Study Abroad: Tips & Updates

PhD vs Masters.

Yocket Editorial Team

What is PhD?

"PhD" is a term, often used as a synonym for any doctoral-level qualification. Basically, if you want to keep gaining more and more knowledge about your favourite subject and want to achieve the absolute pinnacle of the subject , you go for “PhD” or the “Doctor of Philosophy”.  It is the highest degree of education one can earn. “MPhil” is a degree derived from PhD and is a two year programme, designed for those who would like to acquire a certain level of analytical as well as applied skills but may not be keen on pursuing a PhD degree.

What is Master’s?

An academic degree that is awarded to you by an university when you successfully complete your professional practice on a certain field of study or your interest is named as the Master’s degree. It is the first-level of graduate study and a level 7 qualification - above Bachelors degrees but still below PhD which is taken up when you want a professional work or a job in a niche market.  

Course description.

Now, let us know what comprises in the courses. A PhD consists of a research element which is usually short and less in-depth and often more relatable to a thesis undertaken at undergraduate or master’s level. The programs included in a full course of PhD includes : Coursework, Pedagogy, Qualifying exam, Preparation of research proposal, and Thesis work. And, the MPhil students focus more on interpreting existing knowledge and theory, and critically evaluate other people’s work, rather than producing their own research. However, the precise nature and definition of MPhils vary greatly between different universities and countries.

Studying Master’s degree is intense and typically involves completing a series of modules and writing a thesis. In Master’s degree you have options, too. There are four types of Master’s course, namely : a Full-time, a Part-time, an online and an accelerated one. The Full-time Masters students are usually those who choose to apply to traditional method of acquiring Master’s and headway directly from a Bachelor’s degree, while part-timers are usually older. Part-time students often fit study with an existing career that allow them to easily gain work experience while studying, to the employers. Also, there are some graduate school programs that offer flexible coursework for working people. Students pursuing such type of master’s degree can continue to work as well pursue their field of interest. However, there are some who prefer to get their Master’s degree online for the benefits of self-scheduling the lectures and accelerated course offerings.


A Master’s degree program generally requires a year and a half to two years of full-time study spanning 36 to 54 semester credits depending on the type of course you choose.

The minimum course duration for PhD is 2 years but it can be extended to 4-8 years depending on the topic on which you are researching or performing your thesis. An MPhil, that is kind of a shorter version of PhD, takes about two to three years to complete in most countries.

Eligibility criteria.

You can get admitted to a PhD course only when you have obtained a master’s degree in a related field of study. Some specific qualifications are also required depending on the field of study and the university such as GATE scores are a must for PhD in Engineering field. Though, some universities do accept a strong undergraduate degree, often with a strong research element with a great work experience. But instead of a long term PhD, this may be an MPhil, or a research master's (commonly called an MRes).

You can go for Master’s directly after your Bachelor’s degree. But, it highly depends on the universities of different countries. There happens to be competitive exams such as GRE, GMAT, IELTS, TOEFL, etc depending on the stream/ course you opt. Some also demand work experience for MBA courses.

Value of the degree.

PhD is a latin word which means “Teacher in the love of wisdom” which is why it is awarded to original contributions to knowledge. PhD is a requirement for a career as an university professor or researchers in the field of interest. It also enables you to keep striding with the expanding edges of knowledge and provides you with research training for the present social and economic objectives of the country. Besides being a professor, Philosophy professors or PhD degree holders often write articles or books on their own thesis work.

The field that you choose to study for your Master’s degree, you will not only gain theoretical knowledge in the applied topics but also earn high order practical analysing skills, evaluate critically, professional application, ability to solve problems and learn how to think independently. Master’s is a degree that gives you the lavish professional life that you have been always dreaming of.

Wondering what’s next, after achieving the highest degree of Education, PhD?

Like I already said and you must be knowing, the most common profession after acquiring PhD is being a Professor or Lecturer in an Educational Institute. The second thing you aim for is being a researcher or scientist in Research Institutes. And, if you are looking for scopes other than these, then you can be a Human Services Worker or a Novelist & Writer for a Publishing House. You can also be a Journalist, Editor & Critic in Newspapers or work in a Philosophical Journal. If you aim at working on a thesis related to Law, you can work in Law Firms or can be a Independent Consultant, as well.

What are the future scope after Master’s?

When you are more interested in working and gaining practical interest rather than keep on studying for a longer period of time, you opt for a Master’s degree. Most of the universities providing Master’s degree also offer placements and you get recruited by companies direct from your universities itself. Some of the common future scopes after your Master’s degree are -

  • CEO - Chief Executive Officer
  • Architectural and Engineering manager
  • Financial Manager
  • General and operational Manager
  • Computer and Information Research Scientist
  • Human resources and Senior Officer
  • Database Administrator
  • Physicist
  • Astronomer
  • Public Relations Manager
  • Economist
  • Financial Analyst
  • Healthcare Manager
  • Public health Nurse
  • Community Counselor
  • Director of Nursing

These are only some of the job opportunities or posts that you get recruited to after earning your Master’s degree. There are galaxy of opportunities when you get your Master’s degree in your hand depending on your field of interest.

There happens to be more enrollment in case of Master’s than that of PhD. Even when PhD gives more of honor than a Master’s degree, but still majority of the students opt for Master’s. Why? PhD is a degree that costs you a huge amount of your precious time, dedication and knowledge. Also, the time period that researching on your thesis needs, might cost you to quit your job whereas you might just earn almost the same amount of salary after your Master’s in some the fields. When it comes to eligibility criteria, some of the companies, especially the startups prefer young, energetic employees who are afresh learners which leads to maximum employment for the graduates. But, in case of PhD, it takes years to earn a full-fledged doctoral degree and also, you might be more than what a company would need, leading to narrowing your job opportunities. Also, for doing your PhD, you first need to earn a Master’s degree and then once they enter the job sector, they aren’t willing to go through the process of quitting their jobs and get back to research and study. If you have that urge within you to go through all it takes to earn the prestige and the ultimate degree of education for the love of your field of study then you can always think of Robert Frost who took the path less travelled  by.

How heavy are these for your pockets?

Though having a Master’s qualification can greatly boost your career prospects, when you decide to go down this route, research thoroughly before you make a decision, as the high costs and academic demands mean this postgraduate study isn't for everyone. The costing depends on the course you take up, whether MS, or MBA or Master’s on Nursing or Arts which also varies from universities to countries. But, generally the cost starts from $10,000 and exceeds till $120,000 or even more, which again depends on the duration of the course, as well.

Similarly, funding of a PhD course is highly dependable on the course duration and the universities. But roughly, the average costing for a research based PhD course is around $20,000-$60,000, depending on whether you are applying for a research based PhD or a professional doctoral degree.

Can you recall Robert Frost’s “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both…”? To disagree, you can actually travel both the paths if you have that willpower and dedication towards your field of interest and earn both the degrees. However, for majority of the universities, you have to own a Master’s degree first to go for PhD. So, if you are looking for ways that can improve your career, acquiring a Master’s degree such as MBA can be worthwhile, financially, because you mostly receive the work-life similar to that of a PhD holder. And there’s only an average difference of 8-12% in the salary between a Masters degree and a PhD degree. But, when it comes to loving your field truly, and enjoying your studies and want to enjoy the benefits and prestige associated with a Doctoral degree, you should absolutely go for pursuing a PhD.

Articles you might like