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How much is an Ivy League degree worth?


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So I have two acceptances now and since its mid-March Im starting to really think hard about them. Im still hoping to see what comes of the schools Ive been waitlisted at buuuut for now lets focus on what I got. I have one offer for a funded PhD at a good but not really prestigious school and an offer for a masters at Cornell which has a reputable program. Should I bite the bullet and take the unfunded masters? This adds a few years to my education and you know, finances. I was thinking maybe I could take the Masters of Engineering over the Masters of Science since its only 1 year which makes the money and time easier but Im not sure how this would look for PhD programs which are my ultimate goal. Is Cornell worth the time and money? Thoughts?

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IMO, take the PhD. If you ultimately want to get a PhD, why put yourself through the process of reapplying and relocating AGAIN, when you're already being offered a funded place in a PhD program? And why pay for a master's degree when you can get a PhD for free? (Well, more or less.) The PhD program might not be as "prestigious," but it must have something of value to you or you'd have never applied in the first place, right?

All of this being said, I would strongly advise you to not make ANY decision until you've heard back from everyone. You should have all available information before you make your choice.

Edited by MediaMom
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If you don't have a masters yet it might definitely be worth it. Especially if your GPA could be better, or if your undergrad is from a less well known school.

Yes, this is definitely a factor. My GPA is very low I was quite surprised when I was waitlisted and not rejected almost everywhere and when Cornell actually accepted me-even for a masters. The masters degree may actually help me in my PhD pursuits by giving me some solid grades in a graduate program as a reference.

How is research fit between the two schools?

Cornell has the better research fit by far. I applied to the other school, Montana State, because they have a decent environmental bioengineering program with a good focus on biofilm engineering and also because Im so in love with the area. While biofilms do interest me and if I had no other options Id go for it Ive come to the realization (actually through writing all the personal statements and some recent research breakthroughs) that I really would rather apply my degree medically instead of environmentally which is what Cornell is offering. My big research interest is in tissue engineering and biomaterials which Cornell does quite a bit of and are well known in the field for this while Montana does not do any tissue engineering and very little biomaterials work since they have the environmental focus.

IMO, take the PhD. If you ultimately want to get a PhD, why put yourself through the process of reapplying and relocating AGAIN, when you're already being offered a funded place in a PhD program? And why pay for a master's degree when you can get a PhD for free? (Well, more or less.) The PhD program might not be as "prestigious," but it must have something of value to you or you'd have never applied in the first place, right?

All of this being said, I would strongly advise you to not make ANY decision until you've heard back from everyone. You should have all available information before you make your choice.

And that is absolutely the other part of the argument for me. I love the program Cornell offers more and the school absolutely has the better name which might make taking the masters a good choice for me, BUT MSU is a PhD and is more financially prudent. However, Im also not sure I want to more or less end my academic career at a mediocre school which Cornell may help with by opening better doors. But also as Ive said, a big issue are all the waitlists at the moment and I do NOT want to make a decision either way until Ive heard back from the rest. Im also not too excited with all the waitlists at possibly having to make the decision on April 15th at 11:59pm but I definitely need to think on this.

Thanks guys!

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