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Difference Between a Master’s and a Ph.D.
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What’s the Difference Between a Master’s and a PhD?

A common question often arises in almost every student’s mind after their Bachelor’s or during the final few months of Bachelor’s is whether to go into a job or pursue higher studies.

Difference Between a Master’s and a Ph.D.

When discussing higher education, there are two options: a Master’s or a Ph.D. Some PhDs don’t require a Master’s degree, while a few do. So, is pursuing a Ph.D. directly after the Bachelor’s a good choice? Or opting for a Master’s course first followed by a Ph.D. is more feasible for education?

Well, we’re here to clear all your doubts regarding pursuing a Master’s or a Ph.D. degree after graduation. In this article, we will focus on helping you understand the primary differences between the two post-graduate degrees. So, without much ado, let’s dive deeper!

What is a Master’s Degree?

A Master’s degree is the next level of education you can do after a bachelor’s. This degree requires you to do intense coursework with lectures given by professors, assignments, and a final year research project.

This course is mainly for current graduates who want to develop a deeper understanding of a subject and gain some research experience that an undergraduate degree cannot provide.

A Master’s degree is more of a specialized course and acts as a stepping stone where you can earn more salary, learn new skills, and gain enhanced subject knowledge.

Benefits of Pursuing a Master’s Degree

A Master’s course takes ⅓rd of the time and costs compared to a doctorate. It is also an excellent way to set yourself apart from those with only a bachelor’s degree.

Besides, it doesn’t require you to make a significant time commitment to research. As a result, the ultimate objective of this course is more career-oriented than research-oriented.

Moreover, this education route makes it easier to change or advance your career if it aligns well with your professional objectives.

What is a Ph.D.?

The abbreviation Ph.D. stands for Doctor of Philosophy. It is a higher degree awarded primarily to a student who devoted his 3-7 years of time, energy, and resources to extensive research. To accomplish this course, you must produce an independent, new, novel body of work on a particular topic.

A Ph.D. is primarily a degree related to academics and is a prerequisite for becoming a professor. However, a student with a Ph.D. degree can also have importance in the R&D sector, especially in engineering fields, as there is a high demand for competent people.

Benefits of Doing a PhD

PhDs can be done post-Master’s and also directly after Bachelor’s. By doing a Ph.D., you will have a wide range of transferable abilities like communicating complicated ideas effectively, managing your time efficiently, and adapting to and solving new issues competently.

While pursuing this degree will assist you in becoming an expert in your chosen field of study, your work should contribute to the advancement of that domain.

Besides, in academia, a Ph.D. degree opens ample career routes. For instance, it enables you to get teaching posts in universities that would otherwise be difficult to obtain. However, these career paths will still be competitive.

Last but not least, you can add the title of “Dr.” before your name after accomplishing the Ph.D. degree.

Master’s vs. Ph.D. – Time Required for Completion

There are several 1-year Master’s degrees available in the US, although most courses are 2-years long. Some programs require a semester-long thesis, while a few need a capstone project in which you need to produce what you’ve learned and generate a unique piece of work. However, the majority of the course comprises coursework.

Completing a Ph.D. in the US mainly takes between 5-7 years. The first two years of the university are devoted to academics. Even if a student decides not to complete the entire Ph.D. program, you can get a Master’s degree at this point. For the following 3-5 years, you’ll have to work on your dissertation, a substantial piece of writing based on your research and intended to make a significant addition to your domain.

Master’s vs. Ph.D. – Academic Costs

Due to the availability of minimal financial help, a Master’s degree often has a higher initial cost.

However, specific Master’s students get stipends for their work as teaching or research assistants. In addition, many individuals get their Master’s degrees part-time while working full-time, paying for their living expenses and tuition fees.

Also, depending on the institution and curriculum, the expense might vary considerably. Usually, public schools cost less than private ones. Master’s degrees, such as MBA, are famously pricey, but the payoff is well worth it in terms of salaries.

On the contrary, PhDs, especially in the sciences, are often (though not always) subsidized. It means that the tuition is paid in full, and students get a modest living stipend. However, they must work as graduate instructors or research assistants to get their stipend during the final 3-5 years of their Ph.D. program after completing their coursework (and sometimes even before).

Besides, many fellowships or funding programs are available that relieve Ph.D. students from their teaching or research assistant duties. The funding for doctoral programs in the United States is often superior to that in any other country.

Students can sometimes complete Ph.D. degrees on a part-time basis. However, this is very uncommon. Usually, they need to serve as teaching or research assistants for at least 40 hours per week as part of their coursework.

Master’s vs. Ph.D. – Salaries

Master's vs. Ph.D. - Salaries

A Master’s degree increases one’s salary more quickly than a doctorate.

A Master’s course completed in the United States is projected to fetch an excellent salary than the degree earned in any other country. Students with a Master’s degree typically earn 23% more than those with just a high school diploma, known as the Master’s pay premium.

However, the average Ph.D. pay premium in the US is 26% less than the Master’s degree premium.

Do You Need to Have a Master’s to Do a Ph.D.?

The university, department, and even the project and supervisor play a role in determining this.

Usually, a Master’s degree in a related field may be required for admission to a doctorate program at specific universities or at least in the application process. Although some universities don’t need it, having a Master’s degree might help you stand out from the crowd when applying for a job.


Thus, the Master’s degree is mainly a research-based certification. It exhibits the knowledge gained via critical engagement with relevant research, disciplinary practices, and coursework.

On the contrary, a Ph.D. is the most comprehensive and methodical grasp of a specific topic of study. To be eligible for a doctorate, one must make an original addition to their knowledge. Also, it must advance professional practice and be shared with appropriate parties to help progress knowledge in the relevant area of study, discipline, profession, or creative domain.


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