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Vicki D Said,
May 10th, 2011 @2:53 am  

A typical Masters degree will take about two years. A PhD takes a lot longer.

A Masters degree requires either a Thesis or a major project, depending on your program of study. A PhD requires a dissertation which is an original piece of research that is intended to add to the knowledge base in your field. Basically, it is a book that follows a specific format.

You don’t have to have a Masters degree to pursue a PhD, though most PhD programs will apply your Masters courses to your PhD program if they are in the same or related fields.

On the other hand, you can start a PhD program and decide to earn a Masters along the way.

A Masters degree will be sufficient for most career fields. A PhD is necessary if you want to pursue a career in scholarship (e.g. you want to be a researcher or a professor).

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OrangeKitten Said,
May 10th, 2011 @3:26 am  

Generalizing basically, Ph.D is a research level degree. But not all masters are research level, a lot of them are practicum-based degrees. This means in a masters program you may not be exposed to high level research methods and theory. But in a Ph.D program you definitely will. In turn, this means higher expectations from a Ph.D student. Admissions reflect this as they are stringent on the quality of incoming students. Masters programs tend to be a bit more lax by comparison. Ph.D programs are also very small, even very large schools will often only take a small handful of Ph.D candidates per year within a department. Because they are so small, majority are offered full tuition waivers. Generally one pays out of the pocket for a masters, however.

As far as ‘how many’ degrees you should have racked up before applying for a Ph.D, there is no real answer. Your application is based on many factors which includes your undergrad coursework, GPA, research experience (if any), work experience, graduate test score exams (very important in all programs), and meaningful letters of recommendation. Different programs stress different things. Having earned a previous masters will definitely help bolster your application if you’re a little weak in some areas highlighted above, but it’s not necessarily ‘required’ per-se.

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