM4/10/05
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Number6

In today's academic environment, you may need to hire
a PhD if you want a proper solution made. They don't
require that skill it before the PhD level based on the BS's
and MS's I've worked with lately.

Henry Boyter, Jr.
PhD Chemist

http://www.itt.edu/staff/boyter/links/index.html
The opinions expressed are those of Dr. Boyter and
are provided for informational purposes only and
should not be used as advice. No warranty or
expression of professionalism is implied.


"number6" <snum...@aol.com> wrote in message
news:1113144107.5...@z14g2000cwz.googlegroups.com...

number6

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Apr 10, 2005, 11:56:48 AM4/10/05
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Henry Boyter wrote:
> Number6
>
> In today's academic environment, you may need to hire
> a PhD if you want a proper solution made. They don't
> require that skill it before the PhD level based on the BS's
> and MS's I've worked with lately.
>

hehe ... that's another discussion point ... I'll agree with you ...
with 5 kids either in or out of college ... I can attest that their
Bachelor degrees and college credits are indeed based on much less work
and scope than mine was ... My first excursion to this was about a
dozen years ago when my oldest entered Stockton State in New Jersey in
the Physics program ... All courses were just made 4 credits ... they
took 4 courses ... but her calculus class was 5 credits because ...
"calculus is hard" ... My 6 credits of calculus back in the sixties
covered more ground than her 10 ... rediculous ... When I went to grad
school ... I was emminently prepared because of my coursework ... and
on the fast track because of other opportunities presented that I took
advantage of ...

I don't know if graduate schools have changed ...I don't have much
contact in academia ... but If not ... I can see where today's students
are ill prepared to succeed there ...

Auron

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Apr 10, 2005, 1:51:36 PM4/10/05
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"number6" <snum...@aol.com> wrote in news:1113148608.266647.20280
@l41g2000cwc.googlegroups.com:

> hehe ... that's another discussion point ... I'll agree with you ...
> with 5 kids either in or out of college ... I can attest that their
> Bachelor degrees and college credits are indeed based on much less work
> and scope than mine was ... My first excursion to this was about a
> dozen years ago when my oldest entered Stockton State in New Jersey in
> the Physics program ... All courses were just made 4 credits ... they
> took 4 courses ... but her calculus class was 5 credits because ...
> "calculus is hard" ... My 6 credits of calculus back in the sixties
> covered more ground than her 10 ... rediculous ... When I went to grad
> school ... I was emminently prepared because of my coursework ... and
> on the fast track because of other opportunities presented that I took
> advantage of ...

I've looked at textbooks from the 60s and 70s and have noticed that
they are more about work and less about an endless supply of pretty
pictures (today's books). From what I see and hear is that grades are
inflated and classes are dumbed down in all schools across the country.

It pisses me off that I want to cover material at a more rapid pace
so that I can be ready for grad school, but courses cater to slowest
people who are slow because they simply don't care. Nearly everyone is
lazy and expects a passing grade simply because they paid for it. If too
many people fail the course, the instructor will get in trouble, so the
classes simply cater to them.


number6

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Apr 10, 2005, 10:29:14 PM4/10/05
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Good for you !!! ... To achieve your goal of getting ready for grad
school ... find a prof you like ... Look up his research ... even if
just his dissertation ... and tell him you want to do some research in
that area ... He'll be impressed and I'm sure find something good for
you to do ... That way ... first year of grad school while your
compatriots are still looking for the bathroom ... you can be starting
if not your thesis ... some good project that will make your thesis
easy ...

I may have been too general about the dumbing down in schools ... and
justifiably complained about Stockton ... but my youngest son Freshman
in Engineering at NJIT seems to be taking "real" courses ...as they
challenge the students ... and they do weed out ...

terp...@hotmail.com

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Apr 10, 2005, 11:47:25 PM4/10/05
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I've known (and worked with) PhD's who couldn't make a proper solution
either. Often the worst are those who always bill themselves ad "PhD"
(Wanna see 'em start apoplexy? Call 'em "Mister.")
Analyze the real difference, which has already been pointed out: Same
courses, same cumulative exams, two years of bench research. (I guess
proper solution making is only taught in those last two years)
There are both Ph.D's and MS's that couldn't find their ass with both
hands and a map, and both Ph.D's and MS's that are incredibly talented.
Why the difference in salaries? Management fear for their own jobs.
That MS chemist is a laggard, nothing is done on time, makes
significant errors, and so on: can him and woe to the prople who hired
that one.
That PhD chemist is a laggard, nothing is done on time, makes
significant errors, and so on: he's a brilliant man, meticulous, a
little distracted so what do you expect? Another great hiring
decision.

dbo...@mindspring.com

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Apr 11, 2005, 10:12:50 PM4/11/05
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As a high tech business owner and employer, it is often dificult to
justify paying a PhD so much more than MS or even BS so that we tend to
look for good self directed MS people. Whenever you hire somebody, you
are taking a risk and the risk is less with an MS person who if his
initial task does not work out can be easily retrained for something
else. If the work is very well defined, you may be able to find a PhD
person who fits but for poorly defined tasks I'd look more toward MS
types.

Borek

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Apr 12, 2005, 4:09:15 AM4/12/05
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On 11 Apr 2005 19:12:50 -0700, <dbo...@mindspring.com> wrote:

> look for good self directed MS people. Whenever you hire somebody, you
> are taking a risk and the risk is less with an MS person who if his
> initial task does not work out can be easily retrained for something
> else. If the work is very well defined, you may be able to find a PhD
> person who fits but for poorly defined tasks I'd look more toward MS

It sounds like PhD are less prone to retraining :)

Best,
Borek
--
http://www.chembuddy.com - chemical calculators for labs and education
BATE - Base Acid Titration and Equilibria
program for pH calculations

William Penrose

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Apr 12, 2005, 7:14:03 PM4/12/05
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On 10 Apr 2005 04:27:27 GMT, Chem Student <nos...@nospam.com> wrote:

> Does earning Phd in chemistry (or anything, for that matter) really
>make one worse off than a MS? Do employers really get anal about the
>"overqualified" mentality?

Sometimes they do, buy you're always better off with the PhD, even if
you later change fields. It's like having a weird blue halo shining on
you from Heaven.

> I do want to go to grad school, but I've read that it's financially
>easier to get a Phd (stipend and such) than a Master's. Is it common for a
>university to allow one to drop out early from a Phd program and walk away
>with a MS?

Yes, it's common, and one of the impediments to getting a job with an
MS is that you might be perceived as a quitter or flopout from a PhD
program.

Bill Penrose

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