PhD or Masters??? Help for a student at the crossroads.

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geof
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Hello everyone!

I am about to finish my undergraduate degree in Computer Science. I have gotten a place to do a PhD at quite a good university in London. However, I am hesitant about what the future will hold for me if I decide to take it. I am starting to think that I should instead do a masters degree before hand. I am in quite a good position at the moment and think I could get into a MSc programme at Oxford.

Pros/cons for PhD:
- It is paid for
- It is a PhD (better??)
- It takes longer
- I get a stipend
- It might pigeon hole me?
- Good uni, not the best

Pros/cons for MSc:
- It only takes a year
- Good for industry
- Best uni in the world?
- Have to pay
- Have to wait a year to apply

What are your thoughts? Would love some opinions. Thanks.
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Duncan2012
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Personally I would be biting their hand off for the PhD.

How well regarded is the supervisor? What would you do for a year if you went for the MSc? Which course better fits with your longer-term career plans?
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Araucano
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If you have already been offered a paid PhD without a Master's, isn't it highly probable that, following a Master's Degree, you will be offered the same?

I am about to start a second Master's (funded by ESRC). I'm happy about it because it gives me even more time to prepare for the tough challenge of the PhD. It is also in my long-term interests to take the Master's because it revolves around Social Science Research (ESRC won't fund unless you first take a Methodology based MA). Many PhD candidates don't have strong training in research skills.

Ultimately, there are pros and cons. Only you can decide which route works for you.

Taking a Master's will delay you from the job market for an extra year.
You may pants up the MA and potentially affect your chances of a funded PhD (unlikely?)

Also, why do you have to wait a year to apply? Universities are still accepting for MA's. Perhaps you mean for funding?
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geof
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(Original post by Duncan2012)
Personally I would be biting their hand off for the PhD.

How well regarded is the supervisor? What would you do for a year if you went for the MSc? Which course better fits with your longer-term career plans?
Hello, thanks for the excellent questions. To answer them (as best as I can):
- I was thinking that I could work for the year out, which might actually give me a better CV.
- My supervisor is very good, he is actively researching in my area, also I have been told that he is very patient and understanding.
- This is the the ultimate question really, what fits better with my long-term career plans? The short answer is: I don't really know.
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geof
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(Original post by Araucano)
If you have already been offered a paid PhD without a Master's, isn't it highly probable that, following a Master's Degree, you will be offered the same?

I am about to start a second Master's (funded by ESRC). I'm happy about it because it gives me even more time to prepare for the tough challenge of the PhD. It is also in my long-term interests to take the Master's because it revolves around Social Science Research (ESRC won't fund unless you first take a Methodology based MA). Many PhD candidates don't have strong training in research skills.

Ultimately, there are pros and cons. Only you can decide which route works for you.

Taking a Master's will delay you from the job market for an extra year.
You may pants up the MA and potentially affect your chances of a funded PhD (unlikely?)

Also, why do you have to wait a year to apply? Universities are still accepting for MA's. Perhaps you mean for funding?
The masters programmes that I was looking at have closed their applications for the coming year so I would need to take a year out unfortunately.

I am very intrigued by what you said about masters funding. If I'm honest, I didn't really know that it was a possibility to receive funding for a masters. How exactly did you go about that?

Thanks.
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Araucano
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(Original post by geof)
The masters programmes that I was looking at have closed their applications for the coming year so I would need to take a year out unfortunately.

I am very intrigued by what you said about masters funding. If I'm honest, I didn't really know that it was a possibility to receive funding for a masters. How exactly did you go about that?

Thanks.
It's very competitive. In Politics and International Relations, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the main funding body for postgraduate degrees. Where an applicant does not have sufficient training in Social Science Research Methods as part of a Master's programme, they will fund a Research Training Master's and a PhD as part of a 1+3 ESRC studentship. If I candidate already has sufficient research training, they will only receive a +3, meaning, 3 years of a PhD. As my first MA did not include Research Training, ESRC agreed to award me a 1+3, which means taking a second (funded) Master's in Research Training before I progress onto the funded PhD.

They insist on taking a Research Methods Oriented MA first in order to guarantee that the ESRC funded PhD is completed to a high standard, and is as 'scientific' as possible.

I am not sure which, or if any, funding body, supports Computer Science. But I imagine there are Master's scholarships available. Political Science is hugely underfunded compared to the natural sciences, but I received a part studentship (50% off tuition fees), supported by the department, for my first MA.
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