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PhD vs MS


John12345
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I am debating between a couple of offers. One is for a PhD program at a decent (but not great by any standard) program with a professor that I am not crazy about. The other is a MS program at a school with a good master's program (lousy PhD program though) and a professor I like more.

Is it worth it do the MS and try to apply 2-3 yrs (probably 3, sigh) down the road to an better PhD program?

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John12345--

Before making your decision, see if you can get more information about both programs. Is the department with the decent program taking steps to make itself stronger? Is it looking to hire more professors? Does it offer graduate students the option to work with professors at other institutions?

Is the department with a good MS program taking steps to bring up the Ph.D. program up to speed? Does the professor you like more have career plans that he/she has not yet disclosed? Can the two of you build a relationship that will allow you to transcend the current limitaions of the Ph.D. program?

As for getting into a better program, unless one can punch one's own ticket, there's always going to be a greener pasture on the other side of the fence. The reputations of top programs come in no small part from the quality of its graduate students. What might be the benefits to you if you were to be a part of a program's transformation?

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