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Topic: Does phD rank matter in industry?  (Read 3790 times)

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Offline Bioinorganic78

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Does phD rank matter in industry?
« on: June 08, 2015, 09:02:28 PM »
Does the rank of the university you get your phD at matter at all in industry?

      I am a good student, good grades with research and first author publication in the works, and my adviser believes I have a shot at top 5 schools. However all the schools I am considering are ranked 40 and below, one of the schools I am really considering is in the 80s. My adviser is making it seem like its only worth it to attend the top schools, but I am not seeing that. Isn't it more important the work I do then the name of the place on the degree? I have heard in academia that university rank can have a big effect, but I haven't heard if that is the same way in industry. At this point i am considering inorganic/bioinorganic chemistry if that changes anything.   

Online Corribus

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Re: Does phD rank matter in industry?
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2015, 10:09:21 PM »
To get a position in academia, I'd say a qualified "yes". To get a position in industry, I'd say probably not.
My advice would be to get in the best program you can get into where there's at least two people who are doing something you're interested in. Also, keep in mind that an overall rating doesn't mean much because chemistry is a very broad discipline and no university is the best at everything. For instance, MIT or Harvard may be the best rated programs in the country but if I wanted to go somewhere for polymer science, I'd probably strongly consider the University of Akron, which almost certainly doesn't show up on any "Top 10 Chemistry Programs" list. It all depends on what you really want to do, and going to a school just because it earned a high ranking in US News and World Report doesn't make a whole lot of sense if nothing being done there interests you. One other final thing to consider: my perception is that the higher ranked the program, the more fundamental it is in the type of research that is being done there. Industry typically involves very applied science. So you may actually find that the higher rated programs actually prepare you worse for a job in Industry than some programs that are more geared toward applied chemistry. You'll find the latter at the big state schools, that offer focuses in polymer science, food science, analytical chemistry, agricultural science, and so forth - disciplines that can be hard to find at the so-called elite universities. I don't think that's a hard and fast rule, but it's something to consider.

Btw, I'm not out to knock the top tier universities. There's a reason they are rated well. Your decision just needs to be contextualized for your personal plans. In other words, rating is just a number and just because a school is regarded as "The Best" doesn't mean it's the best choice for you.
What men are poets who can speak of Jupiter if he were like a man, but if he is an immense spinning sphere of methane and ammonia must be silent?  - Richard P. Feynman

Offline Arkcon

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Re: Does phD rank matter in industry?
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2015, 06:48:01 AM »
A manager once confided in me that, for the major pharmaceutical company I was temping at, the rank of the university did matter quite a lot.  They often wouldn't even consider a chemist from a lower ranked school for upper level positions -- I'm not talking about laboratory position or lab supervisor positions, but instead middle management and vice president level positions.  For someone who isn't from an ivy-league school to get an upper level position like that, it isn't based on proving your merit -- someone above actually has to call in all their favors for you.

This was pretty shocking for me, or at least, surprising that he'd talk about it so frankly with me.  Usually a company wants to claim this sort of thing is not the case.
Hey, I'm not judging.  I just like to shoot straight.  I'm a man of science.

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Re: Does phD rank matter in industry?
« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2015, 06:59:35 AM »
Well, I stand corrected then. :)
What men are poets who can speak of Jupiter if he were like a man, but if he is an immense spinning sphere of methane and ammonia must be silent?  - Richard P. Feynman

Offline Bioinorganic78

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Re: Does phD rank matter in industry?
« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2015, 10:06:47 PM »
I think basing a hire solely on rank of the school which the degree is from is absurd. I would much rather have someone from a low or no rank school who achieved a lot than someone from an ivy league who did the bare minimum. Its unfortunate that some pharmaceutical companies operate as Arkcon said.

Corribus, that is exactly the mindset I have. I would much rather go to a bottom ranked school that i am happy at then go to a top tier school i dont like just because its ranked high. It seems like a lot of people base where they want to go solely or majorly on rank.

Offline orgo814

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Re: Does phD rank matter in industry?
« Reply #5 on: July 04, 2015, 07:57:30 PM »
To be completely honest, US News ranks their programs for chemistry based on a survey where they circle 1 through 5 (or something like that) based on how they think the program is. Not very good of a procedure IMHO. I'm sure the large research universities prefer people from top ranked programs but I'm sure it's possible to get professorships at smaller universities/colleges if you're not from a top ranked program. What really matters in my opinion is how good of a researcher you are which can be judged by your number of publications, things like that. I could be wrong but why would you want someone from an Ivy League who only has half the number of publications and research quality than someone from a lower ranked school.

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