Masters or PhD: Which is the Best Option for You?

Okoma V.
8 Min Read

Master’s degrees typically prepare you for a career outside of academia, whereas PhDs prepare you for a career in research.

However, you may wish to acquire one without necessarily getting the other. This is why this article will help you know which is best for you.


What is the Masters?

Though you will be taught units, a Master’s degree puts emphasis on the shift from simply learning about a subject to becoming an independent scholar and ‘Master’ of your field.

READ:  What is a Master of Research (MRes) Degree?

MA (Master of Arts), MSc (Master of Science), and MRes (Master of Research) degrees are the most common types of master’s degrees (Masters by Research).

Masters degrees are similar to undergraduate degrees in some ways; they are frequently taught courses (even research Masters will include taught units), and they normally include lectures, seminars, and lab sessions.


Read also: What is a Master of Research (MRes) Degree?

What is a PhD?

While Masters programs include a large number of taught modules, PhD programs are almost entirely self-contained.

You will be supervised by an expert and may complete some training through taught sessions. But, in reality, the emphasis is on your independent research.

READ:  What is a Master of Philosophy (MPhil) Degree?

And, while Masters courses help you advance your subject knowledge, the goal of a PhD is for you to contribute entirely new knowledge to your field.

Sometimes, it’s helpful to think of a PhD as a very long dissertation project.


How long Does it Take to Finish? (Masters or PhD)

PhD programs are usually 3 or 4 years long, but they can be longer. As a result, they necessitate a great deal of dedication and hard work over a much longer period of time than a Master’s degree.

For the Masters, on the other hand, you will have to achieve Mastery in a relatively short period of time, typically 1-2 years. In addition, rather than September to June, these academic years usually run from September to September.

READ:  Can I do MBA after MS

As a result, you’ll get more intensive training in a shorter amount of time over a ‘longer’ academic year.

Read also: Can I Get Ph.D Programs Without Masters?

Average Tuition Cost for Masters and PhD?

A Master’s degree typically costs between $30,000 and $120,000, depending on the school, major, and duration of the program. A Master’s degree costs an average of $66,340.


A Master of Education degree typically costs $55,200. Whereas, a Master’s degree in Arts typically costs $72,800 on average.

PhD tuition fees, however, vary, but typically range between £3,000 and £6,000 per year for students from the United Kingdom (UK) and the European Union (EU).

READ:  Studying for a Double Master's Degree

The UK Research Councils pay universities £4,327 per year on behalf of each funded PhD student, so this figure is a good indicator of the average.

Read also: Best Physics Master Degree in the USA

Difference Between Masters and PhD

If you know you are interested in postgraduate study, a the difference between Masters and PhD degree is a good ideology to compromise.


When Should I Go for a Masters?

In terms of prerequisites, you’ll typically need to have at least a bachelor’s degree in order to enroll in a master’s degree program. However, here are some other things to consider when choosing if masters is what you should go for.

READ:  What is a Master of Letters (MLitt) Degree?

When you definitely want to do a PhD

In some fields, such as the arts and humanities, a master’s degree is often required before beginning a PhD.

In other cases, having a Masters degree can significantly strengthen your application for a PhD (or for PhD funding). This is because you will have conducted independent research and demonstrated a dedication to your field.

It is easier to fund


Applying for a PhD is frequently far more competitive than applying for a Masters, especially if funding is at stake.

Anyway, the introduction of UK Masters and PhD loans has made both stages of postgraduate study much more attainable.

When you don’t want to do a PhD

READ:  Difference Between Undergraduate and Postgraduate Study

If you know you don’t want to do a PhD but are still interested in postgraduate study, a Masters degree is a good compromise.

You will take some taught modules, similar to your undergrad, but you will also have the opportunity to pursue your subject further and conduct independent research.


You don’t want to end up over-qualified

As previously stated, a doctorate is not required for every possible career. That’s fantastic if you’re enthusiastic about your subject.

However, don’t consider a PhD to be a necessary part of your professional development. Consider a Masters degree in relation to your personal and professional goals.

Read also: What is Advanced Degree: Q and A

READ:  What is Advanced Degree: Q and A

When Should I Go for a PhD degree instead?

A PhD requires a significant time commitment. But it’s also a thrilling challenge! Could you skip the Masters and go straight into doctoral research?


It is possible that you will not need to complete a Masters degree first.

After completing your undergraduate degree, it is common to pursue a PhD in a STEM field. This is due to the fact that the modes of inquiry for these subjects differ from those for, say, the Arts and Humanities.

You’ve already mastered the techniques for developing hypotheses and conducting experiments, so an extra year of study may not be necessary.

READ:  What is Master of Architecture (MArch)?

You can’t find a Masters degree in the field you want to work in.

If you’re interested in a particular niche subject, it’s possible that a suitable Masters degree isn’t yet available.


A PhD, on the other hand, is all about adding to your field’s knowledge. So, why not go out there and make it happen?

Read also: List of Top MSc Colleges in the World


Find a Masters



Education Data

Prep Scholar

Masters Portal

Editors Recommendation:


Share this Article
Leave a comment