Author Topic: master's vs doctorate  (Read 5283 times)

Offline bookworm

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master's vs doctorate
« on: January 21, 2017, 02:04:06 am »
Ordinary people would normally think that a doctorate degree is more difficult to attain than a master's. But then I realized that it might be a misconception.

For example, English grammar is normally divided into three levels of difficulty: basic (easy), intermediate (average), advanced (difficult). If I compare college degrees to English grammar, I would say that a bachelor's degree is basic, a master's is intermediate, and a doctorate is advanced. But the adjectives used can be misleading since all three are normally difficult to attain as they require hard work to varying degrees. It seems that ordinary people normally expect a bachelor's degree to be hard to attain; a master's, harder; and a doctorate, the hardest.   

Undergraduate students are normally spoon-fed, depending on the standards or educational system of the school. I imagine students doing their master's being more independent. I've heard that some are assigned to read one book from cover to cover in a short period of time, and they discuss the contents with their professor and other classmates when they meet. They are also required to write one thesis in order to graduate, and I've heard of many postgraduate students who fail to obtain the degree because of the thesis requirement. 

I believe the same is true with doctorate degrees. Can we say that doctorate students are given more difficult reading materials and discuss more complicated topics compared to a master's?

Please confirm or correct my idea (or speculation) if necessary:

- In theory, doctorate students are given more difficult reading materials and it requires more work to obtain a PhD compared to a master's degree. But in practice, more or less the same amount of hard work is required in order to attain either one. Even so, institutions are most likely to consider people with a PhD than with a master's when making their final selection from a list of candidates.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.
English is my second language.

Offline Britta

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Re: master's vs doctorate
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2017, 09:54:16 am »
Quote
In theory, doctorate students are given more difficult reading materials and it requires more work to obtain a PhD compared to a master's degree. But in practice, more or less the same amount of hard work is required in order to attain either one. Even so, institutions are most likely to consider people with a PhD than with a master's when making their final selection from a list of candidates.

I think you haven't understood the concept.
First of all you normally need a master's degree to start a PhD, which means that PhD-people have a PhD and a master's degree, not a PhD instead of a master's degree.
Second point is your wording "are given more difficult reading materials...". For a PhD you are not "given" anything. The idea is that you learn scientific work, i.e. you learn how to do research. So you may start with a certain subject, agreed between you and your supervisor, and then you work on you own. To a certain degree that is also true for a master's degree, but there you are more guided. My son is just finishing a master's degree in German language. Yes this included "given" reading material, but it also included 3 years of courses in all sorts of language related subjects (linguistics etc.) and in the end he had to come up with a subject for a thesis on his own. There was some guidance involved but basically this was his own work, a new contribution to the selected field of research. For a PhD there is normally also a small amount of teaching involved. From my own experience some twenty-something years ago in a different subject (physics with a diploma and a PhD) this hasn't changed much in principle.

As for the question if companies prefer PhDs to master's degrees, that probably depends on the field. This may be true for MINT subjects but not necessary for subjects that include "reading material" as you put it. In my company we prefer a PhDs because we develop scientific instruments and we need people with experience in "working on their own" that master's students only have to a small degree.
« Last Edit: January 23, 2017, 09:58:37 am by Britta »
If it's not used by a native speaker it's not idiomatic. And idiom trumps grammar every time. Jack Wilkerson†

Offline bookworm

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Re: master's vs doctorate
« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2017, 11:44:10 pm »
Thanks for your comments, Britta.

I'm actually aware that you need to obtain a master's first before a PhD. I think that's one aspect that can be considered. A doctorate degree is harder because a master's degree is a prerequisite.

But then, what if a master's degree holder decides to obtain another master's. Can we say that two master's degree is theoretically equivalent to a master's and a PhD?

Based on your answers, they are not equivalent. After reading your comments, here's how I see it now: bachelor's (dependent); master's (slightly dependent); doctorate (independent).
English is my second language.

Offline bradshaw48

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Re: master's vs doctorate
« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2017, 06:02:10 am »
I believe that if you love the subject than whatever the level is whether it is Master’s or Doctorate, you will do fine and of course both of them require hard work.

Offline alexjeff322

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Re: master's vs doctorate
« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2019, 01:53:30 pm »
Thank you for creating this website. It has so many useful tips. I needed to write paper so I searched here some useful material for the essay.

Edit: link removed.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2019, 08:11:45 am by Britta »