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MS vs PhD; unfunded vs funded


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Hi ,

I major in Mechanical Engineering and applied for 2015 fall PhD/Master programs. I got some admissions and finally decided to choose from two options:


My information:

undergrad ; limited research experience; stay in academia or find job in industry are both fine for me



Option 1.UMich Mechanical Engineering MS

pros: mechanical engineering program's high reputation; car industry =  more job openings?(I'm not quite sure); apply to better PhD programs in the furture

cons: unfunded! ; too cold; have to spend longer time to get PhD degree?




Option 2.UCSD Material PhD 

pros: funded(fellowship); weather's fine; more job opportunities in UC? (I'm not quite sure); POI is so considerate

cons: research area change from solid mechanics to material ; POI is an young AP


Is there anyone familiar these schools and programs? I would appreciate any advice from you!


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I think it really comes down to what you want to do after you graduate. You say either a job or academia is fine with you, but there must be one you're leaning towards more. If your undergrad degree is in mechanical engineering and you want to stay in that field, I would look for a job in that industry first so you can get some experience before going to grad school, since most engineering students I know can find a job fairly easily after graduating without having to go to grad school.


Otherwise, if you do want to go into academia and you don't mind switching to material, then I would choose the funded PhD so you don't have to pay so much out of your own pocket or go into debt.


(As an undergrad attending UMich right now, I will agree that our engineering programs are highly regarded, and there are decent career opportunities because of the automotive industry, like you said. However, winters are brutal.)

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I had to make a similar decision in undergrad.


Ultimately, the decision falls on whether you want to go into academia/research or go into regular industry positions that can be done with an MS. Most people do pay for professional MS degrees, so the fact that it's unfunded isn't necessarily a deterrent unless you think you'd be unable to repay the loans post-grad school.


Personally, how I feel is this: if you KNOW that you want to go into academia/research/some kind of position that you will need a PhD for, then go to UCSD and do the PhD. If you know you want an industry job, and/or are unsure about what you want to do next, take the MS and then go work after it.

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