Masters VS PhD. Know the Differences

Graduate degrees are getting popular day by day. Now that having a graduate degree means one can have an increased chance of getting their preferred jobs, many students around the world are attempting to attain one, whether it’s a Master’s or a Doctorate. So, the question here rises, what should you aim for? Is it a Master’s or PhD.? Or, what will be more beneficial for you and in what way? 

To answer all of your questions we’ll talk briefly about both degrees to help you choose the right path. 

Before pursuing either of the degrees you must be aware of the fact that both of them require a commitment of time, energy and finances. Hence, you should not only look into the requirements of getting admitted into the programs, rather the requirements of completing each of the programs as well. For the basic overview of the requirements you can follow the chart below, 



Master’s Degree 

Doctorate Degree

Education Prerequisites 

Successful completion of a bachelor’s degree

Successful completion of a bachelor’s degree and in some cases a Master’s degree depending on the program.

Credit Hours 

36-54 hours 

58-120 hours

Program Culmination 

Capstone Course or Thesis 

Comprehensive exam and completion of a dissertation 

Time to Completion 

1-3 years

3-7 years


Now that you have a general overview, we should get into the differences in content and coursework in both degrees. 

A Master’s degree is designed to increase a student’s career oriented knowledge or skills. On the other hand, a Doctorate degree depends heavily on research in order to deepen the student’s critical research,analytical and writing skills. A doctorate degree aims to produce original knowledge to fill the knowledge gaps in a particular industry. So, the content and coursework of these two degrees are really different from each other. 

If we break down a Master’s degree we can get these three parts- 

Core Courses: These are the courses you have to complete in a Master’s degree. These are required to gain an advanced knowledge in your area of study and develop your industry expertise.

Electives: These are a selection of courses that can specialize your degree to a further extent. They can also be used to gain expertise in the related subject areas. 

Capstone Course or Thesis: This part of the Master’s degree allows you to conduct research and present its findings. 

However, in doctorate degree there are four crucial parts-

Coursework: Courses in the PhD program are required for passing your comprehensive exam. 

Research Core: These courses will grant you an opportunity to increase your essential research, analytical and writing skills, which are important to prepare you for completing your dissertation. 

Comprehensive Exam: This exam will test what you’ve learned through your coursework. It is a necessary step before moving into the dissertation. 

Dissertation: You have to choose your research topic and then after in-depth research, analysis, and writing you have to defend your research findings before the dissertation committee.

We’ve covered all the necessary distinctions, but you need to know what both of the degrees have to offer after the completion of them. It’s very important to have a clear idea about that if you want to decide which of the degrees are better for you. When it comes to the outcome of these degrees there are three factors that you need to look for, which are; skillset, career prospect and salary expectation. We’re gonna put some details on this matter. 

Skillset: Master’s degree mostly focuses on industry-specific skills. It can deepen your critical thinking and problem solving skills. While, on the other hand, doctorate degrees can enhance your research, analysis and writing skills. Moreover, it’s main goal is to develop transferable skills that can fill up the knowledge gaps in the industry. 

Career prospects: A Master’s degree is commonly known as a really career oriented degree. Therefore, it can help you if you’re aiming for management or leadership positions. A doctorate degree, being a research based degree, can help you if you’re planning to go into the academic path. Also, if you envision yourself in a top executive post, you can go for a doctorate degree. 

Income: Both Master’s degree and Doctorate degree can increase your income by a significant rate. According to the BLS, you can have 17% higher earnings with a Master’s degree, which isn’t possible with just a Bachelor’s degree. However, with a doctorate degree the percentage goes up to 30%. 

Both Master’s and Doctorate degrees are Lifetime achievements. Thoroughly research your field of study and the skills you have and want to gain in future before deciding what degree is best for you. You can even go for the PhD. degree after attaining the Master’s too. Go for the option that suits your future goals the best.

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