Add to your academic strength with an MS, Ph.D. or an MBA


A common thought amongst students, even working professionals, is should I go for higher studies namely, MBA, MS, PhD? Also, whether it is MBA, MS, PhD or some other course that would form the base of my career depends on the kind of work you plan to do post completion of your education.

A research based role would require you to have a deeper understanding of subjects with data analysis not being limited just to reports but the one that uses data to get insights that can be used over the years – research work that can find a place in organizations today and the one that would still be used a decade or two later. Also, it depends on the organization you are working with. Let’s discuss all these academic advancement options – MBA, MS, PhD.

Choice of courses: Difference between an MBA, MS, PhD

  • MBA

Masters in Business Administration stretches into 4 semesters or 6 trimesters depending on the college/university. The first 2 to 3 semesters are reserved for general courses that would acquaint you with basic concepts of each of the subjects. The rest are meant for specialization. This could be the one in Marketing, Finance and Human Resources with these being standard areas of specialization but B-schools are giving students a choice with areas of specialization ranging from subjects in Game Theory, Information Systems and Analytics.

Pros: Shorter duration in comparison to Ph.D.; Lucrative work opportunities for those from IIMs or the top 10 colleges in the United States.

Cons: Some research-oriented jobs and even posts of economists in financial organizations are open only to PhDs.

  • Ph.D.

Doctoral studies will not require you to go through that much coursework if you pursue M.Phil. or a M. Res. degree before you enrol for that coveted position with a renowned professor in that field. The ranking of journals is significant when the published work of one researcher is compared to that of another. The ones at colleges in the US and Germany have gone on to receive recognition ranging from a Nobel to Fields Medal or the Abel Prize.

In the field of technology and computing, Turing Award is the recognition that professors have received. For one to work with such people, one needs to put in enough hard work and prove oneself. What you bring to the table counts. You gain from the one you work with but you are likely to be tested for what you can do to add to or to assist in research work.

Pros: If you are interested in academics, Ph.D. is a pre-requisite.

It is Ph.D. that will form the basis for you to be the developmental or monetary economist who can work with the data to assess the kind of policies and projects that need to be implemented to make the economy to be at par with that of the developed world.

This work takes decades but the policy framework can only be prepared by economists and a Ph.D. is what is sought in such a scenario. MS, with the requisite research work, can also work for certain opportunities but it does not usually form the part of the eligibility criteria when it comes to data scientist work or the one that deals with putting in place mechanisms to carry out a quick analysis.

Cons: Ph.D. would take 3 to 5 years depending on your Masters degree; if you are not someone who enjoys research work and is not willing to invest 3-5 years, then, you are better suited for an MBA or an MS.

Examples: Doctoral Studies can get you a job as a tenure-track professor or even a non-tenure track job in academia, starting with an assistant professor.

  • MS

This course is ideal for engineers. The choice is between M.Tech. or an MS. Universities abroad provide the option of research in the form of an MS degree. M.Tech. does not require you to work on year long research work. You can assist the Professors though if required. Termed the RAship, this enables you to get a stipend that can support your expenses.

Pros: MS is a 2-3 year course with one year reserved for research.

Cons: Similar to a research masters; more for those with a M.Sc. or B.Tech.

Examples: Doctoral Studies can get you a job as a tenure-track professor or even a non-tenure track job in academia, starting with an assistant professor.