Usefulness of M.S. degree?

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Usefulness of M.S. degree?

Postby Tom » Sun Jan 16, 2005 1:36 am


I was wondering if you anyone could tell me how useful a M.S. degree in Biology would be in pursuing a career in industry (biotech/pharma). I've thought about it long and hard and I've heard many personal accounts from post-docs and grad students I have worked with and I'm pretty sure I don't want to pursue a Ph.D.

Also, I'm certain that path is not for me b/c I know my motivations. I have an "interest" for basic research (and am motivated and dedicated to see an experiment come into fruition), but definitely not the "passion" for discovery (doing science for the sake or science) or to make the necessary sacrifices (time, salary, social-life, family) that are needed to obtain a Ph.D.

Personally, I feel an M.S. degree is something only worth pursuing to have on your resume. Otherwise, a M.S. program will not add much to your ability as a scientist and definitely isn't as intensive a training as a Ph.D. program.

However, I do have working experience and have been a technician at one of the top cancer research institutes in the US w/ an established PI for a few years. So, unfortunately I have no real industry experience.

Any advice on pursuing a M.S. degree or getting a foot into industry w/out a Ph.D. would be appreciated.

Usefulness of M.S. degree?

Postby Emil Chuck » Sun Jan 16, 2005 10:10 am

I think having a master's is very useful, depending on what type of industry job you want. There are plenty of good jobs that need excellent technicians everywhere. I'd do a search based on the skills you know and find out what jobs there are. Even if the position says it requires a bachelor's degree, look and apply for it anyway (because in all likelihood, they'd prefer someone with a master's degree).
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Usefulness of M.S. degree?

Postby Tom » Sun Jan 16, 2005 7:13 pm

Thanks for replying Emil....

Would anyone also be able to tell me the hierarchy of positions for R&D in the biotech/pharma industry for those w/out a Ph.D.? I know the track looks something like:

-Research Technician
-Research Associate I & II
-Molecular Biologist (or something similar)
-Scientist (is it even feasible to reach this position w/out a Ph.D.)
-Lab Manager (needs Ph.D?)

Thanks. Also, I think we aren\'t allowed to talk about salaries on this mesg board, but where can I find info for the current average salaries for these positions?

Usefulness of M.S. degree?

Postby Jim Gardner » Mon Jan 17, 2005 2:36 pm

Job titles vary quite a bit by company. Read job descriptions carefully. At many companies a position called "Scientist" would probably be a non-PhD position, since the entry-level position for a PhD is often "senior scientist".

Salaries vary very widely by company type, geographic location, job title, job description, etc. Most salary surveys really won't give you a true picture of the salary situation relevant to your individual situation. Local networking and job advertisements could give you a better picture.

Good luck!

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Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:28 pm

From what I've seen...

Postby Bob » Wed Jan 19, 2005 12:02 am

it goes like this in the Pharma world on the west coast.

Reseach Assistant I (0-2yrs)
Research Assistant II (3-4yrs)
Associate Scientist I (5-6 yrs){M.S. starts here}
Associate Scientist II (7-8yrs)
Senior Associate Scientist I (9-12yrs)
Senior Associate Scientist II (13-16yrs)
Scientist I (17+ yrs){PhD starts here}

As for salaries, B.S. start at ~$25k, M.S. starts around ~$45k, Ph.D. starts around ~$70k. Add $10-15k if you have two years of on the job training before finishing those degrees OUTSIDE of those programs.

Hope that helps.

Usefulness of M.S. degree?

Postby Alfredo » Thu Jan 20, 2005 1:54 pm

It all depends on what part of the industry you work in. I have been in the Pharmaceutical Industry for 5.5 years now and I have a BS in Biology. I started in a small contract manufacturing company's R&D department as a technician and moved quickly to a scientist position. I went to a large GEneric company as a Scientist II and now am at an innovator as an Engineer II. So it all depends. I am making good money (will not post). I know others who only have a BS and are doing well. But if you have aspirations of getting into management with a BS degree you will have to seek out smaller companies. The experience you gain there might be enough to get into management in a large innovator company.

Hope this helps

Usefulness of M.S. degree?

Postby John Fetzer » Thu Jan 20, 2005 10:27 pm

The usefulness depends on the company's culture. In a company heavy in research PhDs, MS people are often viewed as second class until they prove their technical worth. This has been accentuated by the perception that many MS recipients got the consolation prize after not making the cut in a PhD program. Rightly or wrongly, many PhDs percieve that and so stigmatize an MS employee as not quite good enough.

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