Going for Masters or Ph.D while working

How many others here have done it? Did you get an immediate bump in salary and position or did you have to change employers once you completed? Was it worth it to you in retrospect? Please list what your degree was in as I’m sure this varies from medicine to art. Any advice for someone in the middle of a masters in engineering considering going the Ph.D route? I’m kinda thinking (masters plus MBA) or Ph.D at this point.

My PhD program won’t allow us to work outside of the program, even if we were stupid enough to want to. My brother, OTOH, had his Master’s paid for by his employer, who then bumped his salary upon completion. YMMV. I’m in biology; he’s in mechanical engineering.

PhD programs in engineering are full time jobs. They come with a salary and benefits, and they expect you to work forty or more hours per week. You can’t do it while working somewhere else.

Sorry for being unclear. I work full time during my masters now. No way would I attempt to work full time during a Ph.D. I would take a few years off work for that. I am kind of in the air now weather I do a thesis for potential Ph.D down the road or just do a non-thesis masters.

I am working full time and doing my MA right now (just finished year one). It’s a thesis based Masters.

My employer is paying for my tuition and books, and I expect a pay grade and salary raise once I’m done.

Oh, sorry, my MA is in Environmental Management.

My employer, while paying for my MBA, has been very upfront in communicating that there are no guarantees of salary increase or anything like that upon completion. I figure if nothing else it at least enhances my own marketability.

So you get a PhD. Then what?

It can be more than a few years off - 6 is common for a US PhD in my field (chemistry). Big undertaking - depending on the lab the work ranges from hard to brutally hard.

A facet of the PhD that doesn’t get emphasised as much is that it’s a superb environment to develop entrepreneurial thinking - which is more relevant these days now that career tracks are less defined than they used to be. You’re trying to get research ideas off the ground as part of your thesis afterall - the lab is quite an entrepreneurial environment if you’re prepared to study how it works.

I mostly completed my Masters in Mechanical Engineering while working- my employer paid for it as long as I got Bs or better (necessary for most grad schools I think) it took 4 years and was very challenging. Unfortunately I was laid off a semester before I finished (stayed at the school on my own dime), but the message I got was that it was financially better to quit, spend two years on the degree (pay for it yourself if you have to) and come back- that the salary increase for new hires was so much bigger than the raise for getting your masters that it was financially better in the long run. Also, depending on your workplace, mandatory and sometimes unplanned travel can make it difficult to take exams.

Now I’m in a PhD program and absolutely could not work at another job concurrently. The only people I know who have done that successfully work at research labs where their full-time job was the same project as their PhD thesis. Even then, it may be tough to juggle just the classwork.

Oh, there was one other guy who got his PhD the year before he retired, after working on it for something like 20 years.

Ph.D is a full-time job or a decade-long experience. I’d prefer the former over the latter, frankly.

The Masters can be done while working, but I wouldn’t really want to. It depends what kind of work you’re talking about. I’m working as a research assistant. The pay is good but the hours are only so-so. Pays for the school, I guess.

I did my Masters while working, but by the time I finished I had been promoted about 4 levels above where it would have made any difference. HOWEVER, it did greatly increase my “technical prestige” within the company, led to more project work, and eventually led to a serious promotion, 9 years later.

I didn’t do it, but two people who worked for me did - one got a Masters the other got a PhD - and a real one. It is not easy, but it can be done. People generally work full time on PhDs to support themselves - in these cases the company paid tuition and they had living money from their jobs.

The guy who got a Masters was then easily eligible for the next job level. They guy who got a PhD had a masters already and was eligible for everything, but I think he felt himself then at a par with all the other people in the group who had PhDs.

I got my PhD the normal way, and it was a lot easier for me than for them. I truly respect those who do this - it takes a lot of initiative and gumption.

Times change, but when I was in grad school in early 60s, there was a guy who got a PhD in math working full time as a supermarket checkout clerk. Amazing. I have no idea where he wound up.

I got my MS in electrical engineering while working full-time. Took classes in the evenings. My employer paid for it.

I only took one or two classes a year, so it took around 8 years to get my degree. Even though I didn’t see much of a bump in my salary, I’m still glad I have it.

Did a full time masters in International Development while working full time. It was an exercise in extreme time management, but I made it through. Weekends were basically “wake up at 8 AM and work until midnight, with two one-hour breaks.” A single person can do it, but I have no idea how you’d manage with a family.

I went for my Masters Degree while working. I was able to get some time off for two semesters I think. My work paid for tuition. A Masters could allow a bump in promotion but I was above the paygrade line for awarding it so I didn’t get anything.

And honestly, I regretting doing the Masters program every semester I was doing it, but I appreciated it afterwards. I think everyone who pursued a Masters at my job felt the same way. I started it when I was 40 and it certainly seems harder if you’re older and working.

Doing my Masters while working full time now. It sucks occasionally, but I’m taking my sweet time with it so I don’t lose my mind. Various co-workers are doing the same thing, at usually faster rates of progress, and they are all visibly insane from overwork, so I think I made the good decision here. I also know that if I had any kids, there is no way on earth I would have ever managed it, going slow or not.
I do not get any help for the expenses, but I will be getting a raise once I’m done. I would not have done this otherwise, as it’s expensive as all hell.

I am planning to retire into teaching, so once I get my raise I will be working til early/mid-retirement age, then getting my PhD at that point.

My family is good with keeping our marbles until quite late in life, so I figure a PhD program will be better than sudoku for keeping my brains in good working order, then I can be a crochety old library professor on someone’s computer.

Lasciel - Library Science.