What are the advantages of a masters degree instead of a Ph.D?
Interesting question. Off the top of my head I'm thinking that it's less school work and less debt for some. As for the actual degree, I think it would be on a case by case basis. An employer might higher the person with a master's degree so they s/he could pay him/her less money than the person with the doctorate. But then again, that's an advantage for the employer not the degree holder. I'm curious as to what others think.
I'll tell you that I haven't pursued either as of yet, but I have consulted with individuals who have because I do think of following this route sometime.
From the people I've talked to, it really depends on what you're going for. (I know you're a teacher). In that respect, a teacher friend of mine has stopped at her master's mainly for her own benefit of learning and the increased pay check. I had an amazing high school math teacher who could've easily gotten his Ph.D but chose to stick at a master's level because he felt it was too much work for very few benefits in his field and at his age.
Aside from that, in many liberal arts areas, you can't really do anything without a Ph.D, i.e. teach or other positions. However, in more hard scientific fields like engineering, I've heard that in terms of job prospects a master's with experience is even more valuable than a Ph.D and no experience. Your Ph.D may be unnecessarily focused for whatever work you're doing, or hey, they may need your Ph.D specialty.
A lot of it is a matter of time, stress, and money. Good luck with your decisions! I hope you pursue more education!
A master's degree usually takes less time, often a year, whereas a Ph.D. often takes 3 years or more. A master's degree is often taught, whereas a Ph.D. is generally NOT taught (though there may be taught components). A master's dissertation is not expected to be as long or comprehensive as a Ph.D. thesis.
I think the answer ultimately depends on what is the career path that you choose after pursuing masters degree or PhD.
If you want to become professors, principal investigator, research scientists, or specialized researcher in the industry, then getting a PhD can be the necessary prerequisite for those jobs. However, if you want to get some other jobs like teaching, business, finance, and other industry, then getting a PhD may be counter productive. Few of the reasons are the lack of training in professional skills for entering the job market, overqualified for jobs, etc.
Doing masters instead of PhD for those other jobs can be more advantageous. First, you'll only spend ~2 years in the university instead of 4-8 years. Second, it can give you more competitive edge in the crowd of degree holders, yet not being overqualified. Third, higher salary compared to degree holders. Fourth, you'll be more generalist rather than specialist (this can be both advantage and disadvantage). Fifth, less commitment and time needed in case you want to change your career.
I have some Hubs about PhD that you may want to read if you consider to get a PhD.
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