hbawab
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Hi everyone,

I need help with sorting out a dilemma.

I applied to several MA courses in product design and I am really motivated to do the MA. It will be a great qualification to teach at university level.

However, in my country, MA holders are looked down on and everyone in academia is pushing me to do a PhD. I don't really care for the PhD but it will come with status and benefits. A PhD is a research degree and I don't really care for doing research. I love teaching though.

What's your advise on what to do, an MA or a PhD?

Thanks.

Hanna
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PhoenixFortune
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(Original post by hbawab)
Hi everyone,

I need help with sorting out a dilemma.

I applied to several MA courses in product design and I am really motivated to do the MA. It will be a great qualification to teach at university level.

However, in my country, MA holders are looked down on and everyone in academia is pushing me to do a PhD. I don't really care for the PhD but it will come with status and benefits. A PhD is a research degree and I don't really care for doing research. I love teaching though.

What's your advise on what to do, an MA or a PhD?

Thanks.

Hanna
Are you looking at courses in the UK? If so, you can't always jump from undergraduate to PhD study without getting a masters degree first. It's more common in the sciences, but the Arts less so.
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hbawab
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Yes in the UK. I have a strong portfolio and work experience. Also a professor in the UK told me that I could apply for the PhD after seeing me portfolio.
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PhoenixFortune
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(Original post by hbawab)
Yes in the UK. I have a strong portfolio and work experience. Also a professor in the UK told me that I could apply for the PhD after seeing me portfolio.
Ah I see, well there's nothing stopping you from applying for both types of courses. You just have to think about how you will fund each type.
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hbawab
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(Original post by PhoenixFortune)
Ah I see, well there's nothing stopping you from applying for both types of courses. You just have to think about how you will fund each type.
Yeah my issue is with deciding which one to do if I get in both.
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polscistudent
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There may be some disciplinary differences, but university positions tend to require a PhD. And there isn't really the idea of teaching without research at the university level. Without pursuing research you would be outdated soon enough and wouldn't be able to teach at the forefront of your discipline.
Also, the point of universities is to create new knowledge. If you only like the idea of teaching you could consider secondary education!
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hbawab
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(Original post by polscistudent)
There may be some disciplinary differences, but university positions tend to require a PhD. And there isn't really the idea of teaching without research at the university level. Without pursuing research you would be outdated soon enough and wouldn't be able to teach at the forefront of your discipline.
Also, the point of universities is to create new knowledge. If you only like the idea of teaching you could consider secondary education!
That is not correct. Most course leaders of the MA courses that I applied to are MA holders themselves.

I understand and appreciate the need for research but without teachers at university level students won't learn.
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PhoenixFortune
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(Original post by hbawab)
That is not correct. Most course leaders of the MA courses that I applied to are MA holders themselves.

I understand and appreciate the need for research but without teachers at university level students won't learn.
Are you planning to work as a lecturer in the UK? If so, polscistudent is right, you will find it near impossible to find a lecturing role which has no element of research included in it (whether you hold a PhD or not). Most lecturing roles in the UK will require you to have a PhD, or be currently working towards one.
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hbawab
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(Original post by PhoenixFortune)
Are you planning to work as a lecturer in the UK? If so, polscistudent is right, you will find it near impossible to find a lecturing role which has no element of research included in it (whether you hold a PhD or not). Most lecturing roles in the UK will require you to have a PhD, or be currently working towards one.
All course leaders I have been in contact with in the UK are MA holders. Your information is not accurate.
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PhoenixFortune
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(Original post by hbawab)
All course leaders I have been in contact with in the UK are MA holders. Your information is not accurate.
I said most, not all, but that doesn't mean you'd be a competitive applicant if you only hold a MA. As I say, they could be working towards a PhD right now.

Mr Wednesday - advice needed here please
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hbawab
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(Original post by PhoenixFortune)
I said most, not all, but that doesn't mean you'd be a competitive applicant if you only hold a MA. As I say, they could be working towards a PhD right now.

Mr Wednesday - advice needed here please
Phoenix, maybe it's different in the design field because I have seen in 3 continents MA holders are considered professors. I have an MEng but since I switched fields to design I don't know whether to get another master's or go for the paper pretty much and go for a PhD. Trust me 90% of PhD holders have some it for the paper and not really because they are good at research. My dilemma is whether to go for the paper and be regarded higher or do what I am passionate about and do the master's. I guess it is not straight forward. Thank you for your input.
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Mr Wednesday
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(Original post by PhoenixFortune)
I said most, not all, but that doesn't mean you'd be a competitive applicant if you only hold a MA. As I say, they could be working towards a PhD right now.

Mr Wednesday - advice needed here please
So this is going to depend on your target institution and field. Pretty much any academic position in the UK will attract seriously impressive candidates with a PhD, strong publication list, some teaching track record and most likely PhD supervision and some personal grant awards, in just about any discipline I know of its hyper competitive. The upper end of the RG will also be fully international when they recruit, and the above is the minimum ask and generally beaten by someone who has also been awarded a 3-5 year merit fellowship and begun to establish their own research group.

Now it may be that the OP is in an odd niche discipline where things are dominated by people with industry experience rather than a PhD, but I think the OP really needs to identify what their ideal target university would be (in the UK or elsewhere) and take a serious look at the formal qualifications and “other stuff” that staff have, particularly focusing on heads of group etc as those are the people that are climbing the ladder.

Note that some institutions recruit aspiring academics with low-end qualifications and no realistic chance of gaining a permanent position for short term teaching only contracts. Generally with terrible recognition of the real time taken to prepare and mark outside of live contact hours, and no resources for research. Beware of those.
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PhoenixFortune
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(Original post by Mr Wednesday)
So this is going to depend on your target institution and field. Pretty much any academic position in the UK will attract seriously impressive candidates with a PhD, strong publication list, some teaching track record and most likely PhD supervision and some personal grant awards, in just about any discipline I know of its hyper competitive. The upper end of the RG will also be fully international when they recruit, and the above is the minimum ask and generally beaten by someone who has also been awarded a 3-5 year merit fellowship and begun to establish their own research group.

Now it may be that the OP is in an odd niche discipline where things are dominated by people with industry experience rather than a PhD, but I think the OP really needs to identify what their ideal target university would be (in the UK or elsewhere) and take a serious look at the formal qualifications and “other stuff” that staff have, particularly focusing on heads of group etc as those are the people that are climbing the ladder.

Note that some institutions recruit aspiring academics with low-end qualifications and no realistic chance of gaining a permanent position for short term teaching only contracts. Generally with terrible recognition of the real time taken to prepare and mark outside of live contact hours, and no resources for research. Beware of those.
PRSOM.

This is what I was trying to say OP (which Mr Wednesday said better than I could!). Presumably you want to look for academic jobs in the UK after whichever qualification you do, so it's definitely worth following the advice above.
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Helloworld_95
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(Original post by Mr Wednesday)
Now it may be that the OP is in an odd niche discipline where things are dominated by people with industry experience rather than a PhD, but I think the OP really needs to identify what their ideal target university would be (in the UK or elsewhere) and take a serious look at the formal qualifications and “other stuff” that staff have, particularly focusing on heads of group etc as those are the people that are climbing the ladder.
To add onto this, if the academic side is filled with people with industrial experience then they should consider where they're going to get that industrial experience from. They say that MAs are looked down upon in their own country which would imply that it would be difficult to get industrial experience as an MA holder, whereas PhD holders seem to do alright so that would indicate that a PhD is still better. And if they end up going back to their country to work in academia then it's pretty clear that they need a PhD.

At the same time, if you don't want to do research or a PhD then don't do it. It's 3-4 years of pretty gruelling work and high risks of mental health problems that you really need a passion for in order to get through.
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hbawab
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(Original post by Helloworld_95)
To add onto this, if the academic side is filled with people with industrial experience then they should consider where they're going to get that industrial experience from. They say that MAs are looked down upon in their own country which would imply that it would be difficult to get industrial experience as an MA holder, whereas PhD holders seem to do alright so that would indicate that a PhD is still better. And if they end up going back to their country to work in academia then it's pretty clear that they need a PhD.

At the same time, if you don't want to do research or a PhD then don't do it. It's 3-4 years of pretty gruelling work and high risks of mental health problems that you really need a passion for in order to get through.
Indeed this is my dilemma, on the one hand I want the status that comes with a PhD however I don't care much for the research. I am so motivated to do the master's degree and I feel like I can't wait to do it.

My mental health is also my concern because there was a period when I wasn't feeling well and I am worried that it will play a part if I end up doing a PhD that I really don't care much for.

It's not an easy decision. I don't want to feel like I am not a driven person if I don't go for a PhD and I am worried that it will signal to universities here in Jordan that maybe I am not a serious person especially that 95% of people who get a PhD here do it for the money and status and not really to seek knowledge.

Thank you for your input.
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polscistudent
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If you don't want to do a PhD, don't do a PhD. A PhD is tough, for real. And it takes time, for real. You know you want to do a MA and you know you don't want to do a PhD. Then do the MA, it's not a tough choice. A desire for research before a MA doesn't necessarily mean you won't like research afterwards. If that's the case, then you'll apply for a PhD after your MA, and you'll have a MA and PhD (which is, by the way, the normal for academics). If you still have no taste for research after your degree, then apply for teaching positions. If you find a position at university, then great.

But beware that universities need people who are able to teach and do research. It may be not true now for a few niche fields, but I'd say it's unlikely not to go in that direction in the future. So not holding a PhD might mean a capped career (again there are disciplinary differences, although a common career trajectory among disciplines). But the point is that pursuing a PhD at a top university would be nearly impossible if you are not dedicated to research. And a PhD from a non-top university would still not help you much in the hyper competitive academic job market (again, there may be disciplines or disciplinary sub-fields that have less competitive job markets or slightly different career requirements, but academia is moving in the direction of hyper competitive positions with lots of requirements and little security).
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hbawab
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(Original post by polscistudent)
If you don't want to do a PhD, don't do a PhD. A PhD is tough, for real. And it takes time, for real. You know you want to do a MA and you know you don't want to do a PhD. Then do the MA, it's not a tough choice. A desire for research before a MA doesn't necessarily mean you won't like research afterwards. If that's the case, then you'll apply for a PhD after your MA, and you'll have a MA and PhD (which is, by the way, the normal for academics). If you still have no taste for research after your degree, then apply for teaching positions. If you find a position at university, then great.

But beware that universities need people who are able to teach and do research. It may be not true now for a few niche fields, but I'd say it's unlikely not to go in that direction in the future. So not holding a PhD might mean a capped career (again there are disciplinary differences, although a common career trajectory among disciplines). But the point is that pursuing a PhD at a top university would be nearly impossible if you are not dedicated to research. And a PhD from a non-top university would still not help you much in the hyper competitive academic job market (again, there may be disciplines or disciplinary sub-fields that have less competitive job markets or slightly different career requirements, but academia is moving in the direction of hyper competitive positions with lots of requirements and little security).
I totally understand and respect the work of PhDs to do research and it is crucial for creation of knowledge as you said before. Having said that I observed that many leading universities in the design field are conferring the title of professors to MA holders. I have seen that in many leading universities.

I wouldn't mind being the right hand of a PhD professor in my field and help in research but it feels to me to not be very practical. I mean after all it is a degree in philosophy not in the respective fields of people working on it. For me it doesn't mean much to read a paper in design. I get that nowadays some PhDs are granted for practical work and they are designated as DDes or JD etc.

One other obstacle is that I am applying for the Chevening scholarship from the UK's Foreign Office and they oblige students to go back to their home country for 2 years after the 1 year MA, so if I like the idea of a PhD while doing the MA it won't work because I would have to end up going back to my home country for 2 years.
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(Original post by hbawab)
I totally understand and respect the work of PhDs to do research and it is crucial for creation of knowledge as you said before. Having said that I observed that many leading universities in the design field are conferring the title of professors to MA holders. I have seen that in many leading universities.

I wouldn't mind being the right hand of a PhD professor in my field and help in research but it feels to me to not be very practical. I mean after all it is a degree in philosophy not in the respective fields of people working on it. For me it doesn't mean much to read a paper in design. I get that nowadays some PhDs are granted for practical work and they are designated as DDes or JD etc.

One other obstacle is that I am applying for the Chevening scholarship from the UK's Foreign Office and they oblige students to go back to their home country for 2 years after the 1 year MA, so if I like the idea of a PhD while doing the MA it won't work because I would have to end up going back to my home country for 2 years.
The professor part in particular is somewhat complicated because of how the academic titles work in the UK. You generally won't become a professor until 20 years post PhD. A lot has changed regarding who they hire in those 20 years and so it's not really representative. You really want to be looking at the qualifications of lecturers or even Research Fellows/whatever they're called at each university.

As for Chevening scholarships, the requirement to return is not necessarily a hard requirement, but you would need to take the risk that you will still need to return if you don't get exempted through the handful of reasons where you're allowed to stay in the UK.
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polscistudent
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I have no idea about the Chevening requirements, but it would be worth checking whether the requirement would waived or postponed in case of a successful PhD application. Again, I know nothing about the scholarship, but it might be worth asking as the PhD is a peculiar path. And two years is not a lifetime. If you discover a passion of research you might still get work practice in your country and then go back to the UK (or another country) for your PhD. Or, if you intend to work in Jordanian universities, you might want to do a PhD directly in Jordan.
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hbawab
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(Original post by polscistudent)
I have no idea about the Chevening requirements, but it would be worth checking whether the requirement would waived or postponed in case of a successful PhD application. Again, I know nothing about the scholarship, but it might be worth asking as the PhD is a peculiar path. And two years is not a lifetime. If you discover a passion of research you might still get work practice in your country and then go back to the UK (or another country) for your PhD. Or, if you intend to work in Jordanian universities, you might want to do a PhD directly in Jordan.
The design field I am in is not available in Jordan. I am also what they call a "mature" student haha. I am in my late 30s so taking my time to know whether I live research or not is not too feasible.
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