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MS first?


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I've debating between 2 schools which have admitted me. The first is an MS program and the second is a PhD program. A third school, my first choice, fell through.

Is it worth it to consider doing the MS and then re-applying to PhD programs, with the hope of getting into a really good program? What sort of circumstances would it take for you to consider this?

Also, I will note that I graduated 3 years ago.

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Getting a masters degree definitely pads your resume. It seems, based on your two other acceptances, that your application already is pretty strong though. A big part (maybe even the biggest part) is funding which there isn't a lot of to go around right now. Maybe the situation will be better after you get your master's degree... maybe not.

The only funded offer I got last go around was a master's program so I took it and ran. I feel like this helped a lot in my interviews as I had a ton of research experience and knowledge compared to when I was interviewing the first go around.

However, back to funding... one of the schools that I got an interview from right out of undergrad didn't even bother this go around. I really doubt the quality of applicants their sky-rocketed. So even though my CV was vastly superior than it was before and now included a couple first author publications, even more presentations and a year of teaching experience... they didn't even feel like talking to me before sending a rejection.

So it can be a mixed bag... it will definitely help your CV, but based on the funding situation of the POIs and program, that may not matter. It is a gamble. But if you really don't feel like you're a good fit for the PhD program you got into, I'd say go for the masters and cast a much bigger net next round.

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