Forum:Does it matter where I get my PhD? I am currently a masters student.
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12 weeks ago
nickroseae ▴ 10

Edit: To clarify, I plan on studying bioinformatics no matter where I decide to get my PhD. I only mean I have a special interest in bioinformatics relevant to infectious disease and immunology, however I still find general human genomics interesting. I am a MS student at UCSC in Bioinformatics. It is an algorithm heavy program, which I enjoy. I plan on applying to PhD programs next year, and will apply to the one at UCSC, as well as some other schools. I like this school, however I have a particular passion for infectious and emerging disease, and not many professor here study that. I was wondering if I should just transfer to the PhD program now, which is pretty common. It would save me time and money that would go toward my MS, and I've already spoken with some professors who would be open to working with me. I would also not have to TA anymore. Is it worth it to finish my MS so I can apply to other schools, or should I just make the program switch and save myself the stress of applying again? Will it be more competitive to find professors who want to work with me at other schools? Does what I study for my PhD actually matter or are the skills I develop more important for getting jobs.

advice PhD Masters • 608 views
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To add, I just got a publication from my undergrad, and was planning on doing research throughout my MS, although TAing is burning me out. Switching to a PhD now could save me 10,000 dollars, but I'm not really crazy about Santa Cruz, a bit of a tourist town with high cost of living and not a lot of ethnic diversity.

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Also, I hope to pursue mostly dry lab research, and enjoy writing software.

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Please edit the original post and perhaps add all of this information in original post. Any additional information should be added as comments since SUBMIT ANSWER is used for new answers to the original question/post.

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Can you also provide information on a long term objective for your career? Do you wish to remain in academia, go to industry or do something completely different after your PhD since it appears that you have decided to do one. If getting a good job is your main objective then with your informatics/programming skills you may already be well marketable after your complete your MS.

If you would be close to completing your MS by the time you are admitted to a PhD program then you should definitely complete your MS.

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Also while I am considering academia, I understand that is it very competative, so I am open to jobs in industry of public health as well.

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12 weeks ago
Mensur Dlakic ★ 15k

Asking Does it matter where I get my PhD? is like asking Does it matter where I eat my dinner?. If you are not picky and you are looking at dinner only as nourishment, then it doesn't matter. Similarly, if you are only looking to get a PhD as means to making more money, then it doesn't matter much where you get it. (Beware, a Cornell degree recipient will likely earn more money than its counterpart from the University of Southern Mississippi.)

For someone changing research direction as dramatically as you plan to, it may be better to do it sooner rather than later. That said, it also matters how many semester are left in your MS degree. If you could get it by next May, even by next December, it may be worth going for the MS because you could eventually have degrees in two different fields, which will secure you a checkmark in the versatility column. These may not even be mutually exclusive: if the overlap is not larger than one semester, you can start early on your PhD and still complete MS in parallel. But yes, it will cost you extra money.

As to moving or not, I hear mostly good things about Santa Cruz. Still, you are the one who has to weight the pros and cons of a relatively straightforward process if you stay at UCSC versus your desire to move (or at least your lack of enthusiasm for staying in SC). Getting a PhD takes a while and is almost never a smooth sailing, so it is important to work with good people and live in a place you like.

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I am just starting my MS, I can finish in a year but am adding a year of pure research at the end while I apply to PhD programs.