I know it’s different in the Us/canada but still this baffles me. Like @chall, my PhD program requires a master’s degree for admittance (and it’s in the US). I originally chose to start with a master’s degree because I was switching between two physical science fields, and I wanted to give myself the chance to catch up in the new discipline. This explanation seems to satisfy the very few people who have ever asked me about my master’s degree, and why it’s from a different institution than my PhD. Many of the people who are really competitive for jobs in my field right now did a masters first. Having MS students seems like it would be perfect for faculty with specific short-term projects and the money to do them. Also, in my field the Cal State schools only offer a MS and there are some great professors at those schools to work with, many of whom send students to top PhD programs where they go on academic careers.

I applied for and entered a PhD program knowing I was going to only do a MS. I wanted to work at an R1 school and do a project where I could do amazing fieldwork. The prof I worked for thought I wanted a PhD until I told her after my first field season I wanted to go into industry all along. She was pissed, that I left (and that I now make more money than her), but I didn’t want to do a MS at a small school with less resources. Anon 12:34 – You are really selfish. I bet your former advisor doesn’t care that you make more money than she does, but does care that you lied for your own purposes. At least you got to do amazing fieldwork. Clearly that’s all that matters to you; not other people’s time, efforts, money, trust, whatever. If you ever grow up enough to regret what you did, I hope you will write to your former advisor and apologize for being so deceitful.

Anon@ 1:32: I published 2 papers with her based on this amazing fieldwork in china and we wrote a grant together to fund her group for the next 3 years based on our research. Now in industry I have been recruiting at the university for 10 years and have hire some of her former students. When I left she did not feel angry, just a little pissed that I chose to pursue industry over academics. If anyone needs to apologize, it is you for jumping to conclusions. I had a similar sense of the Anon 12:34’s comment. It sounded like “ha ha, I lied for my own selfish purposes and now my ex-advisor, who believed my lie, is jealous of my bigger salary.” Not nice. But it sounds like the complete story is not so bad. I wouldn’t mind having an MS student who wrote papers and proposals. In my department (in statistics) it’s harder for a borderline candidate to get admitted for a PhD already having a MS, because there isn’t a fallback position if they do badly.

Someone with just a BS can come in, find out that PhD research in this area is not for them, and leave with a MS. Someone who already has an MS, not so much. Yes, @9.18PM, it is best to have grad students in your department exactly where you want them so that they do their (and your) research: absolutely dependent on you for their position. God forbid you let in someone with “choices.” I think it is best to string them along a little, too, with funding, just so they know they’re not secure, and it could be gone at any time. Also, it helps to screen out confident, self-assured people who know their skills might be valid elsewhere. There is no reward for being honest. From my experience, I did masters in one field (nutrition) and then did Ph.D. Univ. Both the degrees were from U.S. Now, I am doing voluntary work (no pay-20 hrs per week) in other U.S. University for almost 6 months with not much job prospects (postdoc or industry in the near future). Being a non-immigrant, the chances are pretty low for me. I would say that when I joined the Ph.D. Nothing happened so far. I have two first author papers from Ph.D.

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