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How essential is your degree type (BS, MS, Phd) in the research field?

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I would like to know how the different degree types could impact my role in the research field. Is there an incentive to continuing my education past a bachelor's degree? #science #research #biochemistry #laboratory #lab-technician

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Keith’s Answer

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Hi Bryan,


If you want to perform research at the highest level, a PhD is essential. The process of obtaining a PhD centers around doing research, while obtaining a BS or MS degree will consist primarily or entirely of coursework. Leading a research group, as most professors do, requires a PhD.


Having said that, there are also roles for BS and MS holders in research, especially in industry. These roles may not have as much research or as advanced as academic positions, but can also be a better fit for many people.


If possible, you may want to seek out a professor in your university and ask if you can work part time in their lab. This will help you get a taste of what research is like. You can also meet some PhD students and ask them about their research. Be advised, they may be a bit jaded, as obtaining a PhD is hard work, but generally PhD students love doing science.


Keith

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Thomas’s Answer

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Hi Bryan,

It depends on what your goals are. If you want to continue to work at the bench for a living, a BS is all you need. I know many people that do this and are happy, but you will be limited in how much you can move up in status. If you just want to do science for a living, which some people do, then I would suggest that. If you think that you want to run a lab, I would suggest going for a PhD. It is a much longer, harder path, but it can be very rewarding. One thing that I found useful is after I got my BS, I worked in a few different labs, both in industry and academics. This exposed different work environments to me and made my decision easier. I wanted to be able to learn as much as I could and teach the next generation skills that I obtained. I also get to discover things that no one else has known before which is pretty cool too. I find it very rewarding, but like I said, it is a much longer, harder path to get there and it's not for everyone, including a lot of people with PhDs. PhDs are not handed to you and so if you want it, you need to be there for the right reasons. Money is not a right reason. Learning more and/or wanting to teach is.


Hope this is helpful,

Tom

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Kathryn’s Answer

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You can sometimes get a job in research with a masters degree, but to be respected and considered a "principal investigator", I have found it necessary to have a PhD with expertise in a particular area.

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Joanna’s Answer

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It really depends on what type of research and the company. Generally the higher the degree, the more opportunities you have since you have studied more. However, I find a lot of opportunities are at the MA level with a lot of companies.
Work experience is helpful as well. Doing vollunteer work or starting to work in that field will give you hands on experience that companies look for as well.
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