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MS, Ph.D or Certificate after professional program? Industry with a public health mission?

PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2008 4:00 pm
by JR9260
*I have a whole bunch of questions below. Just a cautionary note, my post is VERY lengthy.*

Hi all,

I am in a science professional program and am thinking about what I should be doing after graduation (>2 years away). I have an inquisitive nature, and it seems to me my fellow classmates (sadly) don’t have as much of an appreciation of the material we are learning. I have thought about the area of scientific research before enrolling in this program, and now after learning the course material, I am eager to really try out the research arena of my field and apply what I know/learned.

The program that I am in allows me to take courses outside of my department. I want to make the most efficient use of my electives and resources while I am in my program. I have many questions brewing in my mind for a while now; I hope perhaps people on this forum could share their insight and help me out.

1. It is known that MDs could be scientific researchers without a research doctoral degree conducting bench research. I want to say while I am not in a medical program, I am pursuing a clinical professional degree. I am not sure if I am more interested in bench or clinical research, though as of this moment I am leaning towards bench. If I do go into bench research in a related area, is it a necessity that I pursue a MS or a Ph.D?

Since I do have the ability to take courses outside of my basic curriculum, I am thinking of enrolling in some graduate level classes in the same field. If I plan my schedule right, I could take the all core courses required of the M.S. requirement (minus the MS thesis, journal clubs, etc) as my professional electives. So what I am looking at would be the completion of the didactic portion of a MS program.

2. I want to know is: what does a MS title mean to potential employers when they are screening applicants? Does it mean mostly the applicant has taken advanced level courses to employers? Or does it mean more to employers that the applicant knows how to read scientific articles, write a thesis, etc? Is this viewed differently by hiring personnel in academia, industry, government?

3. I am also interested in the area of public health. I have this romantized desire of doing work that could benefit the population (not sure if I want to be in a non-profit or for-profit organization at this point). I just have this dream that I could save the world…

a. Is a Masters in Public Health necessary to work in the public sectors (ie, CDC, WHO, Epidemic Intelligence Service, etc)?

b. Would taking some public health classes hinder me from being considered in industry?

c. I am in an institution that is highly towards academia, does that make me a less favorable candidate in industry?

4. What does certification (ie. not a M.S or a more formal, advanced degree) mean to employers? I have the opportunity to fulfill one of these as well.

5. I am interested in drug development and have this desire to help people combat illnesses through research. For those with academic, government and/or industry experiences in the bench sciences, could you briefly compare the work environment, expectations and scientific eligibility requirements of each setting?

6. Do employers only look for certain degree title when it comes to hiring, and perhaps not the broad knowledge and skills the applicants might possess but not easily identified with the completion of a degree (a MPH or a MS in my case)?

Thank you for reading it this far!