What is a second masters degree worth?
August 22, 2011 6:33 PM   Subscribe

What is a second masters degree worth?

Also how does a PhD withdrawal look to employers?

I'm in my mid-twenties and just finished my first year of an engineering PhD (at a UC school) and have decided it isn't for me (mostly that I couldn't deal with my advisor for the length of time it would take to finish and switching isn't an option). So I've told him I'm leaving. The question now is should I stick around long enough to get a second masters degree. In theory it should be possible to finish the classes I need in one more quarter. If I were to get the second masters it would be in a field not directly related to my research/career interests but there is some overlap. I expect it would cost about $10,000 to finish things here. That assumes that I have the motivation left for one more quarter of hard work, which is questionable since my heart isn't really in it anymore.

I have a BS and a masters already, both in engineering fields, from a big public research school and an UK university respectively. I finished my masters degree 2 years ago and the BS the year before that. The topic of my masters is quite narrow but is in the field I'd like to have a career in.
posted by Medw to Education (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
A second masters isn't likely to get you any additional salary compared to just one masters, but it may open doors to a new field that interests you.

Unless you are dealing with a company full of eggheads, withdrawing from a PhD program will probably reflect well on you. People in the business world generally see BS and MS degrees as good, practical study. A PhD is a luxury that leads to academia and ivory-tower thinking. Don't focus on the friction with your advisor, focus on your interest in doing productive work.

That said, I'm kind of surprised that a poor advisor relationship is preventing you from finishing your PhD in the UC system. Is there anyone in the department you can talk to about finding someone who is a better fit for you?

Theoretically, a good employee should be able to work with anyone. In the real world, interpersonal friction exists. In a program as stressful as a PhD, you need to find someone you can trust and have a great working relationship with. Or a field that you value so much that you are willing to be steppd on all day long.
posted by b1tr0t at 6:46 PM on August 22, 2011

What is a second masters degree worth?

$150/hour giving "massages", SAIT.

...mostly that I couldn't deal with my advisor for the length of time it would take to finish and switching isn't an option). So I've told him I'm leaving.

Dude. No. This is the absolute most wrong thing for you to do in dealing with people you don't like. I would ask if I could do a double PhD program. Start coming around more and arguing about stuff you are already agreed to doing...but you just want to argue.

Just make yourself comfortable around this advisor...and your whole program will get easier.

Either way, good luck.
posted by hal_c_on at 9:24 PM on August 22, 2011

I agree that continued learning is part of the goal but a handful more classes isn't going to gain me a huge amount of new experience/interest. I've talked to the right people and investigated my options and they just aren't really there for continuing the PhD. The reason that I can't find a new advisor is that the work my lab does (and my research interest) is a bit of an odd fit in the department (it would usually be in a different department). So there aren't many professors doing work in my area in my department. There, for whatever reason, also are very few professors that would work in other departments.

I think it is one thing to learn to work with people you don't like; binding myself to someone that I need to count on for a huge part of my life for the next 5 years is another thing. His former students are running up on the 6 year time limit for university support and leaving without a PhD.
posted by Medw at 10:41 PM on August 22, 2011

As an employer of technical skills I probably wouldn't offer anything extra for a second masters unless it was super relevant to the job I was hiring for.

When deciding on an employment offer for my company a PhD is worth 5 years work experience on top of a masters, about a full pay grade (a jump of US$10~20K in starting salary in Silicon Valley). More than 1 or 2 years working as a postdoc starts to become a huge negative. The assumption is you won't successfully make the transition from academia to industry.
posted by Long Way To Go at 11:23 PM on August 22, 2011

Engineer with an m.sc. here. One masters is lovely to have, but a second isn't likely to help you unless it's in something particularly useful. I think it makes it more apparent that you tried for a Ph.D. and quit. I can't speak as a hiring agent, but I'd say don't bother. There's no shame in realizing a Ph.D. isn't for you, but I wouldn't advertise that I quit something like that. It's somehow better to simply admit what you spent your last year working on, when asked in job interviews. Later on, an MBA might be additionally attractive to some employers though - as an example of when a 2nd masters is beneficial.
posted by ergo at 5:21 AM on August 23, 2011

I agree with the comments.

*A second Master's degree will make you highly specialized with more debt. It is not worth it.
*No one in industry will care that you dropped out of a PhD program. In fact - you can probably hide it on your resume if done correctly. Where you working during that time? If you were merely a research assistant you can place that down as a job and leave out the fact you were attending the PhD program.
posted by BuffaloChickenWing at 6:30 AM on August 23, 2011

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