Advanced Degrees

A mother wrote to me: “My son is studying in the U.S. and will graduate this June. I want him to continue to get a higher degree. What does he need to do and what kind of advice could you give him?

Answer: Have you asked your son if he wants to continue his education or not? Does he have a Career plan? What does he want to do after graduation in June? I think he should decide whether to continue their education or not with clear career goals, NOT just to get another degree. If he wants to get a job, a bachelor’s degree is good enough. If he wants to have a specialized career, he may consider a Master’s degree. If he likes to do research and teach in college, then he needs a Ph.D. degree.

However, as a mother you need to know that the higher the degree, the lesser chance for him to get a job because there are more jobs that require a Bachelor degree but fewer for a Ph.D. Unless he get a Ph.D. from a top school, it is very difficult to find a college teaching job as there are many unemployed people with a Ph.D. degree. There are two different types of Master’s degree, a “Professional” Master’s degree where students are trained in specific skills so they can get a better job and a “Regular” Master’s degree so they can continue to a Ph.D. program.

Depending on his career goal, he needs to know what area that he wants to specialize in and decide whether he wants to get a master degree or a Ph.D. as it will affect his choice of the schools. Basically, after spending a lot of money for your son’s education, you want to make sure that he will be able to get a good position in his field. But your son needs to be clear about his future on what he wants to do with his career too.


  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University

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