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Offline dipesh747

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PhD
« on: May 18, 2012, 07:26:39 PM »
From your experience, what do you think the pro's and con's are of doing a PhD ?

Offline ProfessorD

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Re: PhD
« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2012, 05:22:30 PM »
Pro's -

-With "Ph.D." at the end of your name, the sky is the limit.  People really do still respect those letters.
-You get to explore a problem that nobody else on this world understands as well as you do!
-You get ownership of your work.  By the end of your program you will be directing your own research and any employer who hires you will not only allow you, but EXPECT you to work on your own initiative.  It is a great feeling.
-If you work hard and are productive, even in graduate school you can be sent to conferences the likes of which no bench chemist would ever be sent to by a private company.

Con's -

-Years of lost income (your living stipend will be about 1/2 to 1/3 what you could make in industry).
-Five years without a continuous, 8 hour night's sleep (you will work many nights and weekends, I guarantee it)
-Cumulative exams *cringe*
-Five more years of Ramen noodles and Miller Lite in a can instead of a Five Guys burger and Sam Adams in a bottle.


I'm glad I got mine.  I sacrificed about $100,000 in potential income over five years spent in graduate school.  I have made that up in just about five more and the rest of my career will be gravy.  Having said that, don't do it 'for the money'.  Only do it if you really are passionate about scientific research or teaching.

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Offline zs3889

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Re: PhD
« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2012, 05:50:00 PM »
I understand the lost of income but wow, is it really that hard?? can't even have an 8 hour night sleep?

Now that you have graduated with a Ph.D, do you still have to work as hard as you did while doing your Ph.D? Are you a faculty in a university now? Or are you working in industry? What is the difference between being a faulty and working in industry? besides teaching.

I know that graduate students do get paycheck from the university that they are working at, roughly how much do they usually get annually? And last question, what are the cumulative exams that you mentioned?

I just finished my undergraduate, got a BS degree in chemistry, still deciding on my future plans.

Offline Dan

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Re: PhD
« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2012, 03:53:41 AM »
I understand the lost of income but wow, is it really that hard?? can't even have an 8 hour night sleep?

Depends who you work for. Some academics exploit students and treat them like slaves, forcing them to 70 hours a week etc. Others are perfectly reasonable and don't do this, you have to choose your supervisor carefully - and the choice depends on your personal priorities, do you want to work for the slave driving hot-shot chemist which will be horrible but great for the CV? Some do some don't, but you can choose.

You should expect a 50 hour week though.

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I know that graduate students do get paycheck from the university that they are working at, roughly how much do they usually get annually?

Depends on the country/city and the source of funding. It's quite variable.

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I just finished my undergraduate, got a BS degree in chemistry, still deciding on my future plans.

I would recommend a 1 or 2 year research masters before you commit to a Ph.D. I don't know if that option exists in the US (you've not said where you're from), but it is common in Europe. This will give you some lab experience and a feel for experimental research so you know whether you want to invest more time and money in a Ph.D. It also strengthens your grad school applications.
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Offline zs3889

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Re: PhD
« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2012, 10:30:31 PM »
I understand the lost of income but wow, is it really that hard?? can't even have an 8 hour night sleep?

Depends who you work for. Some academics exploit students and treat them like slaves, forcing them to 70 hours a week etc. Others are perfectly reasonable and don't do this, you have to choose your supervisor carefully - and the choice depends on your personal priorities, do you want to work for the slave driving hot-shot chemist which will be horrible but great for the CV? Some do some don't, but you can choose.

You should expect a 50 hour week though.

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I know that graduate students do get paycheck from the university that they are working at, roughly how much do they usually get annually?

Depends on the country/city and the source of funding. It's quite variable.

Quote
I just finished my undergraduate, got a BS degree in chemistry, still deciding on my future plans.

I would recommend a 1 or 2 year research masters before you commit to a Ph.D. I don't know if that option exists in the US (you've not said where you're from), but it is common in Europe. This will give you some lab experience and a feel for experimental research so you know whether you want to invest more time and money in a Ph.D. It also strengthens your grad school applications.


Thanks for your reply, anyway I am in the US. I am still struggling with my choices at the moment. I might just go ahead and apply for a phd program, get into it and start doing it. Here in the US, there are people who quit the phd program after ~2 years with their master degree, so thats common. I wouldn't wish to quit but that's not impossible to happen I guess, but of course my goal is to finish the program and graduate with a phd.

So I suppose you are somewhere from the Europe? Does anyone here care to provide me some suggestion or insight, or guide my through on how to begin my application for graduate schools? I have read a few article about this recently and consulted a few friends, but I wouldn't mind some extra information.  :) :)

Thanks!

Offline ProfessorD

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Re: PhD
« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2012, 08:10:22 AM »
If you have a specific interest, I would start by trolling the university chemistry department websites.  Many of them have faculty listings sorted by research interest.  When/if you find one that you like, don't be hesitant to email the professor or the department for more information.

If you have the financial means, apply... apply... apply!  Most large US universities have several recruiting weekends scheduled each spring.  They will bring applicants to town (sometimes at the department's expense!), schedule special poster sessions so you can see the research going on there and meet the faculty/students and even pick up the tab for meals and events.  It is a great experience and I recommend doing it every chance you get.  It will help you develop a sound understanding of the differences and similarities among programs and also help you to build a great network of faculty and students across the country with similar interests.

Also, the stipend you asked about is usually between 20k and 30k US dollars depending on the cost of living in the area of the school.  It is barely a living wage, but you are getting tuition paid on your behalf, so when you add in the value of the education you are receiving it is a pretty good deal!  In recent years, it has become more and more common that graduate students are also offering medical, dental and vision insurance while in school.  When you look at the bottom line, the stipend, education and benefits can add up decent compensation.
Good luck!

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Offline 408

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Re: PhD
« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2012, 02:30:56 AM »
I understand the lost of income but wow, is it really that hard?? can't even have an 8 hour night sleep?

That is such bull.  no phd position is worth that. I get 8 hours a night,and have a life beyond work

Offline OC pro

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Re: PhD
« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2012, 03:55:50 PM »
Here in Germany people get funded by the Universities (so-called "half-positions"). That means you have to support your Professor by giving seminar lessons and surveillance of students in practical courses. Salary is about 20000 EUR/year which is quite ok.
I got my Ph.D. in Natural Product Synthesis after 24 month in the lab getting 18 publications and 2 patents out of it. I worked very focused and concentrated on a 8am to 6pm basis. No weekends. Only 45min lunch break. My advantage was that I had a brand new lab with 2 Rotavaps and one Buechi Fraction collector on my own. 3 to 4 reactions including column chromatography was standard for me.

I do think 70+ hours in the lab is not normal as I also think the overall performance will not be better when someone is always working over the limit.

Looking back it was quite a wicked time...If you do have the possibility - take the chance!!

Offline Darren

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Re: PhD
« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2012, 09:38:32 PM »
What are the requirements for getting a phd? Must you discover a new substance or property or just carry out the research without much of a discovery? And what about material costs? Do you need to pay for the chemicals you use in the lab or is there unlimited usage of them? How long can getting a phd take if you dont discover any new discovery? Or is there a fixed time, lets say 5 years, that no matter how badly you do, you will still get your phd?

Offline fledarmus

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Re: PhD
« Reply #9 on: June 20, 2012, 08:34:07 AM »
You must prove that you can carry out a successful research program. That doesn't necessarily mean discovering a new substance or property, and I have certainly read the occassional thesis that didn't have much of a discovery, but in most places it's very difficult to get a PhD if your work isn't worth at least a couple of publications in peer-reviewed journals.

Material costs are typically paid by your research advisor, and he gets his money from grants and whatever funding the school provides. It is also possible for grad students to get their own grant money, but that is considerably rarer. At every school I've been to, each professor is finding their own funding for their research lab, and the number of grad students they have and the amount of new equipment and materials the grad students get to use is limited only by the professor's ability to find somebody to pay for it. The school typically provides space and a salary and access to nice tools that are paid for by grants directly to the school.

Time depends on your professor and on the school. Many grad schools have a time limit for getting a PhD, but you don't automatically get one. If you take too long, you get kicked out without one. From what I hear, 5 years of post-graduate work is about average for getting a PhD if you go directly to a PhD program from a bachelor's degree, 4 is a functional minimum (less in very exceptional cases), and 7 is pretty much too long, barring exceptional circumstances. At the end, you get your PhD if and only if you have a record of research (your thesis) that shows you have run a successful research program, and you can defend it orally in front of a committee of professors at your school.

Offline DrCMS

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Re: PhD
« Reply #10 on: June 20, 2012, 09:30:23 AM »
In the UK 3 years is the standard length of a PhD.

Offline Jasim

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Re: PhD
« Reply #11 on: June 20, 2012, 09:38:32 AM »
As I see it, a PhD is for someone who is really passionate about the field, someone who wants to push the boundaries of our understanding of the field. PhDs don't enjoy monetary profit that is relative to the hard work of obtaining a PhD, at least that is my opinion. Though there are some good jobs for PhDs out in the private sector, the best place seems to be either in an academic environment, or in venture startup with close academic associations.

If you absolutely Love learning about the field, want to gain an understanding in a highly specialized knowledge set in the field of choice, want to be a part of cutting edge research that may open new avenues of understanding in the field, and don't mind working long hours, having little job security, having little reward, constantly being plagued by insufficient funding, repeatedly facing rejections and failures after months of invested work, and receiving little or no recognition for successes, Then a PhD might be a good option for you.

If you want wealth, job security, versatility, and set working hours, then a masters degree would be a better option for graduate studies.


Offline Darren

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Re: PhD
« Reply #12 on: June 20, 2012, 10:25:56 AM »
As I see it, a PhD is for someone who is really passionate about the field, someone who wants to push the boundaries of our understanding of the field. PhDs don't enjoy monetary profit that is relative to the hard work of obtaining a PhD, at least that is my opinion. Though there are some good jobs for PhDs out in the private sector, the best place seems to be either in an academic environment, or in venture startup with close academic associations.

If you absolutely Love learning about the field, want to gain an understanding in a highly specialized knowledge set in the field of choice, want to be a part of cutting edge research that may open new avenues of understanding in the field, and don't mind working long hours, having little job security, having little reward, constantly being plagued by insufficient funding, repeatedly facing rejections and failures after months of invested work, and receiving little or no recognition for successes, Then a PhD might be a good option for you.

If you want wealth, job security, versatility, and set working hours, then a masters degree would be a better option for graduate studies.



Whats the masters degree for? Actually, ive not much of an idea of the path in university. Does anyone here have some kind of mind map or table or a list of all the options and paths to choose in university? Like if you take masters, what can you go for next and things of that sort. I would want to plan my path out and see which is most suitable for me :D and since its been my goal to get a nobel prize ever since 4 years ago, maybe a phd would be suitable so that it can lead up to further research :)

Offline fledarmus

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Re: PhD
« Reply #13 on: June 20, 2012, 11:00:21 AM »
In the UK 3 years is the standard length of a PhD.

Three years after a bachelors degree, or is a masters degree earned first? If three years is standard from a bachelors, then you must have very high entrance requirements! Usually the first year or two of a PhD program here is classwork - one year mostly a high level review to pass the PhD preliminary exams, then a second year before the qualifying exams and defense of a research proposal. Most people can't get enough research done in those first two years to get their thesis written by the end of the third..

The standard in the US used to be two years for a masters and usually two more to a PhD, but most schools have quit giving masters degrees to students in the PhD program. The masters degree is sort of the booby prize you get when you decide it isn't worth the effort to get the PhD.

Offline Dan

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Re: PhD
« Reply #14 on: June 20, 2012, 11:45:26 AM »
Three years after a bachelors degree, or is a masters degree earned first?

Usually you get a Master's first (1-2 years) (your application is less competitive without one), but it is possible to do a 3 year PhD straight from a 3 year batchelor. I have a friend who did this, though in virology not chemistry. Most respected undergrad chemistry courses in the UK are 4-5 years and incorporate a Master's. For example, Oxford only offer a 4 year course in chemistry, the result of which is an MChem - it is not possible to stop after 3 years and get a batchelor's.

Overrunning in the PhD is common, most people end up closer to 4 years than 3 in my experience. For me, undergrad was 4 years, PhD was 3.5. So in total you're usually looking at 7-8 years total of university education to get a PhD in the UK.

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Usually the first year or two of a PhD program here is classwork

There is not usually any classwork for PhD programs in the UK, you have to prove in interview that you are up to scratch. It is my understanding that undergraduate education in the UK is more focussed, so if you have a chem BSc from UK you are likely to have covered more chemistry than a chem BSc from the US (but less material from more diverse minors). 4 year PhD programs with one year of classes do exist, but usually for multidisciplinary programs where applicants come from a range of backgrounds and may need to be brought up to speed in some areas of the combined fields.

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The standard in the US used to be two years for a masters and usually two more to a PhD, but most schools have quit giving masters degrees to students in the PhD program. The masters degree is sort of the booby prize you get when you decide it isn't worth the effort to get the PhD.

The difference in the UK is that a Master's is a separate program to the PhD, it's either a stand-alone course or part of an undergrad course. Having Master's does not indicate you dropped out of a PhD - if you quit the PhD you get nothing.
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