Deciding Between Master’s & Ph.D. Degree

Deciding Between Master’s & Ph.D. Degree

Deciding Between a Master’s or Ph.D. Degree

Many students do not know that they are not required to have a master’s degree to apply to many Ph.D. programs in the United States.

Students ask, “I’m applying to graduate school and need a full scholarship. Should I look at master’s or doctoral programs, or does it matter?”

A full scholarship is possible at either level but is substantially more likely at the doctoral level. It is not uncommon for doctoral programs in certain fields to fully fund every student that they accept.

Before deciding to go for the doctorate, however, there are some other issues that you need to consider—

—Generally U.S. doctoral programs focus on academic research. Often they are intended to prepare future university faculty. Is this type of career of interest to you? Do you like doing research and is it a strength of yours?

—Are you a strong enough candidate to be accepted at the doctoral level? Typically far fewer students are accepted at the doctoral level than at the master’s level. If you are not a really outstanding student, then entering at the master’s level may give you the chance you need to prove yourself.

—How well does the program match your research interests and background?  A master’s program that’s a perfect fit for you is a better bet than a doctoral program where faculty don’t share your interests.

Explore university websites and contact departments of interest to get information on financial aid availability, as it can vary significantly from program to program and even year to year.

Listen Now: EducationUSA Iran Podcasts

EducationUSA Iran will be hosting periodic podcasts in mp3 audio file format.  These podcasts will include interviews with successful Iranian students, university professionals, credential specialists, and others whose stories and advice will be useful to you. Most podcasts will be available in Persian; however, some will be conducted in English.  Transcripts in both English and Persian will be available for all podcasts.

Our first podcast, titled "Student Interview, July 2008," is an interview with a mechanical engineering student named Azadeh who recently came to America from Iran. Azadeh describes how she reached her goal of U.S. study, covering everything from the application process to the visa interview and airport arrival.

Our next podcast is going to be with a credentials specialist who will provide Iranian students with tips on submitting documents to U.S. universities.

U.S. Visa Requirements: Intent to Return

Everyone applying for U.S. non-immigrant visas (including all visas granted for the purpose of U.S. study) is required to demonstrate an intention to return to his or her home country. The burden of proof is on the applicant to prove ties to the home country and establish what is called “non-immigrant intent.”

During your student visa interview, you will be asked whether you intend to return to your home country after your education. We hope the answer is an honest "yes." If so, you need to provide evidence to prove this.

For more information from the U.S. Department of State about the requirement to demonstrate ties to your home country click here.

Also, for some good information and recommendations, we would suggest reading Ten Points To Remember When Applying For A Non-Immigrant Visa (from NAFSA: Association of International Educators).

Creating a Résumé or Curriculum Vitae (CV)

Often graduate students need to have a résumé or curriculum vitae (CV) when applying to graduate programs. Although résumés are traditionally used for employment purposes, some graduate schools now require them as part of the application process. We’ve also heard of CVs or résumés being requested during some visa interviews.

The term “CV” will be most commonly used when you are being asked to outline your experience specifically for academic purposes. Unlike résumés, which are usually 1 to 2 pages in length, CVs are generally 2 to 4 pages long and include details on your publications, scholarly activities, and the like. With a CV you may also consider submitting such materials as a dissertation abstract, a statement of research interests, and/or a statement of teaching interests.

Résumés are typically focused on work experience and are most often requested by business schools and other professionally oriented programs. Look at specific application requirements and what fits with your own background best in deciding what you should send.

A few websites that provide more tips on how to create CVs/résumés specifically for application purposes are listed below—

Dartmouth College Career Services


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